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The truth about Double Bonus poker—and how to become a better player

by Henry Tamburin

Don’t assume that all 9/6 games are good; it depends upon the game you’re playing. A case in point is Double Bonus. A 9/6 Double Bonus game is not full pay.

 

Many players play Double Bonus poker, yet few understand the basic facts of the game. So in this article, I’m going to share with you some facts about Double Bonus that you will make you a smarter player.

Fact #1: The game gets its name because it pays exactly double the payoff for four-of-a-kind hands compared to Bonus Poker (see Table 1). The higher payoffs for four-of-a-kind hands (especially the four aces) is what attracts players to play Double Bonus.

Fact #2: To fund the premium payouts on four-of-a-kind hands, the return for two pair is reduced from 2 for 1 to 1 for 1 (or even money). This reduced payout affects the game’s volatility compared to Bonus Poker (and Jacks or Better). In layman’s terms, increased volatility means you can expect a much greater swing in your bankroll in the short term when you play Double Bonus compared to Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker (even with perfect strategy).

It also means you will lose more quickly playing Double Bonus—but on the positive side, you have a shot at some big payoffs if you hit the four-of-a-kind hands that pay a premium. If you don’t do the latter during your playing session, expect your bankroll to head south—rapidly.

Fact #3: There are many different pay schedules for Double Bonus. I’ve listed a few of them in Table 1 (along with the benchmark full-pay Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker pay schedules). The key number to focus on when you evaluate the pay schedule for a Double Bonus game is the per coin payoff for the Full House, Flush, and Straight. The best DB game pays 10 coins for the full house, 7 for the flush, and 5 for the straight (known as a full pay 10/7/5 game). This game has an ER of 100.17%, one of the few video poker games where a player can gain the edge over the casino solely by using perfect playing strategy.

Fact #4:  The most common per-coin payoff for the full house-flush-straight for Double Bonus is 9/7/5 and 9/6/5. Decreasing the full house payoff by one unit results in a 99.11% ER for the 9/7/5 game. The 9/6/5 game has a dismal 97.81% ER. Any Double Bonus game that pays only 4 for 1 for a straight has an even lower ER, and should be avoided.

Note: Unlike Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker games that can be characterized by two numbers representing the per coin payoff for the full house and flush (e.g., 9/6 Jacks-or-Better and 8/5 Bonus Poker), with Double Bonus games, you need three numbers representing the per coin payoff for the full house, flush, and straight.

Fact #5: The playing strategy for 10/7/5 and 9/7/5 Double Bonus is similar. However, it changes when the flush payoff drops to 6 for 1.

Fact #6. Recognizing all of the different hand options in Double Bonus is harder than it is when you’re playing Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker. That’s because you need to look for hand combinations in Double Bonus that you wouldn’t normally keep in the other games. For example, which cards would you keep in this hand if you were playing Double Bonus?

The correct cards to hold are Ace-2-3-5 (which is a four-card inside straight containing one high card, a hand you would never hold in Jacks or Better—on that game, you would hold the 3-5-7, which is a three-card straight flush with two gaps).

If you’re serious about becoming a better Double Bonus poker player, I suggest you start practicing the game on your home computer, using a commercially available software training program (my recommendation is Video Poker for Winners).

Fact #7. You can use the 9/6 Jacks or Better playing strategy when you play 10/7/5 Double Bonus poker, but the ER will drop from 100.17% to 99.63% (which is still slightly higher than the 99.54% ER for 9/6 Jacks or Better). However, if you do so, remember that even though the ER is close between the two games, the volatility is not (the volatility of Double Bonus is greater).

If you’re going to play Double Bonus frequently, I recommend that you learn the basic playing strategy for Double Bonus to get the ER over 100%. This strategy is readily available. You’ll find it on the video poker page at www.wizardofodds.com, on www.vpgenius.com, and on the commercially-available Double Bonus strategy card (developed by Bob Dancer and Liam Daily).

Fact #8: When you play Double Bonus, even with perfect strategy, you can expect to lose more sessions than you win. You’ll average one royal flush every cycle of 48,000 hands, and when it comes, your big payout will make up for your losses. Note: Since the royal flush contributes 1.66% toward the 100.17% ER for the game, between royals you are playing a game with only a 98.5% ER.

Fact #9: You can find Double Bonus poker games in denominations over a quarter (especially in Las Vegas). This is not the case with full pay Deuces Wild, which is another video poker game that gives you an ER higher than 100% when you use perfect strategy.

You can find out which casinos offer Double Bonus in different regions of the U.S. by going to  www.vpfree2.com. Click on “Games,” then use the drop down menus to select Double Bonus and the region.

Table 1

Double Bonus Per Coin Payouts

 

 

10/7/5 DB

9/7/5 DB

9/6/5 DB

8/5 BP

9/6 JOB

Royal Flush

800*

800*

800*

800*

800*

Straight Flush

50

50

50

50

50

Four Aces

160

160

160

80

25

Four 2s. 3s. 4s

80

80

80

40

25

Four 5s-Ks

50

50

50

25

25

Full House

10

9

9

8

9

Flush

7

7

6

5

6

Straight

5

5

5

4

4

3-of-a-Kind

3

3

3

3

3

Two Pair

1

1

1

2

2

Jacks-or-Better

1

1

1

1

1

ER

100.17%

99.11%

97.81%

99.17%

99.54%

* 4,000 coins with max coins wagered. Always play max coins to get the benefit of the bonus payout for the royal flush.

 

Tamburin’s Tip of the Month

It’s fairly common knowledge that the best Jacks or Better games pay 9 coins for a full house, and 6 for a flush (per coin played). Hence, the full pay game is called 9/6 Jacks or Better. Many video poker players have this 9/6 fixed in their brain; therefore, when they go to casino and see a game that pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for the flush, they immediately assume it must be a good game, so they sit down and play it. Don’t assume that all 9/6 games are good; it depends upon the game you’re playing. A case in point is Double Bonus. A 9/6 Double Bonus game is not full pay. You should be looking for, and playing, a Double Bonus game that pays 10 coins for the full house and 7 coins for the flush (with straights paying 5 coins) per coin played.

 

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Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the host of the smartgaming.com website and the editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter (for a free three-month subscription, visit www.bjinsider.com/free). For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog, which contains books, strategy cards, and software for video poker players, call toll free 1-888-353-3234, or visit the web store at smartgaming.com.

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