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Payback % just one of parameters

The first rule of Expert Strategy is to know which video poker machines to play. Taken to the extreme, this could mean to play the absolute highest paying machine you can find. Generally speaking, this would mean that everyone would be clamoring to play Deuces Wild while all the other machines would be left empty. This is not very realistic, and it would pretty much ignore what is the fourth rule of Expert Strategy – play a game you enjoy playing. For a significant enough difference (i.e. a profit motive), it might be worth playing a game you don’t like. But, since the primary goal is entertainment, you have to play something you like to play.

If for whatever reason, you only like to play games that have very poor paybacks, well, you better have a large bankroll. Fortunately, while there is only one ‘highest’ paying type of machine, the casinos were nice enough to give us a fairly wide variety of choices when seeking out good paying machines.

A basic full-pay jacks or better at 99.5% is nothing to sneeze out. Even a bonus poker at 99.2% is quite respectable. Of course, the casinos really did us a favor when they introduced Double Bonus Poker with its 100.2-% payback. While the payback doesn’t exactly allow us to become rich, it is still a game with a positive player advantage, which means in the long run, you shouldn’t be losing. It should be noted that the casino’s generosity ends here. When they developed Double Double Bonus, with a payback of 98.8%, they did all they could to quickly take away what they gave us with Double Bonus.

While Double Double offers the bigger jackpots, its payback is nearly 1.5% smaller than Double Bonus, which is significant. If you’re looking for a very good game to play and Deuces Wild is not your thing, Double Bonus is a good game to work at. And, I do mean ‘work’ at. Jacks or better has just a smidge less than 40 entries on its strategy table. Double Bonus has a whopping 51 entries on its strategy table. Unlike Deuces Wild, you don’t have the luxury of breaking them down by the number of deuces and having many of the hands be pat winners.

The high payout on the Aces means that we now have to consider Trip Aces and a Pair of Aces as their own unique hands. We play Trip Aces OVER a Full House. A Pair of Aces rates over several partial hands (3-Card Royals or a 4-Card Flush) while other Pairs do not. We even break down 4-Card Flushes to how many High Cards they have.

The rule about not playing many 4-Card Inside Straights that we drilled into you while you learned to play jacks or better goes out the window. Not only is EVERY 4-Card Inside Straight playable, but even some 3-Card Straights! Not to be outdone, we even find that ALL 3-Card Flushes are playable! To make matters worse, we treat a 3-Card Flush with one High Card differently than one with no High Cards. (those with 2 High Cards are 2-Card Royals).

It is not the higher paybacks on the Quads that causes all this. Quite the contrary. It is the reduced payback on the Two Pair and the increased payouts on the Straight and Flush that make so many more of these hands playable. One rule that has not gone away is that the 2-Card Royal (A-10) is still NOT a playable hand.

Double Bonus can be both a brutal and a rewarding game. The increased payouts for Four of a Kind through a Straight means that a hot streak can be quite profitable. Its 100.1+% payback means that in the long run the game should be profitable. On the downside, learning the right strategy will take some hard work and some serious practice.

Also, with the single unit payout for Two Pair, this means that 55% of the hands are losers and 32% more are just pushes. This leaves only the remaining 12-13% of the hands to make your money on. So, be forewarned, while it may be profitable in the long run, it WILL be streaky along the way. 

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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