Good duck hunting!

Apr 17, 2006 4:13 AM

To this day, I’m still amazed at how full-pay Deuces Wild was ever put out on the casino floor. With a payback of 100.7 percent, what were the casinos thinking?

Most likely, some assumptions were made based on what the right plays were, and a payback was calculated from there. This, by itself, should be enough proof of the problem of playing video poker using a strictly common sense approach as opposed to a mathematical one.

Finding full-pay Deuces Wild has become more challenging in Las Vegas. You won’t find very many (if any) in the Strip casinos, but you can find them in many of the more local places, such as the Station Casinos and the Coast Casinos, amongst others.

As I’ve often written in this column, if you want to find the best paying games, the Strip is not the place to look. The Strip is a good place for pirate ships and white tigers, but not full-pay machines.

Besides offering one of the top paybacks of any video poker machine, Deuces Wild also has a relatively easy to learn strategy table. With no high cards to worry about, the strategy table is broken down by the number of deuces in the initial deal, and most of the hand rankings are fairly obvious.

If dealt four deuces, all you need to do is hit the Hold button. If dealt three deuces, you hold ONLY the three deuces unless you have been dealt a Wild Royal or five of a kind. Not even a straight flush is worth keeping in this case.

If dealt two deuces, you keep a royal, five of a kind, straight flush, four of a kind or a 4-card royal. If dealt anything less, you keep only the pair of deuces.

When dealt a single deuce, the strategy table starts getting a bit more complex, but is still relatively intuitive. The player should hold onto any sure winners from three of a kind and up. (So, if dealt a straight or a flush, the player should hold all five, unless he has a 4-card straight flush.

But he must have three consecutive natural cards in this straight flush, giving him the most ways to complete it. Now, 4-card inside straight flushes are playable, but below a flush or a straight are not.

Next comes a 3-card royal, followed by a 3-card straight flush. It should be noted that as long as the player is dealt a least one deuce, the expected value of the hand is greater than 1.0, and these are the hands that will make the player a winner in the long run. In other words, if you want to win at Deuces Wild, you have to get your fair share of deuces.

About half of the strategy table is left to the hands with no deuces. But, again, there are few surprises. This time, straights and flushes rank ahead of 4-card straight flushes, except for a 4-card royal, which outranks everything but the royal itself.

Below the straight are the 4-card straight flushes, followed by the 3-card royal. Next comes the pair, which brings with it, one of the most important lessons when playing Deuces Wild. NEVER play two pair. Always pick one of the pairs to play and discard the other. As there is no such thing as a high pair, it does not matter which one you decide to play, so feel free to flip a coin. Below the pair are the 4-card straights and 4-card flushes, so in this game, you play pairs over both of these.

Next is the 3-card straight flush (regular or Inside), followed by a 2-card royal (Q or J high), 4-card inside straight and then a 3-card double inside straight flush. Last and least is the infamous razgu, where you throw all five cards.

A word of caution is in order. Just because a video poker machine has an overall payback of over 100% does not mean you will be a guarantee winner in any given session. In fact, the majority of players won’t even win in the short run playing this game. But, few games will give the player the opportunity to win that full-pay Deuces Wild offers.