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A Beginner’s Double Bonus Poker Strategy

Double Bonus Poker is a hugely popular variation of Jacks or Better that offers boosted payouts for some of the Four of a Kind hands. As with Jacks or Better, the game awards payouts for hands that contain at least a Pair of Jacks; however, there are some important differences that you need to know. 

The Basics 

To begin with, the game is much higher variance than Jacks or Better. This means that winning hands will come along less often. However, when you do win, there is a better chance of it being a big win, which makes the game very attractive.  

The game itself is very easy to play and takes very little time to get to grips with. As with all video poker games, you need to set your coin size and how many coins you want to bet per hand. You will then be dealt five cards and need to select which to hold and which to discard. To help you, many versions of the game will automatically hold the cards if you have a winning hand. The discarded cards are then replaced and you are paid out according to the strength of your hand.  

It should be noted that in all versions of video poker it is worth betting the maximum number of coins. This is because the games generally offer a boosted payout for a Royal Flush with maximum coins bet. So, if you want a chance of hitting the biggest payout, then you need to make sure that you have placed a qualifying bet. This doesn’t mean that you have to bet a large amount of money, you can reduce your coin value and bet more coins. For example, you could bet five €0.02 coins per game for a total bet of €0.10 rather than just one €0.10 coin.  

Before looking at the strategy, the first thing to understand is the different types of winning hands. There are eleven different types of hands and from weakest to strongest they are: 

  • Jacks or Better – A hand that contains a pair of Jacks or above.  
  • Two Pair – A hand containing two pairs, for example two 6s and two Qs. 
  • Three of a Kind – A hand that containsthree matching cards, such as three 2s.  
  • Straight – A hand containing five sequential cards, such as 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. It doesn’t matter what suit the cards are and an Ace can be the first or last card.  
  • Flush – A hand containing five cards of the same suit, for example, 2, 7, Q, 8 and A of clubs. 
  • Full House – A hand containing a pair and a three of a kind, for example two 4s and three Queens. The suit of the cards is irrelevant.  
  • Four of a Kind (5s – Ks) – A hand that containsfour matching cards, that are 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, Js, Qs, or Ks. 
  • Four of a Kind (2s – 4s) – A hand that containsfour matching cards, that are 2s, 3s, or 4s. 
  • Four of a Kind (A) – A hand that containsfour Aces. 
  • Straight Flush – A hand that combines a straight with a flush. i.e. five sequential cards from the same suit. For example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of diamonds.  
  • Royal Flush – A hand containing a straight flush composed of the highest cards, 10, J, Q, K, A of spades/clubs/diamonds/hearts.  

The Strategy 

As with all forms of video poker, there is an optimal strategy for Double Bonus Poker. It shows you exactly what you should do in every situation. At first, it can appear to be a little daunting. However, after a few practise tries, you are sure to get used to it.  

Below is a list of 34 different scenarios. When using the list, you need to start at the top and work down until you find the first option that matches your hand. All you then need to do is keep the cards that fulfil the described hand. When you see the phrase ‘x to a y’, it simply means that you are holding x amount of cards for hand type y. The list is as follow: 

  1. Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Royal Flush  
  1. 4 to a Royal Flush  
  1. Three Aces  
  1. Straight, Flush, Full House  
  1. Three of a Kind (except Aces)  
  1. 4 to a Straight Flush 
  1. Two Pair 
  1. High Pair 
  1. 4 to a Flush 
  1. 3 to a Royal Flush 
  1. 4 to an Outside Straight 
  1. Low Pair 
  1. AKQJ Unsuited 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush (with More High Cards than Gaps) 
  1. 4 to an Inside Straight with 3 High Cards 
  1. QJ Suited 
  1. 3 to a Flush with 2 High Cards 
  1. 2 Suited High Cards 
  1. 4 to an Inside Straight with 2 High Cards 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush (1 Gap or 2 Gaps with High Card or 234 suited) 
  1. 4 to an Inside Straight with 1 High Card 
  1. KQJ Unsuited 
  1. JT Suited 
  1. QJ Unsuited 
  1. 3 to a Flush with 1 High Card 
  1. QT Suited 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush (2 Gaps, No High Cards) 
  1. KQ, KJ Unsuited 
  1. Ace 
  1. KT Suited 
  1. Jack, Queen or King 
  1. 4 to an Inside Straight with no High Cards 
  1. 3 to a Flush with No High Cards 
  1. Discard Everything 

Now let’s look at some examples. 

