I first met Paul, a big video poker fan, when I was giving a daylong seminar for a park district in the Chicago suburbs.

Over the years, Paul has contacted me frequently with video poker questions. Sometimes, he has stories, and he had a fun tale of a big comeback for a winning session when he reached me in early September.

“You know me,” Paul started. “I don’t need too many bells and whistles on my video poker. But sometimes, if I’m down to the last $20 in my budget for the day, I’ll give it a go on a high volatility game. One big hit, and my day’s a success. Without the big one, I know it’s time to go and at least I’ve stayed within my budget for the day.”

I asked him how that’s worked out for him.

“Until last week, I’d have said about as you’d expect,” he said. “I lose that last $20 and go home.”

I knew Paul didn’t call me to talk about losing another $20, so I asked what changed that.

“I’d found a place with 8-5 Bonus Poker, and I budget $100 for the day. Bonus Poker is low volatility, and it usually gives me a good run for my money.

“Not this time. It had barely been an hour when the first $80 was gone. I said to myself, ‘If it’s going to go this fast, let’s make it really fast.’ I switched to 9-6 Triple Double Bonus Poker.”

I let out a low whistle. Triple Double Bonus is life in the ultra-fast lane for a player like Paul who prefers low volatility games. Its big attraction is a 4,000-coin bonanza for five coins wagered if four Aces are accompanied by a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card.

Big payoff jumps have to be offset elsewhere on the pay table. In Triple Double Bonus, Paul not only would be going from the 2-for-1 on two pairs in Bonus Poker to 1-for-1, but would have a payback drop from 3-for-1 to 2-for-1 on three of a kind.

“Yeah, I knew it was risky business,” Paul said. “You need to hit a big hand pretty fast or you’re out of the game. Especially when you’re only going to play $20.”

I guessed that the big hit came fast.

“It took a little while, but I got a full house on my second hand and a flush on my fifth, so those gave me some extra hands to work with. And I didn’t get the Aces and kicker.

“When my big hand came, it started with a pair of 2s and other low cards. I didn’t think much of it, I just held the 2s and hit the button.

“The first card on the draw was an Ace, then a 2, then finally the fourth 2. Eureka!”

Paul had himself a $500 jackpot. On Triple Double Bonus, four 2s, 3s or 4s with an Ace, 2, 3 or 4 kicker pays 2,000 coins for a five-coin bet. That same hand would have been worth 200 coins on Bonus Poker, 400 on Bonus Poker Deluxe or 800 on Double Double Bonus.

I asked Paul if it meant Triple Double Bonus would go higher in his mix of games to play.

“No way!” he replied. “I’d be a nervous wreck the whole time. I could only play this time because I’d resigned myself to losing the $20. As it was, I had my original $100 back and I had a $400 profit. I went home happy.”

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

Sign up to receive the area's top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every Thursday.