Double Bonus Strategies and Variations

by John Grochowski

This lesson is about Double Bonus strategies and variations at Learn to Play Video Poker program.
This is one of the most popular and successful of Video Poker games and it has a variety of descendents.
Double Bonus Poker produced Double Double Bonus, Super Aces, White Hot Aces, All-American Poker and many more.
All share a couple of common characteristics--they return only 1-for-1 on two pair, but have big bonus payouts on four of a kind. These video poker versions can be found online and off.

One interesting variation is Super Double Bonus Poker.
Like Double Bonus, it pays 800 coins for a five-coin wager on four Aces, 400 on four 2s, 3s and 4s, and 250 on four 5s through 10s. Like Double Bonus, it returns only 1-for-1 on two pair.
Unlike Double Bonus, it gives us a nice 600-coin bonanza on four Jacks, Queens or Kings --- Double Bonus pays only 250.
And it returns 400 coins on a straight flush instead of the 250 on Double Bonus.
It can do that because in its full-pay version, Super Double Bonus returns 9-for-1 on full houses, 5-for-1 on flushes and 4-for-1 on straights, while full-pay Double Bonus is famous for its 10-7-5 paytable.

The paytable changes force some strategy differences on us.
Let’s look at a few sample hands for Double Bonus Strategies:

Dealt 9 of hearts, 8 of hearts, 7 of hearts, 6 of hearts, 5 of spades, hold 9-8-7-6.
We have several things at work here. The return on a flush is lower than on the best versions of Double Bonus, but the return on a straight flush is higher. At the same time, the value of the straight is diminished in this game.
The bottom line for Super Double Bonus Strategies is that for every five coins we bet, we'll average a return of 22.3 if we go for the straight flush, and that beats settling for a certain payback of 20 coins if we hold the straight.

Dealt Ace of hearts, Ace of spades, 7 of diamonds, 7 of hearts, 5 of spades, hold the pair of Aces.
We'll take our chances chasing the four-Ace jackpot, and if we don't get it, hope at least for a third Ace, or even a full house.
The expected value (EV) is 8.77 on the pair of Aces, and 8.40 on the two pair.

Dealt King of clubs, King of diamonds, 7 of clubs, 7 of spades, 5 of diamonds, hold King-King-7-7.
Again, we have a two pairs that include a high pair. However, even at 120-for-1, the payoff on four Kings, Queens or Jacks isn't enough to make us stray from the normal play at this hand. Keeping both pairs and taking the 1-in-11.75 shot at a full house remains our best play. Holding both pairs has an EV of 8.40, compared to 8.21 on just the Kings. Break up two pair only if it includes a pair of Aces.

Dealt King of hearts, King of clubs, King of spades, 9 of spades, 9 of diamonds, hold the full house.
We have to keep in mind that while the big payoff on four of the same faces is good, it's not quite good enough for us to step outside normal Double Bonus Strategies.
Hold the full house with five coins wagered, and we'll get 45 coins back. Break it up and hold just the Kings instead, and our expected value is 41.75 coins. Pretty good, but not good enough. Just as in Double Bonus, we do break up full houses that include three Aces, but not for anything less.

Dealt Queen of spades, Jack of spades, 10 of spades, Jack of diamonds, 5 of clubs, hold the pair of Jacks.
Holding Queen-Jack-10 leaves open not only a possible royal flush, but also a whole bunch of flush and straight possibilities.
We'd hold it over a pair of Jacks in full-pay Double Bonus Poker, where the values of both flushes and straights are higher than in Super Double Bonus.
The enhanced payback on four Jacks in Super Double Bonus means it's not even a close call here, with an EV of 8.20 on the Jacks and 7.40 on the three-card royal.

Dealt King of clubs, Queen of clubs, Jack of clubs, 7 of clubs, 4 of hearts, hold King-Queen-Jack.
With the flush payoff lowered to 5-for-1, we like three cards to the royal better than four cards to a flush. With King-Queen-Jack, our EV of 7.27 is far better than the 5.74 on all four clubs.

Dealt 2 of hearts, 2 of spades, 3 of diamonds, 4 of clubs, 5 of spades, hold the pair of 2s.
In good versions for Double Bonus strategies, a straight pays 5-for-1, and we'd hold the four-card straight. In Super Double Bonus, straights pay only 4-for-1, and that drops the expected value of the four-card straight enough that we'll get more in the long run out of the pair of 2s. EVs are 4.08 on the pair of 2s, and 3.40 on the four-card straight.

Dealt Queen of diamonds, Jack of diamonds, 9 of diamonds, 5 of hearts, 5 of spades, hold the pair of 5s.
With flushes paying only 5-for-1, three-card straight flushes drop down our list, even in a game like Super Double Bonus with an enhanced payoff on straight flushes.
We hit a ton more flushes than straight flushes, so the flushes are the bigger factor.
Here, the EV on the pair of 5s is 3.67, a little better than the 3.65 on Queen-Jack-9. Wondering why the pair of 5s has a lower expected value than the pair of 2s in the previous hand? It's because we get only a 250-coin payback on four 5s, compared with 400 on four 2s.

Dealt Ace of diamonds, Queen of hearts, Jack of hearts, 9 of spades, 8 of clubs, hold Queen-Jack.
No big Double Bonus Strategies are needed here. A Queen and Jack of the same suit remain a pretty good starting point, with an EV of 2.82 that easily beats the 2.34 on Queen-Jack-9-8, a four-card inside straight with two high cards.
We'll take a chance on miracle draws for a royal flush, straight flush, four Queens or four Jacks, but settle for a high pair or two pair, with chances at a flush, straight or full house.

Dealt King of diamonds, 10 of hearts, 8 of spades, 7 of spades, 4 of spades, hold the King.
Which is more important in determining our Double Bonus strategies, a depressed payoff on flushes and straights or an enhanced payoff on straight flushes?
Answer: Flushes and straights occur far more frequently, and play a much more important role in determining our strategy.
In Super Double Bonus Poker, we have higher straight flush paybacks than in full-pay Double Bonus Poker, but lower flush paybacks.
So with Super Double Bonus strategies, we hold the King, with an EV of 2.25 and discard the three-card double-inside straight flush, at 2.01.
With 10-7 Double Bonus strategies, we'd make the opposite play, and hold the three spades.

Double Bonus Strategies is followed by Royal Flushes & Video Poker
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