Scenario 1 

You are dealt: 8 Hearts, Jack Clubs, Queen Diamonds, Ace Clubs, 2 Diamonds 

Here you have three high cards, the Jack Clubs, Queen Diamonds and Ace Clubs. Importantly, both the Jack and the Ace are in the same suit. This corresponds to number 18 on the list, two suited high cards. As a result, you hold those two cards and discard the rest.  

Scenario 2 

You are dealt: 5 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 5 Clubs, 5 Hearts, 2 Diamonds 

This is a very easy example. It is immediately obvious that you are holding a three of a kind hand (not Aces). You hold those three cards and discard the other two. With a bit of luck you may even be dealt another 5 to make a four of a kind hand.  

Scenario 3 

You are dealt: 5 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 5 Hearts, 2 Hearts, 3 Spades 

This is similar to the last example, but you are missing the third 5 to make it a winning hand. Nonetheless, you will hold those two cards and hope to draw another in order to form a winning hand. This is number 12 on the list, low pair.  

Scenario 4 

You are dealt: 5 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 8 Clubs, 2 Hearts, 6 Hearts 

The important cards here are 5, 6, 7, 8. This is called Four to an Outside Straight. It is an Outside Straight as adding a card to either end will complete the Straight, a 4 or a 9. This means you hold those four cards, which is number 11 on the list.  

Scenario 5 

You are dealt: 5 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 8 Clubs, 2 Hearts, 4 Hearts 

This is slightly different to the previous example. You are close to having a straight, 4, 5, 7, 8, but it is 4 to an Inside Straight, as you need a card in the middle (6) to complete the Straight. Looking at the list you will first come across number 21, Four to an Inside Straight with 1 High Card. However, you do not hold a High Card (J, Q, K or A). Eventually you reach number 32, 4 to an Inside Straight with no High Cards, and this is your best option.  

Scenario 6 

You are dealt: 9 Hearts, 7 Hearts, 5 Clubs, 2 Hearts, 4 Hearts 

The first thing you should notice here is that four of your cards are Hearts. This means that you are holding 4 to a Flush, which is number 9 on the list. Simply discard the 5 Clubs and see what you draw.  

Scenario 7 

You are dealt: 9 Spades, 6 Spades, 3 Hearts, 5 Spades, 8 Diamonds 

Upon close inspection, you will realise that you are holding Three to a Straight Flush, the 5, 6 and 9 Spades. There are three versions of this hand on the list. The first, number 13 does not apply, as you do not have a high card. The second, number 20 does not apply as you have two gaps and no high cards. However, number 27 applies, and it is the best option, so you would hold those three cards. 

Scenario 8 

You are dealt: 4 Clubs, 5 Spades, 6 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 7 Hearts 

There appear to be two options here. You could hold the 4, 5, 6, 7 (which is Four to an Outside Straight) or you could hold the two 7s in the hope of forming a three or four of a kind. Looking at the list, Four to an Outside Straight is number 11, which just beats Low Pair (number 12), so you would hold the four cards. 

To Conclude 

At first, this can seem very confusing. The trick is to make sure that you are thoroughly familiar with the different types of hand. With a bit of practise, you will become very adept at spotting the different possibilities and remember, there is no time limit on video poker, so you can take your time carefully checking your options. It won’t take long for you to become familiar with the list and how it works, and hopefully, you will soon start to enjoy the rewards.  


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