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Try a walk on the Wild side!

Oct 26, 2004 3:05 AM

Video poker continues to rule in Las Vegas casinos, especially the so-called "neighborhood" casinos, which are mostly frequented by resident locals.

Of the video poker games, Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker are the most popular. One of the reasons for their popularity with players is the ability to hit a significant jackpot — up to 400, 800 or 1,200 coins for four aces — without having to hit the elusive royal flush at odds of about 40,000-to-1.

But let’s not forget that Deuces Wild poker was really the first to offer a "mini" jackpot of 1,000 coins for catching the four deuces. Similarly, Joker Poker paid a like amount for those players who could line up five-of-a-kind.

Those payoffs are comparable to the bonus aces and could be more fun to play. Here’s a closer look, along with winning strategies for both games.

Joker Wild

The addition of a joker to the deck results in more winning hands of three-of-a-kind and higher but fewer high pairs because the even-money payoff is usually on kings-or-better. Also, the overall winning payoff schedule is reduced, and the chances of hitting a "natural" royal flush are slightly less because of the addition of the 53rd card (the joker) to the deck.

Nevertheless, Joker Wild poker is very popular because hands such as straight flush and four-of-a-kind are more common, and the "mini-jackpot" paid on a five-of-a-kind is not out of reach. Once again, you must decide between the full payout and progressive machines. Whichever you choose, always try to find a machine that pays the following jackpots for one coin bet:

 

Royal flush (natural) 800 coins

Five-of-a-kind 200 coins

Royal flush (joker) 100 coins

Straight flush 50 coins

Four-of-a-kind 20 coins

Full house 7 coins

Flush 5 coins

Straight 3 coins

Three-of-a-kind 2 coins

Two pair 1 coin

High pair 1 coin

 

Because the joker complicates the playing strategy, it will be broken into two parts: hands dealt with a joker and hands dealt without it.

Hands without the joker

1. Always draw one card to a royal flush, even if it means breaking a pat high pair (kings or aces), straight or flush. But don’t break a pat straight flush for a one-card draw to a royal.

2. Draw two cards to a royal flush, unless you already hold a pat straight flush, straight, flush or three-of-a-kind.

3. Draw one card to a straight flush even if you already hold a pat flush or straight.

4. Draw two cards to a straight flush unless you already hold a pat flush, straight, or three-of-a-kind.

5. If you need one card for either a flush or a straight, draw for the flush.

6. If you need one card for either a flush or straight and already hold a high pair, keep the high pair.

7. If you need one card for a flush or two cards for a straight flush and already hold a low pair (queens or lower), break up the pair and draw. If you need one card for a straight and already hold a low pair, keep the low pair.

8. If you’re dealt two pair and one of them is a high pair, keep the high pair. If not, retain both.

9. Always draw to a low pair rather than holding a single high card.

10. Draw five cards when you don’t have a single high card that can be paired.

Hands with the joker

1. Always draw one card to a royal flush, unless you already hold a pat straight flush or joker royal flush.

2. Draw two cards to a royal flush, unless you already hold a pat straight flush, straight, flush or three-of-a-kind.

3. Draw one card to a straight flush even if you already hold a pat flush or straight.

4. Draw two cards to a straight flush unless you already hold a pat flush, straight or three-of-a-kind.

5. If you need one card for either a flush or a straight, draw for the flush.

6. If you need one card for either a flush or straight and already hold a high pair, keep the high pair.

7. If you’re dealt anything less than a high pair, or you can’t draw to the hands listed above, hold the joker and draw four cards.

Deuces Wild

Playing Deuces Wild can be a lot of fun because of the four wild cards circulating throughout the deck. When the deuces turn up, straight flushes, five-of-a-kinds and even royal flushes become commonplace. But, because hands are easier to make, payoffs are substantially less, and the minimum hand for an even-money return is three-of-a-kind.

But the game is popular because the wild cards ensure plenty of action, and the "mini-jackpot" paid on a hand of four deuces occurs quite frequently. Whether you’re going to play a full payout or progressive machine, try to find one with the following minimum payouts per one coin bet:

 

Royal flush (natural) 800 coins

Four deuces 200 coins

Royal flush (deuces) 25 coins

Five-of-a-kind 15 coins

Straight flush 9 coins

Four-of-a-kind 5 coins

Full house 3 coins

Flush 2 coins

Straight 2 coins

Three-of-a-kind 1 coin

 

Because the deuces are so important, playing strategy is evaluated according to the number of deuces dealt and the possible hands they may create.

Hands without deuces

1. Always draw one card to a royal flush, even if it requires breaking a pat straight flush.

2. Always draw two cards to a royal flush, unless you already hold a pat straight, flush or straight flush.

3. Draw one card to a straight flush unless you already hold a pat flush or straight.

4. Draw two cards to a straight flush unless you already hold a pat flush or straight.

5. If you need one card for either a flush or a straight, draw for the flush.

6. If you need one card for either a flush or straight and already hold any pair, keep the pair.

7. Always hold three-of-a-kind. When dealt two pair, discard one of them and draw.

8. Draw five cards when you don’t have a pat hand and you don’t have a chance at the hands listed above.

Hands with Deuces

1. When dealt four deuces, hold all five cards to minimize the chances of "losing" one in the draw.

2. When dealt three deuces, hold them and draw for the fourth unless you already have a pat royal flush or five-of-a-kind.

3. When dealt two deuces, hold them alone and draw unless you already have a pat four-of-a-kind or better. Also, if you need one card for a royal or straight flush, draw for the one card.

4. When dealt a single deuce, hold any pat hand except break a flush or straight if you have a one-card draw for a royal or straight flush.