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=========================================   Thursday, August 30, 2001

Video Poker - Super Aces

Hello everyone,

Double Bonus Poker is such a popular video poker game that many other games use it as a base, John Grochowski explains.  As in Double Bonus, the payoff on two pair is dropped to 1-for-1 from the 2-for-1 in basic Jacks or Better. Also as in Double Bonus, the retum on four of a kind is dramatically increased, with a good-
sized jackpot on four Aces.

One such Double Bonus variant is called Super Aces, and it kicks the Double Bonus format up a notch. If the 800-coin jackpot for five coins played on four Aces in Double Bonus is attractive to players, why not make it even bigger? In Super Aces, four Aces bring a 2,000-coin retum for every five played. Double Double Bonus Poker also has a potential 2,000-coin payoff on the Aces, but there the player needs a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card in the hand to boost the payoff from 800 coins. In Super Aces, all four-Ace hands pay 2,000 coins for five.

That leaves a bonanza on four Aces that's half the size of the jackpot for a royal flush, and the Aces come up about once per 4,250 hands instead of once per 40,000 as a royal does.

There's a tradeoff, of course. The full house-flush-straight payoffs drop to 8-5-4 instead of the 10-7-5 you'll find on full-pay Double Bonus.

With expert play, the game returns 99.8 percent, but it's extremely volatile since so much of the long-run payoff is concentrated in a few infrequently occurring hands.

Super Aces Pay Table
Royal flush 250-for-1 *
Straight flush 50-for-1
Four Aces 400-for-1
Four 2's, 3's or 4's 80-for-1
Four 5's through Kings 50-for-1
Full house 8-for-1
Flush 5-for-1
Straight 4-for-1
Three of a kind 3-for-1
Two pair 1-for-1
Pair of Jacks or better 1-for-1

Jumps to 4,000 coins with 5 coins wagered

Try your skills at Super Aces strategy for the following sample hands.

1. Ace of Spade - Ace of Diamonds - 2, 3, 4 of Diamonds
a. Hold A-2-3-4
b. Hold the pair of Aces

Answer: 1. b. You have to change your mindset a little in Super Aces. In most Jacks or Better-based games, which include all the Double Bonus variations, you should hold a four-ard straight flush instead ofa high pair. That even includes Double Double Bonus Poker, where you get the 2,000-coin jackpot a little more than a fourth of the time you get four Aces. In Super Aces, the Ace quads are worth 2,000 coins for five played every time, and that means a strategy adjustment. Here, the expected value (EV) of holding the pair of Aces is an average return of 12.03 coins for every five coins played, while the EV on the four-card straight flush is only 11.06.

2. Ace, King, Queen, 8 of Spade, 7 of Hearts
a. Hold A-K-Q-8
b. Hold A-K-Q
c. Hold the Ace

Answer: 2. b. Because a flush is worth only 5-for-1 in Super Aces, you're better off with the three-card royal than taking a one-card shot at the flush. This maximizes your chances to pair up one of the high cards, and leaves open straight as well as flush possibilities. Your EV's are 6.65 on the three-card royal and 5.74 on the four-card flush. In 10-7 Double Bonus, with flushes paying 7-for-1, you would hold the four-card flush instead.

3. 5 of Hearts - 5 of Spades - 6 of Clubs - 7 of Hearts - 8 of Diamonds
a. Hold the pair of 5's
b. Hold 5-6-7-8

Answer: 3. a. With straights paying only 4-for-1, low pairs are a better play than four-card straights, even when the straights are open on both ends. Here, the EV is 3.62 for the pair and 3.40 for the four-card straight. In Double Bonus, with straights paying 5-for-1, you would make the opposite play.

4. Ace of Clubs - King of Hearts - 9, Jack, Queen of Diamonds
a. Hold A-K-Q-J
b. Hold Q-J-9
c. Hold Q-J
d. Hold the Ace

Answer: 4. b. I've had players tell me they NEVER hit straight flushes, that they even hit more royals than regular straight flushes. There's probably a little selective memory at work there, but even so, straight flushes are rare. They're rarer than they need to be, however, because most average players pass up too many straight-flush opportunities. Here, holding the three-card inside straight flush, Q-J-9 of the same suit, is your best play, with an EV of 3.27 that beats the 2.98 on the four-card inside straight, A-K-Q-J. I refer to that as an inside straight even though the needed card, the 10, is on one end, because only one denomination of card can complete the straight. The odds are the same as if the needed card were truly on the inside, as in 5-6-8-9. A straight is only open-ended if cards at either end can complete the hand, as in 5-6-7-8.

