Poker for patriots

Sep 7, 2004 2:12 AM

Despite the name of this column, this is not another "Video Poker should become America’s National Game of Chance" doctrine. There is actually a little known version of video poker called All American Poker. It has a very liberal payback in full-pay variety of 100.7%, and continues to survive because so few people know how to play it properly. Given the current trend that makes it more and more difficult to find positive games, this one may take a little longer to disappear.

One quick look at the paytable and it shouldn’t take long to realize this game is very different from all the others.

Hand

Pays

Royal Flush

800

Straight Flush

200

Four of a Kind

40

Full House

8

Flush

8

Straight

8

Three of a Kind

3

Two Pairs

1

Jacks or Better

1

The pay amounts create a unique irony. For most versions of video poker, full houses, flushes and straights occur roughly in equal proportion despite their uneven payouts. In All American Poker, the equal payouts actually cause an unequal distribution of these hands, with flushes and straights occurring much more frequently than full houses.

The unique paytable also creates many changes to our strategy. As usual, I will highlight some of the key changes here.

The first one is that 4-card straight flushes outrank straights. Although straights are worth considerably more than usual, so are straight flushes. These changes cause the 4-card straight flush to have an expected value of more than 10, while the straight’s expected value is obviously 8.

A second key strategy point is that 4-card straights with at least one high card rank above high pairs. Normally, we only hold 4-card straights over low pairs. The increased value of the straight raises the expected value to 1.5 for 4-card straights while the high pair is worth 1.4.

The extra payouts on straights, flushes and straight flushes are also enough to make what are usually very weak hands quite playable. In All American Poker we find ourselves not only playing 4-card inside straights, but 3-card flushes, 3-card straights and even some 2-card inside straight flushes.

A full discussion of the strategy table is beyond the scope of this article. The important part is to realize that the strategy table is unlike any other found out there. Using jacks or better strategy for this game would prove to be disastrous. As always, the key is to learn the strategy table and practice, practice, practice.