John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Video poker is one of the most interactive casino games around. It keeps players involved with draw or hold decisions on every hand, and it keeps you in the game with frequent payoffs – given expert strategy, nearly 45 percent of hands are payers in 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker.

But it’s the big jackpot hands, royal flushes and high-paying four of a kinds, that amps up the excitement factor. One big hand can turn a session into a winner and keep you coming back for more.

International Gaming Technology, manufacturer of about 95 percent of the video poker games you see in casinos, puts an accent on big-pay possibilities in its new games.

Two new ones, Face Card Frenzy Poker and Stack the Deck Poker, are available on Triple Play, Five Play and Ten Play formats with standard games such as Jacks or Better and Double Double Bonus Poker.

It takes an extra bet to activate game features. Players of bonus games should be used to that from games such as Super Times Pay, Ultimate X, Wheel Poker and others.

The funding for bigger or extra payoffs comes from the extra bets. IGT designs the games so the feature funded by the extra bet pays a percentage no lower – and often higher – than the base game. You add volatility by making the extra bet, but don’t decrease your overall payback percentage.

One you can expect to see in 2019 is Face Card Frenzy Poker. Face cards and Aces drive higher payoffs in a number of winning hands with an enhanced pay table for players who make an extra bet of one-to-five coins.

Exact pay tables can vary with the game you choose, but a full house that includes three Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces gets a big payoff boost over other full houses. Four of a kind hands also have super-sized payoffs if hey include high cards. So do other four of a kinds with a face or Ace as the fifth-card kicker. And in Deuces Wild, five of a kind gets the big-pay treatment when you have five matching high cards/wild cards.

The enhanced pay table means extra chances to land big hand that can turn an average session into a winner.

Another new game is Stack the Deck Poker, where a 2-cent per hand side bet brings extra chances at high-paying hands.

If you make the side bet, Stack the Deck adds extra cards to the deck after you see your original hand, thereby increasing your chances of improving the hand on the draw.

Once your starting hand is on the screen, three, four or five cards are added to the remaining deck before the draw. That gives you extra chances to draw a card that will complete a big payer such as a royal flush or four of a kind.

There also are a couple of additions to standard pay tables. One is the baby royal – a straight flush from 9 through King. Payback depends on the game, but it’s more than the standard straight flush while less than the royal.

And for the first time, IGT has added a five-of-a-kind payoff to non-wild card games. The extra cards added for the draw make that possible.

Regardless of whether you’re playing for oversized paybacks in Face Card Frenzy or extra chances to win at Stack the Deck, the emphasis is on the big pays that excite players most. There is risk, of course. In bad streaks, the extra bets mean your money will drain faster. That’s the tradeoff for a better chance at a really big win.

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

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