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Triple Double Bonus Poker Strategy

5 July 2005

By John Grochowski

"Just what do video poker players want?"

A recent discussion with a group of casino executives involved comparing slot players, video poker players and table players. Video poker players, I suggested, want to feel they're getting a fair shot at the casino's money. They're less jackpot-oriented than slot players --- a $1,000 jackpot on for a royal flush on a quarter machine, one that occurs only about once per 40,000 hands is fine with them, as long as they feel they're staying in action long enough to have a chance.

Video poker, I declared, was about interactivity and time on device.

Then I walked onto the casino floor, and the first three video poker players I came across were playing Triple Double Bonus Poker. So much for my grand theory of video poker players, I thought.

I've given a few sample hands at Triple Double Bonus once before, when the game was new four years ago. The game has shown some staying power and is worth revisiting.

It's an odd little game. Some video poker games are a nice, quiet ride, designed to extend time on device --- Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker, for instance, with their 2-for-1 payoffs on two pair helping to keep us in action.

Some are roller-coaster rides, dropping the two-pair payoff to 1-for-1, but offering more chances at big wins such as the 2,000-coin jackpot for a five-coin bet on Double Double Bonus Poker (four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 as a kicker) or Super Aces (four Aces, no kicker needed).

Then there's Triple Double Bonus Poker. That's not a roller-coaster ride. It's a bungee jump. A leap into the Grand Canyon. Not only is the two-pair payoff reduced to 1-for-1, the three-of-a-kind return is 2-for-1 instead of the standard 3-for-1 on most games.

With fewer winning hands and short payoffs on frequent winners, Triple Double Bonus is a quick trip. Either you hit the big hands, or you're out of action fast.

So why do I see so many players taking the plunge? Because the big hits can be really big. Bet five coins, and four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 kicker pays 4,000 coins --- that's $1,000 on a quarter machine, as much as you'll get for a royal flush. And with four 2s, 3s or 4s, a 2, 3 or 4 as a kicker will bring us a 2,000-coin bonanza.

Our strategy changes enough that we get royals only once per 45,358 hands --- less often than in most video poker games. We get a thousand through the Aces with kicker much more often, once per 14,214 hands, and four 2s, 3s or 4s with a kicker comes along once per 5,794 hands.

Let's try out a little strategy for Triple Double Bonus Poker:

Ace of clubs, Ace of hearts, Ace of diamonds, 4 of spades, Jack of hearts

You might thinks we'd model our Triple Double Bonus strategy after Double Double Bonus. After all, in Double Double Bonus is the earliest and most popular game to use fifth-card kickers to increase bonuses on certain four-of-a-kind hands. But we play this hand the opposite of the way we'd do it in Double Double Bonus. In Double Double Bonus, we would hold just the three Aces to maximize our chances of drawing the fourth Ace. But in Triple Double Bonus, the jackpot on four Aces with a low card as a kicker is so large that we have to go for it.

2 of clubs, 2 of hearts, 2 of diamonds, 4 of spades, Jack of hearts

See what we've done here? Just substituted deuces for Aces, with the same extra cards. Is the 2,000-coin jackpot for four 2s with a kicker enough for us to keep the 4, or do we discard both the 4 and the Jack to give ourselves an extra chance at drawing the fourth deuce? The answer isn't what a Double Double Bonus player would expect. Even with a jackpot no higher than the Aces-plus-kicker payoff on Double Double Bonus, in Triple Double Bonus we hold the kicker along with the three 2s. Just discard the Jack.

Ace of clubs, Ace of hearts, 2 of diamonds, 2 of spades, 7 of clubs

How far do we push our desire to pursue the kicker hands? To the point that we hold a kicker with three Aces or three low cards, and no farther. With two Aces or fewer, we do not hold a low-card kicker. Average return per five coins wagered is 10.17 coins on the pair of Aces, but drops to 9.29 coins if we also hold one of the 2s.

Ace of spades, Ace of clubs, Ace of hearts, 2 of diamonds, 2 of spades

Just as in Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus, we break up a full house that includes three Aces. In Triple Bonus we also keep a deuce. The average return on Ace-Ace-Ace-2 is about 96 coins per five wagered, compared with 78 if we hold just the Aces. Keep the full house and we get 45 coins --- Triple Double Bonus pays 9-for-1 on full houses. Enjoy the ride --- and may the Aces keep coming.

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, with podcasts at Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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