John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

When my wife Marcy and I went out to play one stormy July morning, I didn’t expect my focal point to be a nickel multi-hand video poker game, but there are times when a change of course is needed. This change, to Powerhouse Poker, saved my day.

When we go out together, it’s strictly low-roller day. Marcy loves penny video slots, and we just look for seats together.

Problem is, I wasn’t getting any bonuses. After four machines and four $20 bills, I told my wife, “That’s enough for now. I’m headed for video poker.”

I stayed with the day’s low-roller theme, though, and looked over some nickel multi-hand games. Powerhouse Poker beckoned.

Powerhouse is a game I’d tried and reviewed at Global Gaming Expo in 2015, but had never played for money. The big attraction is that dealt winners bring extra winning hands.

You start with two choices: game family, such as Jacks or Better, Double Bonus Poker and others, and whether to play Triple Play, Five Play or Ten Play.

I selected Bonus Poker and Triple Play. In regular Triple Play, my bet would be 15 credits per play, with the maximum five on each of the three hands. Power House takes 30 credits — activating the Power House feature requires matching the base game bet.

On a nickel game, that meant I was betting $1.50 per play.

The feature is what makes the game fun. Dealt winners bring extra hands to the top box, and when you draw, you have the chance to turn them into bigger winners, just as you can on the original three hands.

On my Bonus Poker game, a pair of Jacks or better on the deal brought three extra hands. Without those extra hands, a high pair is a net loser. Each high pair brings a five-credit win, so three of them bring 15 credits — half the 30-credit bet. But the three extra hands bring the return of the 30 credits, so you do no worse than break even on the hand and can win money if the draw improves any of the hands.

It gets better with bigger hands. Two pairs on the deal brought six extra hands to the top box, making a total of nine chances to upgrade to a full house. Three of a kind brought nine extra hands, leaving 12 chances at a full house or four of a kind. Not only that, some extra hands get multipliers, usually with winnings on one hand multiplied by two and another by three.

On Powerhouse, I had no shortage of bonuses. On a hand that started with three 2s, I got the 15-credit pay for three of a kind 11 times, but the 12th hand brought the fourth deuces for a 200-credit pay. Marcy stopped by to see how I was doing just as I was dealt three 8s. She cheered my on as I drew the fourth 8 three times and full houses twice.

She looked at the credit meter, which was at $102.50 after my original $20 buy-in.

“I’ve won back the $80 I lost on slots,” I told her.

Marcy had some nice bonus returns and finished ahead about $5 for the day. I was thrilled to break even.

As for Power House, it was a blast. If I played often, there would be losing sessions to go with the winners, just as on any game. But IGT designs the extra-bet features on video poker games to pay at least as well as the main game, and the feature’s potential for big wins adds spice to the mix.

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

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