How to Play Ultimate X Video Poker
Perfect basic strategy is a must for this high volatility game
By Henry Tamburin
Let me repeat this because it’s important: The volatility is very high. This means that if you are not lucky and don’t get a winning hand followed by another winning hand, your bankroll will head south very quickly. This greater volatility requires a much bigger bankroll to withstand the big bankroll swings that will occur with this game.
In previous articles in Strictly Slots, I wrote about the six-coins-per-line games Super Times Pay and Quick Quads. This month, I’ll describe the mother of multi-coin-per-line games known as Ultimate X.
Ultimate X is available as a multi-hand and single-hand video poker game. If you wager 10 coins per line instead of five coins, you will earn a multiplier, not on the current hand, but on the following hand (i.e., betting 10 coins per line puts you in the Ultimate X mode). Essentially, you are doubling your initial bet in the hopes that you will get a greater payout on the following hand.
The easiest way to show you how Ultimate X works is to play a few hands. (The game is Triple Play Bonus Poker.)
Suppose on the first hand you wagered the maximum of 30 coins (i.e., 10 coins per line) to activate the Ultimate X feature and are dealt the following hand:
Notice on the bottom right of the screen, the “Ultimate X Poker” logo shows that it is active (because you wagered the maximum of 30 coins). On the first line, you hold the pair of 4s. The 4s will appear in the same card position on lines #2 and #3, and each line will receive three draw cards. The result of the draw gave you these final hands.
You wound up with two pairs on line #1 (pair of 4s and 8s) but you didn’t get a winning hand on lines #2 and #3. Our winning two pair on line #1 paid 10 coins (which is a standard payout for two pairs for a traditional five-coin wager). The 10-coin winning payout appears in the “Win” meter at the bottom left of the screen. Likewise, the 10 coins won increased the “Credit” meter (lower right) by 10 coins. Notice that to the left of line #1 (i.e., bottom hand), you’ll see “Next Hand 3X.” This signifies that the payout for a winning hand on Line #1 on the following hand would be multiplied by 3.
On the next hand, you are dealt:
Notice that “3X” appears to the left of line #1 (to signify whatever the payout is for a winning hand on line #1, it will be multiplied by 3). You hold the single ace, hit the draw button, and wound up with a pair of queens on line #1 and a pair of aces on line #3.
The payout for a high pair is five coins but on line #1, the payout is multiplied by 3 (because we had a winning hand on this line in the previous hand). Therefore, your total payout was 20 coins (five coins for the pair of aces on line #3, and 15 coins for the pair of queens on line #1). Since you have a winning hand on lines #1 and #3, the screen shows that you will have a 2x multiplier on any winning hands on lines #1 and #3 on the following hand.
On your third hand, you were dealt two unsuited high cards (J-Q) on line #1, you held them, and ended up with:
Unfortunately, you didn’t get a winning hand on lines #1 and #3 (with the 2x multiplier from the previous winning hands on these lines) but you got a winning hand on line #2 that gives you a 3x multiplier on this line for the following hand.
On the next hand, you were dealt two pair:
You hold the two pair, say a silent prayer, and after the draw ended up with the following hands:
Unfortunately, you didn’t get a full house or three of a kind on any line on the draw (darn!) so your final result was two pair on all lines. The payout was 10 coins on line #1, 10 coins on line # 3, and 30 coins on line #2 (because of the 3x multiplier from the previous winning hand line #2). Notice also that on the following hand, you will have a 3x multiplier on all three lines.
I hope after playing these sample hands, you get the gist of how the game plays and how fun and lucrative it could be if you get a winning hand on one or more lines followed by another winning hand on the same line(s).
The amount of the multiplier that you receive for any winning hand depends on which game you are playing (e.g., bonus poker, double double bonus, etc.), what the winning hand was (see below), and how many lines you played (e.g., Triple Play, Five Play, or Ten Play.). The multiplier is always 2x for winning hands higher than a full house. As an example, the multipliers for the Triple Play Bonus Poker game are:
Notice that if you get a full house or flush on any line, then on the following hand the payout for any winning hand (on the same line) would be multiplied by 12 and 11 respectively. (My biggest winning hand to date playing Ultimate X was when I got four 3s with a 12x multiplier (the payout was a very nice 2400 coins or $600 playing quarters).
Keep in mind that when you activate the Ultimate X feature, you are doubling your bet (betting 10 coins per line instead of 5 coins) in return at a potential shot at a bigger payout on the following hand. Because you are betting a total of 30 coins per hand on a Triple Play Ultimate X game, the volatility is very high. Let me repeat this because it’s important: The volatility is very high. This means that if you are not lucky and don’t get a winning hand followed by another winning hand, your bankroll will head south very quickly. This greater volatility requires a much bigger bankroll to withstand the big bankroll swings that will occur with this game. (Psychologically, you also have to be prepared for the negative swings.)
According to IGT, there are nine game families on the Ultimate X platform, mostly on Three-, Five- and Ten-Play machines, although a single hand version is offered on their bundled-theme Five Star Poker. The highest return Ultimate X game that is offered is 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker on Ten Play (99.87%, assuming perfect strategy). You can review the returns for other games on the Ultimate X page at www.wizardofodds.com.
If you want to know which casinos in Las Vegas offer Ultimate X, go to the Best Video Poker Page on www.lasvegasadvisor.com. You can also go to www.vpfree2.com and use the search function to find out which casinos in different regions of the U.S. offer Ultimate X, or use the “Find in Casinos” function on www.videopoker.com. If you want to play Ultimate X for free, go to www.videopoker.com. (I highly recommend you do so to get a feel for how the game plays and the size of the bankroll swings.)
Tip of the Month
When you play Ultimate X, you are paying more on the current hand in the hopes of getting a multiplier on the following hand. Therefore, on your last hand before you quit playing, you should only bet five coins per line (i.e., don’t activate the Ultimate X feature on the last hand because it has no value since you won’t be playing another hand). Also, before you start playing, check the screen on different Ultimate X games to see if a previous player left a multiplier on the game. If you are lucky to find one with a multiplier, jump in and play the hand with only a five coin per line wager. As always, but even more so with Ultimate X because you are betting twice as much per hand, play each hand with perfect basic strategy. Good luck!
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/freetrial). For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog, which contains books, strategy cards, and software for casino players, call toll free 1-888-353-3234, or visit the web store at smartgaming.com.