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STICKMAN’S STANCE: PLAYING DEUCES WILD VIDEO POKER

by Jerry "Stickman"

Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in craps, blackjack, video poker, and advantage slot machine play. Jerry "Stickman’s" new book is "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker." He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. In addition, Jerry "Stickman" along with his partner, #1 best-selling gaming author, Frank Scoblete give private lessons in dice control. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanjerry@aol.com .

Up until now, I have been reviewing video poker games that are based on Jacks or Better. In this installment, I start looking at video poker games that have one or more wild cards. A wild card can be used as any card that produces the best hand.

Of all wild card video poker games, the deuces wild category is by far the largest. Countless variations of pay tables provide a nearly limitless selection of deuces wild games for the video poker player. Helping to add to the popularity of deuces wild games are dozens of different, cool sounding, names such as Loose Deuces, Downtown Deuces, Big Split Poker Deuces Wild, Colorado Deuces, Airport Deuces, and Illinois Deuces. Even the term deuce is given the colloquial moniker of "duck." Rather than just call a short-pay schedule "a short-pay schedule" they have been given catchy nicknames; Not So Ugly Ducks and Ugly Ducks are examples.

When playing a deuces wild game there are four possible wild cards – the four 2’s; therefore, one-thirteenth of the deck consists of wild cards. That makes a lot of normally higher paying hands in a Jacks or Better game. Because of that, pays are dramatically lower than Jacks or Better. In fact, the lowest paying hand in most deuces wild games is three-of-a-kind.

Four-of-a-kind hands are much easier to get in a Deuces Wild game since one or more deuces can help form the quad. All four-of-a-kind hands are easier to get except one – four deuces. For that reason, a hand of four deuces has a very high payback. Other quads are paid significantly less than in Jacks or Better.

There are also two new hands on the pay table. The first is a royal flush with a deuce or a wild royal flush as it is commonly called, composed of one or more deuces. The second new paying hand is five-of-a-kind. It is formed by one or more deuces with the remainder of the hand being cards of the same rank. Examples are 22266, 22444, and 29999.

The strategy charts for deuces wild games is broken into five categories based on the number of deuces dealt: 4 deuces dealt, 3 deuces dealt, 2 deuces dealt, 1 deuce dealt, and no deuces dealt. The hold strategy gets more complex as fewer deuces are dealt, but the overall strategy tends to be easier to master because of the categories, and the fact that there are fewer paying hands with no deuces than in Jacks or Better.

Deuces wild video poker games are exciting and easy to learn with low variance available in many of the available games. The strategy is relatively simple and the player has two big hits to play for – the royal and four deuces.

You should seriously consider learning and playing at least one deuces wild game. Let’s look at the full-pay version of the deuces wild game.

The first (and only in this installment) wild card game we will examine is Deuces Wild. This wildly (if you will pardon the pun) popular video poker game has been around for decades. There are numerous versions and pay schedules scattered throughout almost every casino. The full-pay version of this game returns more than 100 percent – 100.76 percent to be more precise. This game was quite prevalent years ago, but a combination of better informed and trained players (and casino greed) have decimated the inventory of these great games. Though rare, they still can be found, however.

One of the hardest things to get used to when playing Deuces Wild Poker is that high cards are virtually meaningless. There is no such thing as a high pair. The lowest pay is three of a kind. If the player is used to the strategy for a Jacks or Better style game, it will take a while to get the new strategy down – all pairs are equal and single high cards are meaningless.

Unlike the Jacks or Better-based games, where only one or two pays are changed to reduce the return, several different pays are regularly changed to modify the return on this game. There are arguably more different pay table versions of Deuces Wild than any other video poker game. Because of this, the shortcut name for full-pay and various short-pay games requires more than just two numbers to designate them. In addition, because there are so many different pay tables available, it is even more important to check all the lines on the pay table to make sure you are playing the game that you think you are playing.

With dozens of different pay schedules available, it is beyond the scope of this series to cover all of them. However, three of the best or most common versions will be covered: Full-Pay, Not So Ugly Deuces, and Ugly Deuces. The returns vary from 100.76 percent down to 98.91 percent. Even this lowest return is still better than a lot of Jacks or Better based games available in today’s casinos

Full-pay Deuces Wild Poker is commonly referred to as 25/15/9/5. These numbers correspond to the pays for wild royal flush (25-for-1), 5-of-a-kind (15-for-1), straight flush (9-for-1), and 4-of-a-kind (5-for-1). Here is the complete pay table information for full-pay Deuces Wild Poker.

Deuces Wild Poker (25/15/9/5) Full-Pay – Payback: 100.76 Percent, Variance: 25.8

Hand

1 Coin

2 Coins

3 Coins

4 Coins

5 Coins

ROYAL FLUSH no 2s

250

500

750

1000

4000

4 DEUCES

200

400

600

800

1000

WILD ROYAL FLUSH

25

50

75

100

125

5 OF A KIND

15

30

45

60

75

STRAIGHT FLUSH

9

18

27

36

45

4 OF A KIND

5

10

15

20

25

FULL HOUSE

3

6

9

12

15

FLUSH

2

4

6

8

10

STRAIGHT

2

4

6

8

10

3 OF A KIND

1

2

3

4

5

Hand

Pay 5 Coins

Occurs Every

% Return

ROYAL FLUSH no 2s

4000

45,281.9

1.77

4 DEUCES

1000

4909.1

4.07

WILD ROYAL FLUSH.

125

556.8

4.49

5 OF A KIND

75

312.3

4.80

STRAIGHT FLUSH

45

242.7

3.71

4 OF A KIND

25

15.4

32.47

FULL HOUSE..

15

47.1

6.37

FLUSH

10

60.5

3.30

STRAIGHT

10

17.7

11.32

3 OF A KIND

5

3.5

28.45

NO WIN

0

1.8

0

Deuces Wild Poker has two jackpot sized pays – the royal flush with no deuces and a hand containing four deuces. Because there are only two "jackpots," hands, and the odds for the lower one is only 200-for-1, the variance is fairly low.

The strategy for Deuces Wild is arranged quite differently from the games reviewed so far. The primary factor in determining what to hold is the number of wild cards dealt in the initial hand. The strategy is arranged starting with four wild cards, then three, then two, then one, and then none.

Here is the strategy chart for Deuces Wild Poker...

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