Use expert strategy to realize ‘full-pay’

Aug 29, 2005 1:54 AM

Last week, I mentioned the frenzy that was caused by Wynn’s casino because it added several full-pay machines to its casino floor. Within a week, one of the video poker games, full-pay deuces wild, had its pay table reduced a notch.

What made these games so unique to Las Vegas is that they were offered in dollar denominations. Any positive expectation game (over 100% payback) that plays at dollars or above will quickly gain the interest of the video poker professionals.

Full-pay deuces wild offers a payback of 100.76%. If you’re a professional, you’re probably playing at least 800 hands per hour. On a dollar machine, this means $4,000 coin-in every hour. With a 0.76% advantage, these players can expect to earn about $30 per hour, not including comps and cashback.

If you treat this like a regular job and work 40 hours per week, you’d make about $60,000 per year. Casinos recognize this, and thus, almost never offer full-pay deuces in dollars anymore. This, however, does not mean that they don’t offer it quarters, which can still be found in many casinos.

For the professional player, quarters simply won’t cut it. For the vacation player, however, spending your time playing this game, can lead to a rather profitable vacation or at the very least, not a very costly one.

Of course, playing a few hours a day for a long weekend or a week, you are not nearly as likely to achieve the theoretical payback as a professional playing 40 hours a week for a year. Also, it should be noted that Deuces Wild is a VERY streaky game, which means that despite its high payback, you may go through stretches where you really wonder if someone made a mistake calculating that payback.

On the other hand, full-pay deuces offers a relative easy strategy table, as the hands are broken down by the number of deuces and many of the hands are fairly intuitive.

As with any game, I wouldn’t suggest you play it unless you enjoy playing it. Of course, you’re much more likely to enjoy it if you’re playing using the right strategy, which maximizes your chances to earn that positive payback.

The first step in mastering full-pay deuces is recognizing the paytable so that you make sure you are in fact playing "full-pay" deuces. The correct paytable is as follows:

One of the oddities of full-pay deuces wild is that the hand frequency is not in the same order as the paytable. It’s not even close. In basic jacks or better video poker, straights, flushes and full houses actually occur with fairly similar frequencies despite the difference in paybacks.

Other than that, we can expect to get more high pairs than two pairs, more two pairs than three-of-a-kinds, etc.

In deuces wild, you should get many more straights than flushes despite the equal payout. Also, you will get as many four-of-a-kinds as you do straights, which means you get far more four-of-a-kinds than you get full houses or flushes.

This is important to know for one reason. In order to turn the payback down a bit, casinos reduce the paytable. Most players are conditioned to believe that reducing the payback of something like a four-of-a-kind will not make much impact to the overall payback.

The only problem here is that a ONE unit reduction in the quad payout from 5 credits to 4 credits will shave about 6 points off the payback, dropping it down to 94.3%.

An equal increase in full house or flush payouts will only raise the payback by a little under 2%.

Generally speaking, if the four-of-a-kind pays only 4, avoid the machine. One exception to this is a version of deuces called NSUD (not so ugly deuces, which got its name mostly because it pays 4 on quads, yet has a respectable overall payback).

So, while the professional may lament the demise of the full-pay deuces at Wynn Las Vegas, the recreational player can rejoice that the quarter version can still be found in abundance. The key, as always, is learning expert strategy so that you can take advantage of the payback.