Most video poker players are familiar with the common bonus poker games. We’ve all seen Bonus, Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus all over town. There is also a group of well-paying "novelty" bonus machines that can be found in Las Vegas, and occasionally elsewhere. Each of these games tend to be proprietary to a single casino, but with all the mergers, there are more properties now in each company.
One of the better novelty bonus games is called Aces and Eights. The paytable resembles Bonus Poker with a few changes. Instead of quad 2-4s worth 40 coins, quad 7s are worth 50 coins. Additionally, quad 8s and quad aces are both progressive pots with initial reset values of 80 coins. At this initial reset value, Aces and Eights boasts a payback of 99.7%. In some cases, a sequential royal jackpot is added which brings the payback to just about 100%. The hardest part of this game may be keeping your focus while the circus acts are going on overhead, as this particular game is proprietary to Mandalay Resort properties. In the end, despite its paytable differences, Aces and Eights’ strategy table is identical to full-pay Bonus Poker. Two pairs rank over all pairs. Full houses rank over all three-of-a-kinds. Basically, if you have a choice between full-pay Bonus Poker and Aces & Eights, go for the Aces & Eights. You’ll buy yourself an additional .5% in payback and that doesn’t include the progressive jackpots for quad aces or 8s.
A second novelty bonus game is called Aces and Faces. Its paytable also looks similar to Bonus Poker, but instead of paying 40 coins for quad 2-4s, it pays 40 coins for quad J-Ks. At first glance, one would think this would add significantly to the payback because of all the times we hold a single high card or a high pair, as compared to never holding a single 2, 3 or 4 and sometimes throwing a low pair in favor of a flush. In reality, the changes to the paytable are not really enough to cause significant strategy changes and the impact on the overall payback is a mere .1%, bringing the payback to 99.3%. Again, if given a choice, pick Aces and Faces over Bonus Poker. Additionally, this game frequently also has a sequential royal jackpot which adds an additional .2% to the payback.
These two novelty games are examples of well-paying alternatives to the basic Bonus Poker. There is no limit to the variations that can be created, and I strongly suggest you pay close attention before sitting down to play any game that looks a lot like another one. As we know, small changes in the paytable can cause significant changes to both the strategy and the payback. Frequently, these novelty games are designed to lure a player into playing a less-than-ideal machine, whereby, even if playing the right strategy, the payback could leave you short-changed.