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An even less ugly version of Not So Ugly Deuces

26 August 2008

Video poker players looking for the best-paying games can use one simple rule as a starting point: The lower on the pay table a change is made, the bigger the effect it has.

So it goes with a recent wrinkle in Deuces Wild, one that was brought to mind when I did my first tour of the new Horseshoe Casino barge in Hammond. There, on some $1 Game Kings, was a Deuces Wild game I'd heard about from Nevada friends, but had not yet seen. It looks like our old friend, Not So Ugly Deuces Wild, with an important pay table change.

On NSU Deuces, five of a kind pays 16-for-1, and you'll get 10-for-1 on a straight flush. This new version lowers five of a kind to 15-for-1, but increases the straight flush payoff to 11-for-1. Accordingly, the video poker website VPFree (http://members.cox.net/vpfree/) calls it 15/11 NSU Deuces.

The older version of NSU Deuces is a good game for players, paying 99.7% with expert play. If you take the time to learn the strategy ins and outs, that's very close to a break-even game, and even better when you add in player rewards cash back, comps and direct mail vouchers.

It gets even better with the 15-11 version, which rates out at 99.96 percent with expert play. That's one of the best video poker pay tables I've ever seen in the Midwest. Of course, "with expert play" is the key phrase here. Most players do not play at expert level, or anywhere close to it. The casino can reasonably expect a 3 or 4% — 15/11 NSU Deuces will make money for the house.

Nonetheless, the 15/11 version is better for players of any skill level than the 16/10 version. That's because we draw straight flushes more often than five of a kind. Given expert play, we'll draw five of a kind about once per 325 hands, and straight flushes once per 180 hands — about 1.8 straight flushes for every five of a kind.

We're better off with the increased payoff lower on the pay table, on the more common hand.

Strategy differences between the two games are small. In the older NSU Deuces, we're already doing all we can to increase the frequency of flushes and straight. In 15/11 NSU Deuces, we can just give straight flushes a couple of tiny nudges.

Dealt two 2s, a Jack and 10 of diamonds, and a 10 of hearts, in 15/11 NSU Deuces we break up the four of a kind and hold the four parts of a wild royal. But in the 16-10 version, we make the opposite play, holding the 2s and both 10s. That's because in addition to the chance to draw a wild royal, we have a chance at a straight flush by drawing a 7, 8 or 9 of diamonds to 2-2-J-10. And the higher payoff on straight flushes in the 15/11 game makes it worth our while to pass up the sure four of a kind and chance on five of our kind.

However, the two royal flush cards in addition to the deuces must be Jack-10. With other combinations, holding the sure four of a kind ranks higher on the strategy chart.

Another minor little split: Dealt 5-6 of hearts, A-K of diamonds, and a deuce, in the 15/11 version the better play is to hold the deuce with the 5-6. There are more chances of drawing the straight flush than the wild royal. But with the lesser straight flush payoff in 16/10 NSU Deuces, we'd hold the deuce with the suited ace-king instead.

Those are the kinds of minor nuances that take lots of practice on the computer to master. But no matter what your skill level, remember that if all other parts of the pay table are equal except for equal changes on two hands, you're better off with the bigger payoff on hands that come up more often.

** * ** * **

Nearly every time I write about Deuces Wild, I get e-mails from players saying they've never seen games called full-pay Deuces or Not So Ugly Deuces. That's because these are not the official names of the games. They're player nicknames, meant to describe the pay table.

The machines just say Deuces Wild. It's up to you to determine what version it is by checking the pay tables. If you see one that pays 250-for-1 on a natural royal (with a jump to 4,000 for a five-coin bet), then 25-for-1 on a wild royal, 15 on five of a kind, 9 on a straight flush, 5 on four of a kind, 3 on a full house, 2 on a flush, 2 on a straight and 1 on three of a kind, that's full-pay Deuces.

Starting from that base, if you see jumps to 16-for-1 on five of a kind, 11 on a straight flush, 4 on a full house and 3 on a flush, but a drop to 4 on four of a kind, you've got Not So Ugly Deuces.

There are more versions of Deuces Wild than there are paragraphs in this column. Do a little comparison shopping before you play.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski