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Video poker moments, questions and back-to-back pays

By John Grochowski


Video poker players often come away from the games with tales to tell, and sometimes with questions to ask.

The ol’ email box frequently brings some of each. Let’s share a few, along with some comments.




I have a back-to-back wins story for you. My wife and I went to the casino together, and at first we played slots side by side. After a while, I moved to video poker.

On the quarter video poker machines, there was 8-5 Double Double Bonus Poker with a three-way progressive jackpot on royal flushes, four Aces with a kicker and four 2–4s with a kicker. I figured the progressives were worth the lower pay table.

The royal stood at $1,253 when I was dealt Ace-Jack of clubs, and Queen-9-3 of diamonds. I held the Ace-Jack and hoped for the best.

To my shock, the King-Queen-10 came up on the draw. Yay! Before the attendant with the tax form got to me, I texted a picture to my wife, who came right over.

She told me, “Let’s see you do it again.” I hit deal and got King-Jack- 10 of hearts. On the draw, I got the Queen first, then the Ace.

My wife couldn’t believe it. “This is the first time you’ve ever obeyed orders,” she said.

COMMENT. Congratulations on your twin royals! I’ve collected dozens of back-to-back jackpot stories, but this is the first royal on demand.

Drawing three cards to complete royal No. 1 was a 1 in 16,215 shot. The two-card draw for the second was 1 chance in 1,081. Very cool that both paid off.



I was playing 9-5 Triple Double Bonus Poker. Not the top-of-the-line pay table, but not too bad for a nickel Five Play game. Four Aces with a low kicker brings 4,000 coins for a five-coin bet. It’s as much as you’d get for a royal flush.

It gave me the best day of my casino life last September. I was dealt two Aces and on one of the five draws I got the other two Aces and a 4. Four thousand credits!

Not 10 minutes later, I was DEALT four Aces, and on two of the hands I got the low kickers, so that were three 800-credit pays and two at 4,000 each.

Before too long, I also got a royal flush for another 4,000. Now THAT was a fun day.

I was wondering, do you get the Aces and kicker more or less often than royals? It seems like the 4,000-coin jackpots would come a lot more often. How can the casinos pay that?

COMMENT. I’ll tailor this to 9-5 Triple Double Bonus, but the basics are the same in the 9-7, 9-6, 8-5 and 7-5 versions.

Given optimal strategy, four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card come an average of once per 14,166 hands. That’s about 2.74 times as often as you’ll get royal flushes, which occur an average of once per 38,804 hands with expert play for this game.

Combined, you’ll get that 4,000-coin payoff roughly once per 10,400 hands. That’s a lot more often than on games where the only 4,000-coin payers are royals. In 9-6 Double Double Bonus, royals occur an average of once per 40,799 hands, and other games also hover around once per 40,000 depending on pay table and drawing strategy.

The key to more frequent big payoffs is to pay less on common hands. Games including Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Super Double Bonus Poker and Super Aces pay only 1- for-1 on two pairs. That enables bigger four-of-a-kind payoffs than you get in Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker, where two pairs bring 2-for-1.

Triple Double Bonus Poker takes another giant step in that direction. Not only do two pairs pay 1- for-1, but three of a kind returns only 2-for-1 instead of the 3-for-1 you receive on nearly all non- wild card video poker games. That smaller return on a common hand funds the more frequent 4,000-coin jackpots.



I just started playing video poker, though I’ve played slots for a long time. My mom’s a video poker player and I started playing a little so I could sit next to her.

She loves Double Double Bonus Poker. One play she makes doesn’t really make sense to me. If she’s dealt two pairs, she holds both even if there’s a high pair.

It seems to me that since a high pair pays the same 1-for-1 as two pairs, you might as well hold the high pair and discard three cards to have more chances at four of a kind.

COMMENT: Mother knows best. It’s a lot easier to complete a full house with a one-card draw than it is to draw the right two cards for four of a kind, even with a three-card draw.

There is an exception in DDB if the high pair consists of Aces. Then it’s best to hold the Ace pair and draw three cards.

Assume you’re dealt a hand such as Jack-Jack-10-10-6 of mixed suits. If you hold both pairs, 43 of 47 draws will leave you at two pairs. The other four draws will bring full houses.

“It’s a lot easier to complete a full house with a one-card draw than it is to draw the right two cards for four of a kind, even with a three-card draw.”

If you hold only the Jacks, there are 16,250 possible three-card draws. The result is a high pair on 11,520 draws while 2,629 bring a second pair, 1,852 are three of a kind, 169 are full houses and 45 are four of a kind.

If you’re playing 9-6 Double Double Bonus, where full houses pay 9-for-1, your average return for holding both pairs is 8.40 coins per five wagered,—better than the 7.24 when holding only one pair.

Your mother’s play might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s the optimal strategy.

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