STICKMAN’S STANCE: MULTI-STRIKE POKER
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” at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the third article in a series of specialty video poker games. This month, Multi-Strike Video Poker, which is a four-line game, is examined. This game is explored for strengths and weaknesses, pluses and minuses. Hopefully, you will use this information to make intelligent choices concerning video poker games you choose to play.
Multi-Strike Poker is a variation of standard video poker. Designed by IGT over a decade ago, Multi-Strike Poker has four levels of play. As the player moves up each level, the machine plays a very distinctive sound effect. When first introduced, it seemed that someone was always playing this game, as evidenced by the nearly constant sounds from players advancing levels. Casinos have less of these games than they once did, but they are still generally available.
There are four levels of play; each level has a multiplier. The first level is standard; namely, one times pay. Level two bumps the multiplier to two times for a winning hand. Level three is four times and level four weighs in at a full eight times the normal pay. Imagine getting a royal flush at this level. Rather than receiving 4,000 credits, you would cash out a whopping 32,000 credits. (That’s 32 grand on a dollar denomination game.)
The player advances levels by getting a paying hand, which is any hand that returns any amount. To make the game a bit more interesting, there is also a “Free Ride” option that appears randomly.
Multi-Strike poker is available in nearly every variation that is available in standard play video poker. Not only that, but there are also multi-play variations. So whatever game is to your liking, you can probably find it in a Multi-Strike version.
How to Play
First, press the Select Hands button at the bottom of the screen to select one to four levels of play. Each level lights up when selected. If you are going to play Multi-Strike poker, it makes sense to always select all four levels as the upper levels are where the real money is made. You might as well just play standard video poker if you select just one level.
Next select the bet per hand by pressing the Bet Per Hand button. Again, just as in standard video poker, select the maximum of five credits per hand. This means that you will bet 20 credits per hand rather than just five.
Next, click Deal and you are dealt five cards on the bottom (or level one) line. Sometimes a “Free Ride” card will be dealt, which is replaced with a regular card after a short pause. The player then selects the cards to save and hits the Draw button just as in regular video poker. The other levels remain face down since they are not played until the next lower level has a paying hand or “Free Ride” card.
If this hand is a loser, you lose the entire 20 credits (not just five as in standard video poker). If the resulting hand is a paying hand, or if there was a “Free Ride” card, the player advances to level two. The process is repeated except level two paying hands are now paid double the normal amount. The player advances to level three (paying four times normal), and level four (paying eight times normal) in the same fashion as advancing from level one to level two. The round is over after level four has been played. It is also over when there is no “Free Ride” card or paying hand on a lower level. All accumulated winnings are collected at that time.
The increased return for Multi-Strike Poker versus the standard version of the game varies between about 0.1 percent and 0.67 percent, depending on the game. Unfortunately, the games that are available in casinos today tend to have truly awful oreturns of 95 percent or less. Some decent games are still around, so do some scouting and see what is available.
Ass an example, with proper play, a full-pay (9/6) Jacks or Better game will return 99.79 percent – a 0.25 percent improvement over a the standard 99.54% return for expert play.
The following table is from the Wizard of Odds web site. It shows the positive effect advancing the multi-strike levels has on the overall return of many Multi-Strike variants. The returns shown are with optimum play strategy.
Multi-Strike Return Table
Since the goal of lower level play is geared toward advancing to the next level, generating a paying hand has priority over getting the highest return for the hand. In other words, frequency of hit is more important the return. Strategy changes must be made to implement this goal. These cannot be done in your head. A strategy generating software program will need to be used. The strategy will change slightly on each level. When you practice, you should practice each level separately.
Even though it is generally proper to use a modified playing strategy, there are some instances when the standard video poker strategy should be used. These are when level four is reached and when any level has a “Free Ride” card. At level four, there are no additional levels to reach and with a Free Ride card, the next level is guaranteed. This means it is in the player’s best interest to maximize the return from the current hand – which is exactly what standard optimum video poker strategy does.
Except for those two instances, the player must maximize the odds of simply getting any paying hand, not necessarily the highest return from the hand.
One straightforward way to determine the level-advancing strategy is to add 6 credits to each paying hand amount for level one. Add 4 credits for level two, and 2 credits for level three. Level four (and Free Pass card) uses standard strategy.
To help demonstrate this, the table below shows what the pay tables look like at each level for full-pay Jacks or Better.
Enter these pay table changes in your strategy generating software, generate a separate strategy for level one, two and three. You may already have the strategy for level four/free pass as it is the same as standard video poker strategy. If not, generate the level four / free pass strategy also.
To see the full pay Jacks or Better Multi-Strike playing strategy on the Wizard of Odds site, go here: https://wizardofodds.com/games/video-poker/tables/multi-strike/appendix/2/
Preparing to play Multi-Strike video poker properly is a lot of work. But, if you want to play this different and exciting game, it is to your benefit to play it properly. If you are willing to do the prep work, Multi-Strike Poker can be not only fun and exciting, but profitable as well. Why not learn what is necessary to maximize your fun in the casino?
So, until next time,
All the best in your casino and life endeavors.
©2015, DeepNet Technologies. No material to be copied without express permission of DeepNet Technologies.