Change can alter tactics in video poker

Aug 5, 2008 7:00 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome | Last week, I showed how minor rule changes require a player to alter his strategy in order to maximize the payback by comparing Three Card Poker to its ‘cousin game’ of Tre Card Stud.

A small change to the qualifying hand for the dealer necessitates the player changing the point at which he plays or folds. Otherwise, he will play the game below the optimal level. The same for video poker.

The simple Jacks or Better version has at least a dozen. There may be 100 different paytables for video poker not including Joker’s Wild, Deuces Wild or games like Multi-Strike.

Casinos know that machines will wind up paying out far less than these amounts due to human error. They also set out to confuse the player. Using Jacks or Better strategy at a Double Bonus Poker machine will not earn the theoretical payback.

I always suggest that a player master one version (which essentially means one paytable) before moving on.

Let’s say you get bored with Jacks or Better and try some Double Bonus. You’re moving up from a 99.5 percent payback to 100.1. This will only be true, however, if you make the necessary strategic changes. In Jacks or Better, you wouldn’t even think about throwing away a Full House that had three aces. In Double Bonus, however, that 160 coins payout makes this the right move.

In Jacks or Better, if dealt a 3-Card Royal that is also a high pair, you keep the high pair. In Double Bonus, you’d only keep the pair if it is aces. If it is Jacks, Queens or Kings, the impact of the single unit payout on a two pair weakens the expected value more than the extra payout (but the lowest tier) for the quads.

In Jacks or Better, all low pairs are created equal. In Double Bonus, some are created more equal than others. Low pairs are all equal until they become four of a kinds, which impacts the expected value.

Not changing strategy would be going to a Caribbean Stud table using Three Card Poker strategy.

Let’s see how you do at Caribbean Stud when you fold only with a Q-6-3 or less!