Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of John Grochowski
Deuces Wild strategies24 March 2009
In any video poker game, expert strategy changes as the pay table changes. Best plays in 10/7 Double Bonus Poker, where full houses pay 10-for-1 and flushes 7-for-1, are a little different from those in 9/6 Double Bonus, where full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes 6-for-1.
The effect is magnified in Deuces Wild, where pay tables are altered on so many different hands. On Jacks or Better-based games, payback percentages are usually changed by adjusting returns on full houses and flushes. In Deuces Wild, changes at fives-of-a-kind, straight flushes, fours-of-a-kind, full houses and flushes are all part of the package.
There's little your strategy can do to change the frequency of five of a kind, so when Not So Ugly Deuces (99.7% return with expert play) or Colorado Deuces (96.77%) increases the payback on quints from the usual 15-for-1 to 16, it doesn't impact or strategy much.
Other hands do force some changes on us. Let's look at a few examples.
FOUR OF A KIND AND FULL HOUSES: Original full-pay Deuces Wild (100.76) pays 5-for-1 on four of a kind and 3-for-1 on flushes. The Not So Ugly, Almost Positive (99.5) and Illinois (98.9) versions of the game all pay 4-for-1 on both full houses and flushes.
The strategy impact is enormous, because it changes our play on a common hand. In full-play Deuces, we break up two pair, holding a single pair and hoping for four of a kind. In the 4-4 games, we hold both pairs, taking our chances that a one-card draw will complete a full house.
The strategy change comes only with the combination of the quads payoff decreasing to 4 and the full house payoff increasing to 4. In Colorado Deuces, where four of a kind pays only 4-for-1 but flushes stay at 3-for-1, the better play remains to hold just one pair.
FLUSHES: Almost Positive, Not So Ugly and Illinois Deuces pay 3-for-1 on flushes, while full-pay and many other versions pay only 2-for-1. That's due to some fancy pay table adjusting when casino operators found players were taking a little too much back from the original full-pay version. Four of a kind is such an important hand in Deuces that just dropping quads to 4-for-1 left a game that would be took quick in gobbling your credits. Raising the flush payoff is part of the balancing act.
We chase more flushes when the payback is raised. Given a hand like 4, 7, 10 and ace of hearts and a 4 of clubs in full-pay Deuces, the best play is to hold the pair of 4s. But in Almost Positive, Not So Ugly and Illinois Deuces, we hold the four hearts instead. It's not a close call, due to the increased flush payoff, but the decrease on quads also contributes. In Colorado Deuces, where quads drop to 4-for-1 but flushes pay only 2-for-1, the better play by a very narrow margin is to go for the flush.
STRAIGHT FLUSHES: Payoffs are all over the map here. Full-pay and Illinois Deuces return 9-for-1 on straight flushes. Not So Ugly Deuces ups that to 10-for-1, while it's 11-for-1 on Almost Positive Deuces and 13-for-1 on Colorado Deuces.
So what do you do if you're dealt a hand like a wild 2, a 5 and 6 of spades, a 9 of hearts and a jack of clubs? In full-pay Deuces, you hold just the 2. But in the others, the better play is in 2-5-6, with the higher flush payoff working together with the straight flush possibility in the 3-for-1 flush games. In Colorado Deuces, the 13-for-1 payoff on straight flushes is enough to make the difference all by itself — we hold 2-5-6 even though flushes pay only 2-for-1.
Or what about two deuces, a jack-10 of spades and a 10 of clubs? That's a pat four 10s, with a five of a kind possibility. In full-pay Deuces, you hold the four of a kind. In Illinois Deuces, it's a dead heat — you'll average a 24.6809-coin return regardless of whether you hold 2-2-10-10 or 2-2 with the Jack-10 of spades.
But there's a split among the others. In Colorado and Almost Positive Deuces, with the higher straight flush paybacks, the best play is to hold 2-2 and the suited jack-10. An ace of spades or another 2 will bring a wild royal worth the same 25-for-1 in all these games. But a 9 of spades brings a straight flush, and the higher straight flush paybacks make the difference. On the other hand, the 10-for-1 return on five of a kind in Not So Ugly Deuces has us leaning the opposite way, holding 2-2-10-10.
How's a player to keep track of all this? Practice, practice, practice. When I'm about to play, I adjust my video poker software to the version I'll be seeing in the casino, and drill myself. Frugal Video, Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker and Video Poker for Winners all will do the job. When I attack a new game, I usually start by generating a strategy sheet on Frugal Video Poker. Then I go to work.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of John Grochowski