Video Poker - Other Games

Hello, Michael... I've played a variation of video poker recently called "Triple Play". This machine allows one to play three hands at a time where the cards one holds are carried forward from the first hand to the other two. If one is dealt, say, four of a kind on the initial draw of five cards, one will be paid on all three hands. My impression is that one's chances are more favorable on this machine versus standard jacks-or-better. Is this simply an illusion? Thanks in advance for your reply.

Peter from Ottawa, Canada

Your expected return are the same on a triple play machine as a single hand machine, assuming the same pay table.

What are the odds of being dealt a royal flush on a Triple Play video poker machine? I had this happen to me last week and nearly fell out of my chair.

David B. from El Cajon, California

The odds of being dealt a natural royal flush are 1 in 649,740 in any 52-card video poker game.

Where can I find a strategy for playing Pick 'em poker?


You can buy the video poker strategy master which can generate a very good strategy for this game, as well as most any other video poker variation.

Do you have any advice/thoughts on Spin Poker? The company that makes the game says to use the same strategy as you would use on jacks or better (if playing jacks or better SP). I've played it at the Claridge and it seems like the placement of the cards you are holding, makes a difference, such as if they are bunched up or spaced out. Also, I think you should expand your coverage on the n-play machines since it is getting more popular everyday and some people are losing a lot of money on these. I've also seen some triply play draw poker machines at 6/5 which really clean you out, such as the ones at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, which is not the place to play video poker in AC! Thanks for the great site!

Jef from Atlantic City, US

IGT was right when they said you should use the same strategy for Spin Poker as single line video poker. Mathematically speaking the odds are the same. However Spin Poker has greater volatility since 9 different lines share many of the same cards. The same is true of multi-play video poker, the strategy and return is the same for a single line game. I do get into the volatility of multi-play video poker in my video poker appendix 3.

I often play video Double-Down Stud when I’m in Las Vegas. I was curious as to how good/bad the total return of these machines are compared to the various forms of video poker. The machines at the Riviera (one of the few places I’ve seen these machines) have the following payouts:

One-coin pay table
Pair, 6-10’s 1
Pair, J-A’s 2
2 Pair 3
3 of a Kind 4
Straight 6
Flush 9
Full House 12
4 of a Kind 50
Straight-Flush 200
Royal Flush 1,000

2-5 coins, multiply 1-coin payout

5-coin Royal pays 20,000 coins

With correct play, what is the return of these machines?

As a side note, these machines earn slot points at the same rate as video poker (half the rate of the regular slots), but I find that I accumulate point faster due to the obvious double-down situations. Does that indirectly improve the return?

I enjoy your website very much! Thanks!!

Tim from Newburgh, New York

Under this pay table the house edge is 2.10% and the element of risk is 1.68%. The strategy is the same as indicated in my Double Down Stud section. Counting the raise towards cash back is like getting an extra 25% above cash back on the original bet only.

Say you are dealt 4 to a flush (4 spades for example.) In triple play video poker, you can get the same card 3 times, 1 on each line (like the 2 of spades for 3 flushes.) However, in spin poker, there is no "replacement" - I could not get the 2 of spades on all 3 lines. Does this change the strategy, or is it offset by the number of lines you can win on?

Tim from Chicago, Ilinois

No, the strategy does not change. The odds are strategy are the same whether the replacement cards are all dealt from the same deck or each hand from a different deck. However there would be less volatility in a game like Spin Poker where all replacement cards are dealt from the same deck.

My wife and I play Aces and Faces in Tunica, MS, on a regular basis. We have used the basic Jacks or Better strategy as indicated on your site. Is this the optimal strategy for this game? If not, can you tell us what the optimal strategy would be on this game? Thanks.

Vance & Ashley Dennis

No! You can get a near optimal strategy for almost any game with Video Poker Strategy Master or Frugal Video Poker.

The Fremont in downtown Vegas offers a video poker game called Treasure Chest. It’s basically Jacks or Better with the full pay table with one change - if you bet max coins and get four of a kind, you are taken to a bonus screen where you can choose one of five treasure chests. The chests contain 120, 160, 320, 640, or 1,000 coins. How does this affect the theoretical return and does it change the optimum strategy? From playing, I can say most of the time you get 120 coins, and sometimes 160. Higher values seem rarer. I suspect the chest value depends on how fast you select the chest after getting to that screen.


I’ve seen this game. As I understand gaming regulations it is permissible to have the lower prizes more likely than the higher prizes. The best you can do is to estimate the average win of a four of a kind and then run that through an appropriate program to get at the optimal return. To get a strategy you can use Video Poker Strategy Master or Frugal Video Poker by entering any pay table.

Should I avoid the 50 play (or even better the 100 play) video poker machines? I’m weak and I love the rush but it’s been sucking down my cash. What should I know?


Generally speaking 50 and 100 play machines have lousy pay tables and thus should be avoided. However assuming you did find a decent pay table ask yourself what you would play on single play and then divide that by 50 or 100. For example if you play the $1 single line machines then you should play 2 cent 50 line or 1 cent 100 line games.

