STICKMAN'S STANCE: Playing Joker Poker - Atlantic City Style
By Jerry "Stickman"
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in craps, blackjack, video poker and advantage slot machine play. Frank Scoblete's and Jerry "Stickman's" book "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker" presents dozens of video poker games and strategies for maximum returns. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" email@example.com.
Joker Poker is a video poker game that plays with a 53-card deck rather than the normal 52-card deck. The extra card is a joker that is wild. There are several varieties of Joker Poker: Kings or Better and Two Pairs or Better is the most common. But even within these two varieties there are major differences among the pay tables. Kings or Better requires a pair of kings or higher to collect anything. The full-pay game returns 100.64 percent with perfect play. With five credits played, a royal flush pays 4000, five-of-a-kind pays 1000 and a wild royal (with a joker) pays 500. The variance (indication of bankroll swings) is 26.
The Two Pairs or Better game requires two pairs or more to collect anything. The full-pay game returns 99.92 percent and has a variance of 31. With five credits played, a natural royal flush pays 5000, five-of-a-kind pays 500, wild royal flush and straight flush pay 250.
In a departure from the way the standard Joker Poker pay tables are structured, there is a special version of the Two Pairs of Better game that pays a bonus for five-of-a-kind. This version is fairly common in Atlantic City and is sometimes referred to as AC Joker Poker. This game returns a disappointing 97.19 percent. Because over seven percent of the total return is from hitting the five-of-a-kind, the variance is a moderately high 70. With five credits played a five-of-a-kind pays 4000, and any straight flush including royals and wild royals pays 500.
The complete pay table information follows.
While the return of this game is less than I recommend, sometimes bad video poker is all that is available. However, many of these games are progressive. If the progressive jackpot reaches about 5600 for five-of-a-kind, the return exceeds 100 percent and the game becomes very playable if the player's bankroll is sufficient to ride out the added variance caused by favoring the five-of-a-kind more heavily at the expense of hitting other lower paying hands.
The simplified strategy chart for this version of the game follows. Just a note about the strategy chart: since all straight flushes whether a royal flush, wild royal flush or straight flush pay the same, the strategy chart uses the term "RS Flush" to indicate any straight flush including all royal flushes.
To use the chart, go to the "Joker Dealt" or "No Joker Dealt" section depending on whether or not you are dealt a joker. Start from the top of the section and move down row by row until you locate the row that describes your hand. Save the cards indicated, hit draw and hope for the best....
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