One of the strategy quirks in video poker is that the best play is to break up full houses that include three Aces in games with big four-Ace jackpots.
That applies to games that include Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Super Aces, White Hot Aces and others with a four-Ace jackpot of 800 coins or more for a five-coin wager.
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One intriguing game with an 800-for-5 return on four Aces is Super Double Bonus Poker. It differs from others in also providing a big jackpot boost on face cards. In its full-pay, 9-5 version, it returns 99.7 percent with expert play — a great game if you can find it. In the more common 8-5 version, with full houses paying 8-for-1 and flushes 5-for-1, it returns 98.7 percent.
Given a max bet, four Jacks will bring a 600-coin return in SDBP. So will four Queens or four Kings.
That's a big leap from the 250 coin payoff on Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus and others, the 400 on Bonus Deluxe or the 125 on Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker.
Naturally, that leads players to ask if they need to adjust strategy to account for the unusual payoffs. Dealt a full house with face cards as the three of a kind, should they break it up and hope for the fourth face? Dealt two pairs, including two matched faces, should they keep both pairs or only one?
As in many games, the best strategy can change with the pay table.
Let's look at full houses first.
Dealt King-King-King-6-6 while betting five coins in the 9-5 pay table, the flat payoff for a full house is 45 coins.
If you discard the 6s and just hold the Kings, there are 1,081 possible two-card draws. Of those, 968 will leave you with three of a kind for 15-coin returns. On 67 draws, you'll get another pair to take you back to a full house and 45 coins. And on 46 draws, you'll get the fourth King for the 600-coin bonanza.
The average return is 41.8 coins, so the better play is to hold all five coins and keep the full house.
However, if you're playing the 8-5 version, keeping the full house pays only 40 coins. The average return for holding K-K-K and discarding 6-6 is 41.4 coins, so the expert play is to break up the full house.
What about two-pair hands?
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Dealt Jack-Jack-6-6-8, the average return for holding both pairs in the 9-5 game is 8.40 coins, with the 47 possible draws including four full houses along with no improvement in the other 43.
If you hold the Jacks and discard the rest, the 16,125 possible draws include 45 that would give you the four-Jack jackpot, but the average return is only 8.21 coins. The better play is to hold both pairs.
On the 8-5 version, the average return for holding both pairs decreases to 7.98 coins because of the decreased full house payoff. Average return on holding the Jacks and discarding the rest also decreases, but only to 8.16 coins. The better play is to break up the two pairs, hold the Jacks and draw three cards.
Bottom line: The jackpot on four Jacks, Queens or Kings is large enough on Super Double Bonus to break up full houses or two pairs if the full house payoff is 8-for-1 or less. But if you're fortunate enough to find a 9-for-1 return on full houses, you're best play is to stand pat on full houses and draw one card to two pairs.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).