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I have to admit that Jacks or better can be a bit of a slow game. Of all the varieties of video poker, it has the lowest volatility, which means the ups and downs of your bankroll are going to be kept to a minimum.

Once you’ve been playing for a while, you may want to rev it up a bit. The good news is video poker offers countless possibilities in this regard. The bad news is each version of video poker has its own strategy. The good news is the changes are not massive, so there isn’t that much new to learn. The bad news is if you use the wrong strategy or get the strategy confused, you could cost yourself a bit of payback (see last week’s column for an idea of how much it may cost you).

If you’re looking for some other games to play, these will be a good guide. But, remember to learn the proper strategy. The first variation is Bonus Poker.

The change here is rather straight forward. Full House and Flushes pay 8/5 instead of 9/6. To compensate for this, the payout on Four of a Kinds is raised up. The payout for Quad 2’s to 4’s goes to 40 and the payout for Aces goes to 80. The payback is 99.2% which is competitive with jacks or better, but definitely a notch below.

Next up is Double Bonus. Quite frankly, if you can find this one, this is the best option. Its payback is 100.1%. You read that right. It’s not a big player advantage, but in the long run you’ll be winning and not losing. The paytable takes some getting used to as it is the first of the games that pays one for a Two Pair. This means a tremendous number of your “winning” hands are only a push.

To compensate for this, the payouts for Quads are all doubled from Bonus Poker, even for 5’s to K’s. The rest of the paytable is 10/7/5/3/1/1. If you don’t learn the right strategy, you’re not going to be able to take advantage of the full 100.1% payback.

Next up in the progression is Double Double Bonus. This is definitely the supercharged version of video poker, introducing the concept of kickers to the Quads. This is where the Quad payout is increased if the 5th card is an Ace through 4. This does not apply to Quad 5’s to K’s which pays a flat 50. Quad 2’s to 4’s pay 80, unless the 5th card is an Ace through 4, in which case it pays 160.

Quad Aces pays 160 unless it has a 2-4 kicker, which bumps it up to 400. The rest of the paytable will look somewhat familiar. It is 9/6/4/3/1/1. Again, the Two Pair pays only one, which is the only way to truly offset the additional Quad pay. The payback of the game is 98.8%, which means the house advantage is more than double that of Jacks or Better. So, you’ll be giving up a fair amount in payback to have a shot at the mini-jackpot of Quad Aces with a kicker.

These are hardly the only options you have, but these are the most common variations if you want to add a little zest to your game. In each case, you’re going to need to spend some time learning the subtle variations in strategy. You’ll notice the most differences between Double Double and Jacks or Better as the power of the payouts of those Quads influences your decisions.

National Video Poker day is just a month away on Sept. 6 and I’ve also been told it is National Read a Book Day. So we have the perfect way for you to celebrate both at the same time! For GamingToday readers, we offer our three top selling video poker books for just $7 each!

You can order Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas, Winning Strategies for Video Poker or Video Poker: America’s National Game of Chance – or order all three for $21. This includes first class shipping and handling. If you’d like to order, send a check or money order to Gambatria, P.O. Box 36474, Las Vegas, NV 89133 or shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] if you’d like to use a credit card.

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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