John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Video poker strategies in print and online are nearly always geared for high-paying games.

The problem is, the high-payers are becoming increasingly rare. At a large majority of casinos, reduced pay tables are the only ones available.

Getting the most out of reduced pay tables requires adapted strategies, often driven by differences in returns on flushes.

Take Bonus Poker Deluxe. The 9-6 version, paying 99.6 percent with expert play, and even the 8-6 game, (98.5), are increasingly hard to find,

That leaves 8-5 Bonus Poker Deluxe as a common option. Getting the most out of the game requires shifting strategy gears.

It’s not my favorite way to play. If I see 8-5 Bonus Deluxe, I for better pay tables on other games. However, I frequently see the game being played. If you play it, keep these adjustments in mind:

**Always hold three parts of a royal instead of four parts of a flush. In the 9-6 or 8-6 games, we hold three-card royals most of the time, but hold four to a flush instead of Ace-King-10, Ace-Queen-10 or Ace-Jack-10.

**Hold three unsuited high cards instead of suited Jack-8-7 --- a three-card straight flush with two gaps on the inside.

**Hold a four-card inside straight with three high cards, including an Ace, instead of two suited high cards.

Every one of those adjustments is driven by the drop in flush returns from 6-for-1 on the best Bonus Deluxe machines to 5-for-1 on the common 8-5 game.

Let’s check out some sample hands for 8-5 Bonus Poker Deluxe:

Ace of spades, King of spades, 10 of spades, 5 of spades, 4 of hearts

A lower return on flushes leads us to look twice at that three-card royal, where drawing two cards also means increased chances at high pairs and opening the possibilities of two pairs, three of a kind and straights.

The average return in 8-5 BPD is 6.15 coins on Ace-King-10 or 5.43 on all four spades. In the 8-6 game, the four-flush average of 6.38 coins edges the 6.31 on Ace-King-10.

When you hold all four spades, you win on 31.9 percent of draws, with 60 percent of winners being flushes and 40 percent being high pairs that just get your money back. The adaptation to holding Ace-King-10 leaves you with 30.2 percent winners, but 81.7 percent of winners are either high pairs or two pairs at the minimum 1-for-1 payback.

A 6-for-1 return on flushes makes the higher flush proportion more desirable, but the decline to 5-for-1 leads us to settle for more high pairs with the consolation prize of a 1 in 1,081 shot at a royal flush.

King of hearts, Queen of diamonds, Jack of spades, 8 of spades, 7 of spades

We like three-card straight flushes with two gaps on the inside a lot more when flush returns are higher. In 8-5 Deluxe, the better play is to hold King-Queen-Jack, average return 2.45 coins vs. 2.35 on Jack-8-7. In the 8-6 game, it’s 2.56-to-2.45 in favor of suited Jack-8-7.

Ace of spades, King of hearts, Jack of spades, 10 of diamonds, 5 of clubs

The average return in the 8-5 game is 2.66 coins on the Ace-King-Jack-10 vs. 2.63 for the two high spades. With an 8-6 pay table, it’s 2.68 for Ace-Jack vs. 2.66 for the inside straight. It’s a close call, and it won’t cost you all that much if you learn the better game and don’t want to confuse yourself with alternate strategies. But for the best of each game, it takes a change in strategy direction.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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