Double your (BP) pleasure!

Feb 27, 2006 2:33 AM

Since the advent of the first video poker game roughly 20 years ago, there have probably been two significant developments in video poker. One was Ernie Moody’s invention known as multi-play that allows players to play from 3 to 100 draws simultaneously.

The other was the creation of the bonus versions of video poker. The combination of the two has, in my opinion, allowed the popularity of video poker to just keep growing.

Video poker was the first creation that allowed players to utilize real strategy and still play something that looked like a slot machine. One of the problems was that the video poker machine didn’t really offer players a chance for a sizeable win, unless they were fortunate enough to hit the royal.

So, the manufacturers came up with the idea to increase the volatility by increasing the payback on certain quads, while slightly lowering the payback on the full house.

As people began to play the original Bonus Poker, the manufacturers kept turning up the dial. The irony is that Bonus Poker’s payout was a smidge less than original video poker (99.2% vs. 99.5%).

Then Double Bonus Poker hit the casino floors! It doubled the payouts for ALL quads relative to Bonus Poker. Four aces with max-coin paid 800 coins which essentially became a mini-jackpot.

The rest of the paytable was greatly altered, and for the first time, it took a three of a kind to do better than a push. To offset this loss, respectively. The net result was a game that paid 100.1%.

But the manufacturers turned up the volatility yet one more time, and Double Double Bonus Poker was born.

Double Double Bonus Poker doubled the payout of quad aces through fours IF the fifth card (the kicker) was an ace thru four. Now, four aces and a 2/3/4 paid a whopping 2000 coins, or half the payout of a royal flush!

To offset this increase, the payouts on straights, flushes and full houses were returned to their original payouts of 4, 6 and 9, respectively. Two pair only paid 1 unit, so it still took a three of a kind to do better than a push.

The players loved this game right from the start. The chance to win big on quads became very compelling. Using expert strategy, four aces should appear about once in 4200 hands, with about 1 in 4 of these being the bonus variety, paying 2000 coins.

The one drawback to this version of the game is that the payback is only 98.8% with the full-pay paytable, making it the lowest of the bonus game entries discussed here.

Both Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus have very complex strategies and are very streaky. This is a result of the push on two pairs. If you get your share of four of a kinds, you can do quite nicely. If it goes a little cold, you can lose quickly.

If you like to brag about winning a nice sized jackpot, then Double Double is probably the game for you. If you prefer the opportunity for a slightly smaller jackpot but a better chance to win overall, then Double Bonus is the better choice.

There are not many chances left to find games paying over 100%. Finding a full-pay version, even in Las Vegas, may be a challenge. For the most part, you will not find them in the big Strip casinos. Your best chance is the "local" places like the Station, Coast, Arizona Charlie’s and other locals-oriented casinos.

One of the frequent questions asked is whether or not you should keep two pair when one of the pair is Jacks or better. The answer is YES. Even if one of the pair is aces, tTwo pair still has a higher expected value (albeit a small difference).

A pair of aces should be kept over a 3-card royal. However, a pair of Jacks, Queens or Kings should be discarded if you have a 3-card royal, unless it contains both an ace and a 10, or a king and a 10.

Double Bonus Poker offers the player one of the top paybacks of any video poker machine. But unlike the original Bonus Poker, don’t assume that you can play standard jacks or better strategy and still get almost all of the payback. Double Bonus Poker has a long complex and very different strategy from jacks or better. I strongly recommend you get a book or software and learn the strategy before you play for real money. It’s the only way to get the most from your bonus.