Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome | Over the years, I’ve written columns informing new players how to get started in video poker. Generally speaking, I suggest people start with a readily available and relatively simple game like Jacks or Better.
I don’t suggest the bonus games because they tend to be more difficult to learn. I don’t suggest wild card games because for the novice player, recognizing hands can be more challenging. Plus, full-pay Jacks or Better has a nice 99.5 percent payback so it won’t be that costly to learn.
Of course, the beginner should always practice at home until he has a good grasp of the strategy.
Jacks or Better can be a somewhat slow game. It is to video poker what blackjack is to table games. You can play a relatively long time and not win or lose a lot of money unless you get a good streak going. Even a Four of a Kind will only make a mild upswing in your bankroll.
So, where should you go after you’ve mastered Jacks or Better?
Of course, there is no absolute right answer. One possibility is to go to bonus games where 4 of a Kind pays more, but at the expense of some lower hands. Another possibility is to head to Deuces Wild, where some very high payback games can still be found.
From a numbers perspective, you’d be better off learning Deuces Wild and finding a full-pay machine paying 101.6 percent. Over the years, they’ve gotten harder to find, but there are a variety of versions that pay over 100 percent.
Deuces Wild can be a difficult game to master. If you’re not confident in recognizing a 4-card Straight Flush with a deuce as a wild card, you may not be ready for this game.
Deuces is also a very streaky game which requires a larger bankroll than most video pokers. Bonus games have positives and negatives. The paybacks are not as lucrative (99.2) as Deuces Wild and Bonus Poker.
At the high end of excitement is Double Double Bonus. With a 400-1 payback on 4 Aces plus a 2, 3, 4, this game actually offers two jackpots – one for a Royal and one for the 4 Aces plus a kicker. The downside is the game requires a much larger bankroll, and the payback is only 98.8 percent.
To win you’re going to have to get your fair share of 4 Aces.
The real winner is Double Bonus video poker. With a payback of 100.1 percent and all quads paying at least 50, this game adds some life to video poker while taking nothing back in overall payback.
You won’t get rich on the slim 0.1 percent edge, but you’ve got as good a chance of winning as in any non-wild card game.
Double Bonus also only pays one on Two Pair. This means that about 75 percent are pushes. This leaves about 10-12 percent of the hands to make money. Unless there’s a fair share of trips or better, the session is not likely to be prosperous.