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8 April 2017
By Jerry Stickman
Over the last few decades, casinos have consistently chipped away at the returns for video poker. In the golden days of video poker it was very common to see video poker games that returned very close to – if not more than – 100%. Now it seems that the best games available in many casinos return less than 99%. Some games have a return that is actually under 95%.
I am quite confident the days where casinos have a plethora of 99+ percent games in their inventory are gone for good. But there are still some good video poker games to be had – if you are willing to do some research. If you are in the Las Vegas area, better games can be found downtown and in locals casinos that are located off the strip. In other locations, returns for video poker games can vary wildly, so you will need to check things out for yourself.
But, in actuality, there are still a few “full pay” Double Bonus Poker games available. There are not many of them, but they are available for those who look for them.
Full pay Double Bonus Poker, also called 10/7/5 (paying 10-for-1 for a full house, 7-for-1 for a flush and 5-for-1 for a straight) Double Bonus Poker returns 100.17% with perfect play.
However, as mentioned above these machines can be difficult (if not nearly impossible) to find. More common are the 9/7/5 Double Bonus Poker games which return 99.1 percent with perfect play. While the strategy for playing Double Bonus Poker is more complex than for Jacks or Better, once you learn how to play the full pay 10/7/5 game, it is simple to switch between the full-pay 10/7/5 and 9/7/5 strategies.
There are only four changes to the strategy between the two games. The difference involves two sets of lines that are inverted. The first and most important concerns two pairs versus a pair of aces. In the full pay 10/7/5 game it is correct to save two pairs over a pair of aces. The proper play in the 9/7/5 game is to save the pair of aces over two pairs. This is because the full house is worth less (9-for-1 instead of 10-for-1) in the 9/7/5 game. If you played the 10/7/5/ strategy on the 9/7/5 game, you would be giving up about .07 units. This is not a large amount, but it will make a difference.
The only other change involves saving two high pairs of kings, queens, or jacks versus saving four of a flush. Save the two high pairs over four of a flush in the full pay 10/7/5 game and save the four of a flush over two high pairs in the 9/7/5 game. Again, this change is because of the reduced pay for a full house. If you always played the full pay strategy, you would give up less than .01 units. This is a very small amount and you might consider simply playing the full pay strategy for this save at all times.
The one that makes the difference, the one to really remember on a 9/7/5 game is to save a pair of aces before saving two pairs. This difference amounts to seven hundredths of a unit. Just remembering this one change will allow you to play within about one one-hundredth of a unit of perfect strategy.
Keep looking for those positive pay 10/7/5 Double Bonus Poker games, but remember, that by simply making one or two changes to the playing strategy for the full pay game, you will be playing the 9/7/5 game like a pro and getting better than 99 percent return for your efforts.
May all your wins be swift and large and all your losses slow and tiny.
Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker!" You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at firstname.lastname@example.org
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