I read your recent article on Anything’s Wild. Just curious: How is it possible to get a Natural Royal Flush if the player chooses a 10, Jack, Queen, King, or Ace as his wild card? If T,J,Q,K or A are chosen, how does a "natural" royal differ from a "wild" royal?


I don’t recall this in the rule but I would assume they are the same as in One Eyed Jacks, in which a wild card is not forced to be wild if the player would otherwise have a natural royal flush.

I was looking at your video poker section and reviewed the "Full Pay" Deuces Wild game with a return of 100.76% using optimum strategy. However, listed below is the "Sevens Wild" game from RTG which I have played at Inet-Bet and Bodog. This pay table is identical to the "Full Pay" Deuces Wild except for the Straight Flush which actually pays 10 for 1 instead of 9 for 1. Shouldn’t this give an expected return greater than 100.76%, and not the 99.11% listed below? Do you know if I am missing something here?

Ken from Tallahassee, Florida

The reason the deuces wild game pays more is because a deuce is not normally as valuable as a seven. This is because there are more ways of making straights and straight flushes around a seven. So making deuces wild is a bigger change than making sevens wild. As I show in my section on Anything’s Wild under the same pay table making deuces wild has a return of 96.76%, while sevens wild is only 94.13%.

There is 6/5 Double Double Bonus Poker machine with a $10,100 royal payout. It’s a $1 machine, that can take a big hit on the bankroll with only 94% paybakck. I know as the jackpot increases, so does the payback percentage. I would never even consider playing this machine otherwise. Is it worth playing? The floor manager says it’s been as high as $12,000 once before. Should I consider playing it, or just not even waste my time and money?

Nathan from Edina, MN

The return of 6/5 double double bonus is 0.946569, to be exact. My table says the probability of a royal is 0.000025. However, I like to use more significant digits that that, so let’s take the return, divided by the win, which is 0.020297/800 = 0.00002537. The return of all the wins besides the royal is 0.926273. Let’s call j the breakeven jackpot amount. Solving for j:

1 = 0.926273 + 0.00002537*j
j = (1-0.926273)/ 0.00002537 = 2,906.

The 2,906 is measured in bet units. For a $1 machine ($5 total bet) the breakeven point would be $5*2,906 = $14,530. So, $12,000 is still a long way away from break-even. Before some perfectionist writes me, as the progressive goes up, the optimal strategy will change, to be more aggressive towards playing for royals. My answer assumes the player follows the same 6/5 optimal strategy the entire time.

A simple approximation for any 52-card video poker game is to add 0.5% for every extra 1,000 coins in the meter. In the case of a $10,100 meter, that is $6,100 higher than a non-progressive. It is a dollar game, so that is 6,100 coins, so add 0.5% × (6,100/1,000) = 3.05% to the base return. The base return is 92.63%, so the total return could be approximated as 94.66% + 3.05% = 97.71%. The actual return for a $10,100 meter is 97.75%, so pretty close.

On your video poker double double bonus poker strategy page, you state that if your are dealt 5 6 7 8 9, that it is correct to hold the straight. It just seems counter-intuitive to me, but if you could explain in a little more detail about why going for the straight flush is poor strategy, I would be grateful.

David from Montego Bay

In double double bonus a straight flush pays 50, a flush pays 6, and a straight pays 4. The probability of making the straight flush is 2/47, of a flush is 7/47, and of a straight is 5/47. So, the expected return of discarding the 9 is (2/47)×50 + (7/47)×6 + (5/47)×4 = 3.4468. The expected return of the straight at 4 is much more.

I am playing 8-5 triple bonus plus with a promotion adding $250 to each taxable jackpot. The double up feature is on the machines, and I am doubling each full house or better until I lose, or get over $1200. Can you assist in figuring the expected value on this game? Thanks.

Robert from Biloxi, MS

Nice find! You didn’t say what denomination you are playing, which is important, so I’m going to assume dollars. For five-coin maximum bet, the number of doubles required for a win of w (where w<1200) is 1+int(log(1200)-log(w))/log(2).

The following table shows for each initial hand the pre-double win, pre-double probability, number of doubles required, post-double win, and probability achieving the post-double win, including the $250 bonus. The lower right cell shows a return of 115.5%. You will get a jackpot every 297 hands on average, with an average jackpot of $1,717.46.

8-5 Triple Bonus Return Table with $250 Bonus for Wins of $1,200 or More

Pre-Double Win Pays Pre-Double Probability Doubles Required Post-Double Win Post-Double Probability Return
Royal flush $4000 0.000026 0 $4250 0.000026 0.02193
Straight flush $500 0.000118 2 $2250 0.00003 0.013322
4 aces $1200 0.000235 0 $1450 0.000235 0.068227
4 2-4 $600 0.000542 1 $1450 0.000271 0.078557
4 5-K $250 0.001629 3 $2250 0.000204 0.091637
Full house $40 0.010546 5 $1530 0.00033 0.100842
Flush $25 0.011055 6 $1850 0.000173 0.063913
Straight $20 0.012738 6 $1530 0.000199 0.060902
3 of a kind $15 0.075542 7 $2170 0.00059 0.256136
Two pair $5 0.123065 8 $1530 0.000481 0.147101
Jacks or better $5 0.211575 8 $1530 0.000826 0.252898
Total 0.447071 0 0 0.003364 1.155465

What is the single loosest video poker game in Vegas?


