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Double Double Bonus Poker

2 March 2010

Double Double Bonus Poker is one of the most popular video poker games around. Players love the 2,000-coin jackpot for a five-coin wager when four aces are accompanied by a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card. On a quarter machine, that's $500 — a nice secondary jackpot below the usual $1,000 for a royal flush.

As with all video poker games, Double Double Bonus Poker comes in a variety of pay tables. The full-pay version, which returns 98.98% with expert play, pays 9-for-1 on full houses and 6-for-1 on flushes. Also common is an 8/5 version that reduces payoffs to 8-for-1 on full houses and 5-for-1 on flushes. That drops the return to 96.79%.

My first instinct when I see 8/5 Double Double Bonus is to look for a better game, but sometimes it's not available. And getting the full return requires some strategy adjustments. Let's sample a few hands for the lower-paying, but common, 8/5 Double Double Bonus Poker.

Ace of hearts, king of hearts, queen of hearts, 7 of spades, 5 of hearts.

With a full-pay 9/6 game, this would be a close-call hand. Average return for holding ace-king-queen for a longshot chance at a royal flush is 6.8 coins per five coins wagered. Holding all four hearts, the 5 along with all three high cards, is a 6.7-coin average. When the pay table drops to 8-5, this is no longer a close call hand. Average return for holding the three high hearts is 6.65 coins, far better than the 5.74 on the four-card flush. Dropping from a 6-for-1 payoff on flushes to 5-for-1 makes a big impact, and makes this an easy hand to call.

Ace of clubs, king of spades, queen of hearts, jack of spades, 9 of spades.

Hold ace-king-queen-jack, leaving a chance to draw a 10 for a straight or pair up any of the high cards for a paying hand. In the 9-6 game, we'd have to take into account the potential flush or straight flush draw to king-jack-9 of spades. In fact, in 9/6 Double Double Bonus, king-jack-9 is the better play by the slimmest of margins, 2.988-2.979 in average return. However, the lower flush payback in the 8/5 game reverses the strategy. Average returns are 2.98 coins on the four high cards, 2.78 on the three spades.

King of spades, queen of hearts, jack of diamonds, 8 of diamonds, 7 of diamonds.

The three-card straight flush, jack-8-7, has only one high card and two gaps between the jack and 8. With higher-paying flushes, we'd take our chances anyway. With an 8/5 pay table, we're better off holding king-queen-jack, with three high cards that could pair up for winners, along with straight and three-of-a-kind possibilities. Average returns are 2.45 coins on king-queen-jack, 2.37 on jack-8-7.

Queen of hearts, jack of hearts, 10 of hearts, jack of diamonds, 5 of diamonds.

We have two desirable starts here, with a pair of jacks that's a paying hand from the start, and queen-jack-10 of hearts with its royal flush and straight flush chances. In the 9/6 game, suited queen-jack-10 is the only three-card royal we hold at the expense of breaking up a high pair. Not so in 8/5 Double Bonus, where we hold the two jacks, with an average return of 7.18 coins, instead of queen-jack-10, at 7.12.

Queen of diamonds, jack of spades, 7 of clubs, 5 of clubs, 3 of clubs.

An unsuited queen-jack isn't a great start to a hand, returning just 2.34 coins per five coins wagered, but it's a far better play than holding the three clubs 3-5-7. That three-card straight flush draw with two gaps returns just 1.86 coins per five wagered. If there were no high cards in the hand, an expert would take the longshot chance on the three clubs, but it's one of the weakest hands we'd think about keeping. In 9/6 Double Double Bonus, we'd make the same play, but it would be a closer call, with the return on the suited 3-5-7 increasing to 2.06 coins per five wagered.

Note that all of the sample hands here involve where to draw the line on potential flushes and/or straight flushes. It's the change in flush paybacks that forces strategy changes in Double Double Bonus Poker, not the change in returns on full houses.

Why? There's very little you can do to increase the number of full houses you draw. Dealt 9-9-6-6-jack, you're going to keep both pairs and hope for the full house at any pay table. Dealt three high cards of mixed suits such as king of hearts, queen of clubs, jack of spades, the expert play is to keep all three. The full-house payback is never offered at a level that makes it advantageous to discard one of the high cards for a longshot chance at a full house.

But the difference between being better off holding high cards and holding three parts of a straight flush is narrow enough that the flush strategy has an impact. When you see a change in flush returns, understand that optimal strategy is going to change.

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