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I’ve found myself playing a lot of Deuces Wild Video Poker when I’ve sat down to play over the past few months. This is a game that I’ve generally disliked through the years. My dislike has nothing to do with the payback of the game, but rather the very streaky nature of it.

My time playing it has proven to be quite streaky too. I’ve had stretches where I seem to hit four Deuces almost every time I play. Of late, they have been tough to come by.

This is the nature of a Deuces Wild game. Everything hinges on getting Deuces. As you are still playing with a 52-card deck, there are still 2,598,960 total possible dealt hands. Just over 34 percent of the time, you should be dealt at least one Deuce.

This leaves just under 66 percent of the time to be dealt no Deuces. Based on this, the probability of being dealt five hands in a row without a Deuce is about 12.4 percent. No Deuces in 10 consecutive hands is about 1.5 percent.

Now, I’m only talking about the initial deal. I have definitely sat there while going through a series of hands with no Deuces on the deal. I’ll go five or six hands, then maybe get one with a Deuce. Then I’ll go several more hands without a Deuce. No surprise that these are not my hot streaks. But, they will occur in almost every session.

If you have less of these streaks, there’s a good chance you won. More of the streaks and you probably didn’t.

But, there is a secondary aspect of this as well. This is how you do when you get those Deuces. The most common single hand in the game is likely playing a single Deuce. After all, we do not play 4-Card Straights or 4-Card Flushes in most versions of the game. We also don’t play Pairs. Holding a single Deuce has an expected value of just over 1.

These are very important hands for the player. The player will have a one Deuce dealt to him about 30 percent of all hands. Some of them will be sure winners. The ones that are not, need to turn into winning hands more often than not.

We hold a lot of 3-Card Straight Flushes (or Royals) which need to turn into paying hands. You want to wind up with Quads or Quints once in while. If you find yourself getting a lot of non-winners, it again will likely mean you are not having a good day.

The other critical hand is that hand where you get two Deuces.  First you need to play it correctly.

You do not hold a Three of a Kind in this case. You hold just the two Deuces unless you have a 4-Card Royal or a sure winner.  The expected value of those two Deuces is about 3.27.

There are a lot of Deuces Wild paytables, so I’m just using a basic one for illustration purposes. With an expected value that high, you can’t just wind up with a lot of Three of a Kinds, Straights and Flushes. You’re really hoping for Quads, Quints, Wild Royals and the occasional four Deuces.

Last but not least is the three Deuce hand. This is the one that has hurt me the past few weeks. I don’t keep an exact count, but I’ve probably been dealt 20-30 of these without hitting the fourth one.

This is hardly a massive drought, but it is certainly not a hot streak. If you’re hitting four Deuces only on schedule then you are likely not doing better than theoretical payback, which means you’re likely not winning or not winning much, even if you’re playing one of the Deuces Wild versions over 100 percent.

Hit three of these out of 20 tries and you’ve probably had a good stretch of play. With three Deuces we only keep Quints and a Wild Royal and discard even a Straight Flush to go for the bigger hand. 

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About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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