A wild ride with Jersey video poker

Jun 12, 2005 11:29 PM

While Las Vegas may be ground zero for video poker, Atlantic City can boast (with a straight face!) of being the joker video poker capital of the world.

For whatever reason, there seems to be a large percentage of joker games in Atlantic City. One of the mainstays there is Double Joker Poker, a game that is played with a 54-card deck that contains two jokers. This game has even moved up the highway and can be found in the Connecticut casinos as well.

One of the reasons that Double Joker Poker has done so well is because when Atlantic City offered mostly 6/5 jacks or better (payoffs of 6-for-1 on full houses and 5-for-1 on flushes), games like Double Joker Poker offered a viable alternative.

The most common version of the wild card game pays 97.7%, but occasionally you can find the full-pay version paying 100%. On the East Coast, even 97.7% isn’t all that bad. The paytable for for full-pay Double Joker in the accompanying chart.

When the four of a kind pays only eight credits, the payback is only 97.7%.

Like all wild card games, the strategy table is broken down based on the number of wild cards in the initial draw. If dealt both jokers, the strategy table tells us to play all 4-card straight flushes and to discard straights in favor of either two jJokers and a 10 or two jokers (if no 10).

Flushes should be held. One other little twist is that 4-card royals with a queen or jack high play over a four of a kind, so if dealt Jd Qd Jkr Jkr Jh, you go for the royal instead of holding the four of a kind. If the royal has a king or ace, you keep the four of a kind.

If dealt only a single joker, the strategy table tells us to play all 3-card straight flushes, 4-card straights and 4-card flushes. If you don’t have at least that strong of a hand, hold the lone joker.

All single joker hands have an expected value greater than one, so once you’ve been dealt one of the jokers, you’ve got an expected winner.

Of course, you’ll be dealt a joker only about 18% of the time, or a little less than 1-out-of-5 hands. The rest of the time you almost have to be dealt a sure winner to get the expected value to be greater than one. Throwing all five cards away is not a good prospect, so even 2-dard straight flushes are playable if they are least a 5-high straight flush. Conversely, 3-card straights and 3-card flushes are not playable.

If you’re playing in Atlantic City or Connecticut, Double Joker Poker can be one of the highest payback games you may find. The strategy takes some practice, as do all joker games, but it is not a difficult strategy to comprehend. Master the strategy and, for those on the East Coast, playing close to home may not seem as bad as it used to be.