John Grochowski

John Grochowski

I started playing in a casino world where each machine had only one game and one coin denomination.

If the game was $1 Red, White and Blue, then that’s what you played unless you wanted to move to a different machine. Same for 25-cent Jacks or Better video poker. You couldn’t just touch the screen or a button and switch to $1 play and Bonus Poker. Playing that game and denomination required a move.

That all came to mind as I was looking over the brochure for International Game Technology’s Super Star Poker II. If you haven’t seen it already, no doubt you will once live casinos reopen. It’s an advanced tool that enables casinos to give more players the games they want at the price they want.

“Poker” is the name of the game, and there are video poker options galore. But there are dozens of available options, including 10 slot games, 10 variations on keno, blackjack, double-deck blackjack and roulette.

On the video poker side, there are 15 available games, from the common Jacks or Better and Double Double Bonus Poker, to recent additions such Double Bonus Shockwave.

You can play single-hand games as well as Triple Play, Five Play and Ten Play. Also available are games with more bells and whistles such as Super Times Pay, Ultimate X and Ultimate X Bonus Streak.

All are multidenominational – you can choose whether to play for nickels, dimes, quarters and more.

Not every casino will have all options activated, but there are dozens of possibilities. You can spend hours exploring different games, or you can use Super Star Poker II as a fallback when all the Ultimate X machines are full.

**On the new video poker game front, IGT has introduced Stack ’Em High, which gives you a stack of extra hands

Available in Triple Play or Five Play versions of standard video poker games, Stack ’Em High requires an extra five-credit per hand bet to activate the stack feature. That leaves a max bet of 30 coins on Triple Play and 50 on Five Play games.

On non-wild card games, the stack feature is activated any time you hold two or three Aces and no other cards. On Deuces Wild and deuces variations, the trigger is 2s – hold two or three 2s to launch the feature.

In the feature, you get extra hands for the draw. How many depends on the game and whether you’re playing Triple Play or Five Play.

In a free-play version available to members at videopoker.com, holding two Aces on Five Play Double Double Bonus Poker brings a stack of eight hands. You draw to your original five hands, plus get three extra chances to chase a big payer.

If you’re dealt three Aces, you get a stack of 11 hands – six extra chances to draw that fourth Ace and, if you’re really lucky, a low-card kicker for the 2,000-coin pay DDB players know and love.

Another sample: In Five Play Deuces Wild, holding two 2s brings a stack of eight hands, while holding three 2s brings a 13-hand stack as you keep you fingers crossed for one or more draws of the fourth deuce.

Whenever you play extra-bet games, be sure to stay within your bankroll. If you’d usually bet 15 quarters on Triple Play and betting 30 is outside your comfort zone, then either reduce your coin denomination or play a different game.

But as long as you don’t overbet, Stack ’Em High is a fun game with its extra chances at the big-paying hands that can make your session.

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