A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I was playing video poker for fun on one of those free casino apps, and they had a game called Double Double Jackpot Poker. It looked a lot like Double Double Bonus Poker, but with some key differences.
The jackpot on four Aces and a kicker was 1,600 coins (per five wagered), and the kickers were Kings, Queens and Jacks instead of 2s, 3s or 4s. The hands that paid 400 without a kicker or 800 with one were face cards instead of 2s through 4s. Instead, 2s through 4s paid 250 like 5s through 10s. Straights paid 25 instead of 20.
Other than that, it was like Double Double Bonus, with a 9-6 pay table and everything.
I had a good time playing it. I got the Aces with a kicker, four Queens without, and a couple other four of a kinds.
Is this a new game? Do you know anywhere you can play it for money?
A. Double Double Jackpot Poker is far from new. It was originally marketed in the early 1990s by Sigma Games, which no longer exists.
Then as now, International Game Technology was the dominant video poker manufacturer, but Sigma, Bally and Casino Data Systems were active in developing new games.
The pay table you describe returns 100.34 percent with expert play. I’m surprised to hear of its existence even in a free-play venue. I remember playing it in casinos long ago, but I’ve not seen it in ages.
Making face cards the kicker cards and the second tier of four of a kind pays behind Aces is a huge plus for players. You’ll get four of a kind with faces more often than with low cards because you’ll often hold a single face but never a single 2, 3 or 4. You’ll draw four Aces with a kicker more often because you’ll often Ace-face but never Ace-low.
There are lower paying versions of Double Double Jackpot, including an 8-5 paytable with straights paying 4-for-1 instead of 5-for-1 that returns 96.8 percent with expert play.
But it’s been quite a long time since I’ve seen even a low-paying Double Double Jackpot game in a casino. That doesn’t mean it’s not out there somewhere, but it’s not in common use.
Q. I get why you want to hit soft 17 when the dealer shows 3 through 6. I kind of get hitting against 2 – I’ve seen the dealer pull too many 21s from 2.
Don’t you want to give the dealer a chance to bust when you have a standing hand?
A. Seventeen doesn’t put you in a powerful position. It can win only if the dealer busts. If the dealer makes 17 you push, and with 18 or better you lose.
Hits that give you a total of 12 through 16 don’t put you in much worse position. You can still win only if the dealer busts. All you give up with a bad hit is a chance to push 17.
Just as important, the dealer busts no more than 42 percent of the time with the weakest up cards, 5 or 6.
In common six-deck games in which the dealer hits soft 17, the average result of standing on soft 17 vs. any of 3, 4, 5 or 6 is a loss. If you hit, the average result flips to a small win.
You can’t turn soft 17 vs. 2 into a winner, but you can reduce losses. The average loss when standing is 15 cents per dollar wagered, while hitting reduces the loss to three-hundredths of a cent – basically break-even territory.