One of the most frustrating parts of playing Double Double Bonus Poker is getting paid only 1 on a Two Pair.
Anyone who has played this game has gone through a session where the seemingly get an overabundance of Two Pairs which doesn’t do much to increase your bankroll. Inevitably, this leads you to wish you were playing a version of video poker that pays 2 for the Two Pair.
When you play Two Pair on a Double Double game, you have two possible outcomes. You either wind up with the Full House or you don’t. One leads to a nice-sized win and the other is just a push. Yes, it might feel like you won a unit when you get paid 1, but the reality is that it is just a push.
This means when you play Jacks or Better, roughly half of your wins are really nothing more than a push. In Double Double, this percent skyrockets to nearly 75% of all wins are just pushes. This is what makes the volatility of Double Double so high.
So, with a 4 in 47 chance of hitting a Full House and the remainder resulting in a push, it becomes very tempting to consider breaking up the Two Pair and play only a single Pair, hoping to land the big fish - a Quad or maybe even catching Quads with a kicker for a super payout. In the meantime, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch some Trips, re-catch Two Pair or even the occasional Full House.
Let’s take a closer look at this potential strategy. Because not all Pairs and Quads are created equal, we need to break down the Two Pairs by the type of pairs it consists of. The first possibility is that you have two Low Pairs. The problem with keeping only one of these pairs is that you are throwing away a guaranteed winner.
If both pairs are between 5’s and 10’s, then you’re not even chasing any of the big Quads. You’d be throwing away a hand with an expected value of 1.7 and keeping one with an expected value of just over 0.7. This would not be a good move.
What if one of the Pairs is 2’s - 4’s while the other is 5’s - 10’s? Well, the situation is a little better because at least you’ll be chasing a Four of a Kind that can pay off big. The problem is that hitting the Quads is still a relatively rare event and you’ll still be throwing away a sure winner.
The Pair of 2’s - 4’s has an expected value of about 0.9, which is still well below the 1.7 of the Two Pair. Again, it’s a bad deal to throw away one of the pairs.
The next possibility is that you have two High Pairs (but not Aces). In this case you would not be throwing away a sure winner. The bad news is that neither of the pairs is one of the Bonus Quads. As a result, the High Pair has an expected value of about 1.4. This is getting closer to the Two Pair’s 1.7, but still not quite there. Keep the Two Pair.
Next up is a High Pair (not Aces) and a Low Pair. Based on what is already presented, it should be fairly obvious that the right play continues to be to play the Two Pair. Clearly, no High Pair or Low Pair is worth throwing a Two Pair.
That brings us to a Pair of Aces. Again, there are three possibilities. We can have a Pair of Aces with another High Pair, with a Low Pair (5’s - 10’s) or a Low Pair (2’s - 4’s). When we look at the details, we find that there is essentially no difference between the situations where the other pair is 5’s - 10’s or another High Pair.
None of the other cards that would be discarded could be used as a kicker and in any case it leaves you with a Pair of Aces. If the other pair is 2’s - 4’s then at least two cards that you’d love to have as a kicker in case you pick up the other two Aces will have been discarded.
In the end, however, we find that the extra payout for any Quad Aces is enough to tip the scale in favor of playing the Pair of Aces in any of these cases. A Pair of Aces has an expected value of 1.9 which tops the 1.7 of the Two Pair.
Two Pair is a relatively frequent hand in video poker. Proper play is essential in any version. Double Double is one of the few versions where the proper play can get more complex!
Elliot Frome is a second generation gaming analyst and author. His math credits include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, House Money and many other games. His website is www.gambatria.com. Contact Elliot at [email protected].