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Best of John Grochowski
Ultimate X video poker14 June 2011
It was destined to be a low roller kind of morning as I strolled into a casino with $42 in my wallet, and I knew my gaming would be limited at best.
A short bankroll meant I had to walk past the table games pit, past the dollar slots and video poker, and not even think about a stop at the poker room. I could try some quarter video poker, or maybe penny slots.
Then I spotted a nickel Ultimate X video poker machine. It's a game I've been wanting to write about for some time, a fun mix of traditional five-card draw video poker with big bonus multipliers.
Even at a nickel denomination, this wasn't quite the low-roller experience I'd planned. To get the bonus feature on Ultimate X, you have to bet 10 credits per hand instead of the usual five. Games are all in Triple Play, Five Play or Ten Play versions, meaning you're playing three, five or 10 hands a once.
On the Five Play Deuces Wild game I chose, that meant I'd be betting 10 credits for each of five hands, a total of $2.50 per play. If I had no winners, I'd be through my first $20 in eight hands.
But Ultimate X gives you a chance to catch lightning in a bottle. After any winning hand, you get a multiplier. On Deuces Wild, three of a kind brings a 2x multiplier on the next hand. Multipliers rise to 3x on straights, 5x on flushes or full houses, 7x on four of a kind, a potential bonanza with 12x on straight flushes, then decrease back to 3x after five of a kind, and 2x on wild royals, four deuces or natural royals.
It's possible to get five different multipliers on any given round of Five Play. Let's say you start a hand of Deuces Wild with a 2 and four no-help cards, and just hold the deuce. Your draw is then played out five times, from five randomly shuffled electronic decks of the 47 cards you didn't see on the initial deal. Then let's say you draw three of a kind on the first hand, a straight on the second, full house on the third, four of a kind on the fourth and a straight flush on the fifth.
On the next hand, winnings on the line for the first hand would be doubled, with a 3x multiplier on the second hand, 5x on the third, 7x on the fourth and 12s on the fifth.
On this day, my multipliers came fast. On my first play, I drew one three of a kind and one straight, giving me one 2x and one 3x multiplier on the next play. Next up was the kind of hand we wait for in Ultimate X — a dealt winner. I held a deuce and two aces for a sure three of a kind. One of those hands turned into five of a kind, AND it happened to be in the 3x multiplier hand. The 80-credit pay on five of a kind turned into 240.
On hand No. 7, I held a 2, and on the top left hand, with a 5x multiplier, drew two more 2s, a 4 of clubs and a 7 of clubs. Straight flush, worth 325 credits. Not only that, it gave me a 12x multiplier on the next top left hand. The result? Four of a kind, 20 credits time 12, for 240 more nickels.
Before I knew it, I had 1,310 credits, and that gave me room to stretch out my low-roller morning. I cashed out at 815, a $20.75 profit, and drove home happy. At any bankroll level, a win is a win.
PAY TABLE SEARCH: On any of IGT's bonus video poker games — Ultimate X, Super Times Pay and Quick Quads among them — you're looking for the same pay tables as on regular video poker games. If the game is Jacks or Better, a 9/6 pay table is full pay, and lesser payoffs on full houses and flushes mean a lower-paying game.
The extra bet pays for the bonus feature, but on the base game, you still want to see the full returns.
The Ultimate X machine I was playing was a nickel game, and I expected to see lower pay tables. I did. The Deuces Wild game I chose was the version the late video poker guru Lenny Frome nicknamed "Colorado Deuces," for its widespread availability when Colorado casinos were new.
Five of a kind and straight flush paybacks are raised to 16-13 from their common 15-9. Four of a kind is reduced from 5-for-1 on full-pay Deuces to 4-for-1. That's common enough, but better-paying Deuces games with 4-for-1 quads raise straight flushes to 4-for-1 and flushes to 3-for-1. In Colorado Deuces, full houses pay only 3-for-1 and flushes 2-for-1.
The short pays on those common hands leave a game that returns only 96.8% with expert play. Normally, I'd avoid that pay table and look for a better play. But playing for nickels on a low-roller morning, you pay the price for a little entertainment.
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