5. Ace of Spades - King of Hearts - 7 of Diamonds - 5 of Hearts - Deuce of Spades
a. Hold the Ace
b. Hold the King
c. Hold A-K
d. Hold A-2

Answer: 5. a. This is a problem for Double Bonus experts, who are well versed in the concept of "penalty cards." In 10-7 Double Bonus, you would hold both the Ace and the King. Why? Partly because the 2 of spades is a penalty card: Discarding it takes a card out of play that potentially could be used in either flushes or straights involving the Ace of spades. Since that card is no longer available, it diminishes the value of holding the single Ace just enough that A-K would be the better play in Double Bonus. In Super Aces, the chance of a miracle draw of four Aces forces a strategy change. You'll hit four Aces only 44 times out of every 299,360 you make this play, but the 2,000-coin payoff on those quads shift the EV's enough that you shouldn't worry so much about a penalty card.  Hold the Ace, with an EV of 2.48, instead of A-K, with an EV of 2.29.

6. King and Ace of Spades - 7 of Diamonds - 2, 5 of Hearts
a. Hold the Ace
b. Hold the King
c. Hold A-K

Answer: 6. c. The cards here are in the same ranks as they are in No.5, but there's a difference in suits. Here, the Ace and King are of the same suit, leaving flush and royal flush possibilities, as well as possible straights, high pairs, two pairs, threes of a kind, full houses and even fours of a kind. That tips the balance so that A-K, with an EV of 2.79, beats out holding the lone Ace, at 2.47, as your best play

7. King and Ace of Spades - 9, Jack, Queen of Hearts
a. Hold the Ace
b. Hold A-K
c. Hold Q-J
d. Hold Q-J-9
e. Hold A-K-Q-J

Answer: 7. d. There are all kinds of possibilities in this hand, but the strongest is the three-card inside straight flush with two high cards. Its EV of 2.77 edges out the next best choice, the 2.72 on A-K. Why does the suited A-K have a slightly lower EV here than in No.6?  Because in this case, you'd be throwing away a Queen and Jack, diminishing your chances of hitting high pairs or straights.

8. 10 and King of Hearts - 7 of Diamonds - 6 of Clubs - 3 of Spades
a. Hold the King
b. Hold K-10

Answer: 8. b. It's a closer call than in 10-7 Double Bonus, but it's the same play. You should hold K-10 of the same suit when you're not discarding any flush penalty cards (cards of the same suit as those you're holding). The EV is 2.13 for K-10, marginally better than the 2.10 on the lone King.  If you were throwing away flush
cards, you would make the opposite play. Imagine this hand with a 6 of hearts instead of the 6 of clubs. You'd hold the single King instead of K-10 because discarding the 6 would diminish your chances of drawing a flush. In full-pay Double Bonus, with its 7-for-1 flush return, you'd hold all three hearts.

9. Ace of Hearts - 7, 10 and Jack of Spades - Deuce of Clubs
a. Hold the Ace
b. Hold A-J
c. Hold J-10-7

Answer: 9. a. If you were getting 7-for-1 on flushes, as in 10-7 Double Bonus, you would embrace double-inside straight flushes such as J-10-7 of spades. (It's "double inside" because both needed cards are between others in the hand.) Those hands aren't quite as good in Super Aces, which returns only 5-for-1 for flushes. In Super Aces, the EV of 2.52 for holding the Ace beats the 2.30 for J-10-7.

10. 3, 5, 9 of Hearts - 10 of Spades - 8 of Clubs
a. Hold 9-5-3
b. Discard all five cards

Answer: 10. b. When flushes pay only 5-for-1, forget about three-card flushes with no high cards and no straight flush opportunities. A complete redraw gives you an EV of 1.63, which is better than the lowly 1.40 for the three-card flush.

Also consult the Video Poker Page at for valuable information.

Wishing you all the best,
Until next week,


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