Making a case
for Bonus Poker

Feb 19, 2007 6:30 AM

Whenever the discussion comes up about which game is the best to play in overall terms of least difficult, most bang-for-the-buck, easiest to get comps, and best to profit from, I’ve found nearly everyone has virtually no clue as to what they’re talking about. I mean, we’re talking gambling here, and the overriding goal should always be to make as much money as possible, right?

The staple game of all my play strategies is without question, Bonus Poker (BP). I like it in full-pay version naturally, where the full house pays 40 with five credits bet, but I’ve played the 35-credit version probably more often than the full pay because they’re more plentiful.

I find a five-credit difference of little consolation for going to bad parts of town and staying in sub-par rooms. And any BP game can be beaten. You just have to clear your mind that you’ll be playing today as if you were playing into eternity.

Certainly, one of the major aspects of BP is the 10-credit payout for hitting two pair — a fairly regular occurrence — and it is a valuable reason why it is in my play strategies. However, the main pull is in the quad payouts for 2’s, 3’s, & 4’s (200) and Aces (400).

These are the hands that quickly attain goals or recover losses. Forget that you earn 5 credits less on a full house and flush than the 9/6 version of Jacks or Better. You’re trying to win something while chasing goals, and quads are the only way to attain that. Hitting these special quads only ups the ante, and goes a long way towards recovery when you need it to.

What BP offers is a relatively simple strategy that’s very similar to playing Jacks or Better. We’ll talk about the merits or lack of merits of that game shortly, but really, learning to play the game mathematically perfect is not all that difficult. Some people may be asking why I would even want to play optimally since my strategies use about 5% of the plays to deviate from expert play.

Here’s why. During any given session you are dealt only so many hands with built-in high-payout "opportunity." My special plays that deviate from optimal play recognize that, the risk has already been calculated, and the times when the big hands are hit far more than make up for all the potential smaller winners that I gave up by trying.

Critics cry that some of my plays at the dollar level are "costing me" $3.72 or whatever every time I make such a hold — and the funniest part of this is that even when I win big they still say it "cost" me!

But they’re taking the simple approach in making believe I’m sitting at that game forever playing perfectly, when in fact it is only a short session and I want the best results possible today and now.

Bottom line: It only costs the player if he loses the hand, and no one will ever see any particular hand enough times in his lifetime for any of that gobbledygook to make any difference anyway. And even if he did, the few times the big winners appeared would guarantee him a winner lifetime anyway. It certainly has me.

Jacks or Better (9/6 full-pay version) is a different story. There are only two hands worth going for, and those are the Straight Flush (250 credits) and the Royal. And you know how often those hands appear.

Proponents of the game say that with its 99.54% payout with optimal play, it’s easier to approach >100% play than the 99.2% BP.

Say what? Who cares! They’re talking about playing into infinity — hoping for some elusive small winning percentage to appear — and I’m talking about playing a session to win money today. Will they ever get it right?