To the best of my knowledge, the loosest video poker game in Vegas is the 101.60% 5¢ Loose Deuces game at the Fitzgeralds. It is located upstairs, near the sports book.

Update: This answer was correct at the time of writing. However, said machine has since disappeared. See my Ask the Wizard #292 for the new loosest video poker machine in Vegas.

What video poker game has the highest hit frequency?

James from Las Vegas

Counting a win of 1 as a "hit" (although it is really just a push), as far as I know, the highest hit frequency is in Deuces and Joker Wild. The 99.07% pay table has a hit frequency of 50.38%. The following table shows the hit frequency of various games. Not that you asked, but as far as I know, the lowest is Royal Aces Bonus Poker at 30.09%, which starts paying at a pair of aces.

Video Poker Return and Hit Frequency

Game Return Hit Frequency
Deuces and joker wild 0.990675 0.503768
Tens or better 0.991390 0.494518
Bonus Poker 0.991660 0.455145
Jacks or Better 0.995439 0.454565
Double Double Bonus 0.989808 0.447163
Deuces wild 0.994179 0.442807
Joker poker 0.984425 0.441435
Double Bonus 0.991065 0.431893
One-eyed jacks 0.989562 0.370122
Royal aces 0.991981 0.300874

Which video poker game has the most variance?


My best guess is Royal Aces Bonus Poker. I’ve seen it only once in Mesquite years ago. It pays 800 for four aces, but compensates with a lowest paying hand of a pair of aces, as opposed to the usual jacks. Here is the return table.

Royal Aces Bonus Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal flush 800 490,090,668 0.000025 0.019669
Straight flush 100 2,417,714,292 0.000121 0.012129
Four aces 800 4,936,967,256 0.000248 0.198140
Four 2-4 80 10,579,511,880 0.000531 0.042460
Four 5-K 50 31,662,193,440 0.001588 0.079421
Full house 10 213,464,864,880 0.010709 0.107090
Flush 5 280,594,323,000 0.014077 0.070384
Straight 4 276,071,121,072 0.013850 0.055399
Three of a kind 3 1,470,711,394,284 0.073782 0.221346
Two pair 1 2,398,705,865,028 0.120337 0.120337
Pair of aces 1 1,307,753,371,584 0.065607 0.065607
Nothing 0 13,935,843,099,816 0.699126 0.000000
Total 19,933,230,517,200 1.000000 0.991982

The standard deviation is 13.58! That is over three times as high as 9-6 Jacks or Better at 4.42.

However, if you limit me to games that are easy to find, my nomination is Triple Double Bonus, with a standard deviation of 9.91. Here is that pay table.

Triple Double Bonus Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal flush 800 439,463,508 0.000022 0.017637
Straight flush 50 2,348,724,720 0.000118 0.005891
4 aces + 2-4 800 1,402,364,496 0.000070 0.056282
4 2-4 + A-4 400 3,440,009,028 0.000173 0.069031
4 aces + 5-K 160 2,952,442,272 0.000148 0.023699
4 2-4 + 5-K 80 6,376,626,780 0.000320 0.025592
4 5-K 50 31,673,324,076 0.001589 0.079449
Full house 9 206,321,656,284 0.010351 0.093156
Flush 7 311,320,443,672 0.015618 0.109327
Straight 4 252,218,322,636 0.012653 0.050613
3 of a kind 2 1,468,173,074,448 0.073655 0.147309
Two pair 1 2,390,581,734,264 0.119929 0.119929
Jacks or better 1 3,944,045,609,748 0.197863 0.197863
Nothing 0 11,311,936,721,268 0.567491 0.000000
Total 19,933,230,517,200 1.000000 0.995778

This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas.

Please assume the following is true about a single video poker machine.

  • 6-5 Bonus Poker progressive.
  • 2% meter rise on royal flush.
  • 5-coin game.

Now assume the following about me.

  • Minimum return to play of 100.5%.
  • I’m capable of playing a progressive until it hits.
  • I know perfect 6-5 Bonus Poker strategy for a 4000-coin royal.

What is the least the jackpot should be for me to play?


7,281.8 coins. It is interesting to note that if you played only once at exactly that meter then the return would be 98.5% only. The reason you should play at that point is because of the assumption you are capable of playing until you pop the jackpot. That is like having a 2% cash back slot club. 98.5% + 2% = 100.5%.

I might add that if you start playing 4000-coin jackpot strategy at exactly a 7,281.8 jackpot, you can expect to profit 201.18 bets. However, if you took the time to learn the strategy changes for a 7,281.8 coin jackpot, then your expected profit would be 234.31 coins.

On a related note, I just finished reading The Secret World of Video Poker Progressives by Frank Kneeland. This book has lots of formulas for much more complicated progressive situations, as well as practical advice and stories based on his years running a team of progressive hunters. I recommend it for advantage progressive video poker players.