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While in Las Vegas recently, I found myself playing 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker on a quarter Triple Play machine.
That's quite a treat for a Midwestern player. When full houses pay 10-for-1, flushes 7-for-1 and straights 5-for-1 -- the 10-7-5 before the name -- Double Bonus returns 100.17 percent in the long run with expert play. Few players really play at expert level, so the casinos still make money on these games. Still, a little extra stays in the pockets of even average players.
No one in the Chicago area has that pay table in quarter denominations, and no one here has it in Triple Play in any denomination. The only 10-7-5 Double Bonus games near home are the $1 progressives at Empress Joliet.
Before long, I was dealt a pair of Aces, and a strange thing happened. On two of the three hands, I drew the other two Aces, meaning I got the 800-coin payoff twice. Great stuff, in my book, but a passing cocktail waitress seemed a little disappointed.
"Oh, you had the deuce with one of those," she said, referring to the fifth card on the top hand. "You should have been playing Double Double Bonus. Then that's worth 2,000. Most people I see playing here like to play that one."
I just smiled, said I was happy with what I had, and asked her to bring a bottle of water. (Prime Las Vegas tip: Keep that bottled water coming to stay hydrated in that desert air.)
What I didn't say was that I've noticed the same thing. I often glance at occupied multiple-games machines just to see what people are playing. On Triple Play, Five Play and Ten Play Poker, I see more people playing Double Double Bonus than anything else.
On its full-pay version, Double Double Bonus is a 98.9 percent game with expert play. That's not bad, but there's often a higher-paying game available. I normally opt for the higher percentage game, but it's not difficult to understand why some prefer the jackpot opportunity in Double Double Bonus.
The attraction is the big payoff on four Aces when accompanied by a 2, 3 or 4. In Double Bonus, all four-Ace hands pay 160-for-1, or 800 coins for five coins wagered. Double Double Bonus carries the same payoff most of the time, but when the Aces are accompanied by a 2, 3 or 4, the jackpot jumps to 400-for-1, or 2,000 coins for a five-coin bet.
Similarly, when four 2s, 3s or 4s are accompanied by an Ace, 2, 3 or 4, the Double Double Bonus jackpot rises from 80-for-1 (or 400 for five coins wagered) to 160-for-1 (an 800-coin payoff for five wagered).
The tradeoff comes on the returns on full houses, flushes or straights. A top-of-the-line Double Double Bonus game pays 9-for-1 on full houses, 6-for-1 on flushes and 4-for-1 on straights. To reduce the payback percentage, casinos often cut back the return on full houses and flushes. In the Chicago area, I've seen 9-6, 9-5, 8-5 and even 7-5 versions of Double Double Bonus. Each unit the return is lowered from the 9-6 full-pay game drops the overall payback percentage a little more than a percent. Be sure to shop around for the best pay tables.
Other payoffs are the same as in Double Bonus -- 1-for-1 on a pair of Jacks or Better or two pair; 50-for-1 on four 5s through Kings, 50-for-1 on straight flushes and 250-for-1 on royal flushes, with a leap to a 4,000-coin jackpot on a royal when five coins are wagered.
Every video poker game carries its own strategy quirks for the player who wants to squeeze out every last percentage point. Double Double Bonus is no exception. Keep these strategy points in mind:
When dealt two pairs that include a pair of Aces, hold just the Aces. In any two-pair hands that do not include two Aces, hold both pairs.
Dealt a full house that includes three Aces, hold just the Aces.
Do not hold 2s, 3s or 4s as kickers in hopes of drawing a jackpot hand. If you hold a low card with two Aces or three Aces, you dramatically reduce your chances of pulling a four-Ace hand.
Similarly, when holding two or three 2s, 3s or 4s, do not hold a kicker. With two 3s, for example, it's more important to maximize chances of drawing the third or even fourth 3 than to hold an Ace, 2 or 4 to augment the jackpot in a miracle draw.
Dealt four cards to an Ace-low inside straight, such as Ace-2-3-5 of mixed suits, hold just the Ace. In Double Bonus, with a 5-for-1 payoff on straights, we hold Ace-2-3-5, but not here.
Dealt an Ace and two other high cards of mixed suits, hold only the Ace. This is different than in most Jacks or Better-based games, including Double Bonus. Most of the time, if dealt Ace-King-Jack of mixed suits, the best play is to hold the King and Jack. In Double Double Bonus, we have to keep one eye on the big payoff, so the single Ace is more valuable.
For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Casino Answer Book by John Grochowski
Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.