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A Beginner’s Guide to Bonus Poker

An Introduction to Bonus Poker 

Bonus Poker is a hugely enjoyable variation of Jacks or Better that is made even more exciting by the bonus payouts offered for 4 of a Kind hands. The game takes virtually no time to get to grips with and you can increase your chances of success by adopting some simple strategies.  

The aim of each round of the game is to build the strongest five-card poker hand possible and the stronger your hand, the more you will win. You start by setting how many coins you want to bet on the hand and you will then be dealt five cards. You can choose which of those cards you want to hold and which you wish to discard. The discarded cards are replaced and then you will be paid out according to the strength of your hand.  

We will discuss Bonus Poker strategy in more depth below, but even at this stage of the game there is a basic tip that is important to follow. You should always bet the maximum number of coins possible on a hand. This is because the game offers a boosted payout for the best hand when betting the maximum number of coins. Therefore, if you don’t bet the maximum number of coins, you have no chance of hitting the top payout.  

Bonus Poker awards payouts as long as a hand contains at least a pair of Jacks. There are eleven different types of winning hands and it is important that you are familiar with all of them; otherwise, you will not be able to properly understand the game’s strategy. From strongest to weakest, the hands are as follows:  

  • Royal Flush – This is a hand that contains a straight flush of the highest value cards, i.e. 10, J, Q, K, A of Spades. 
  • Straight Flush – This is a hand combines a straight and a flush. In other words, it contains five sequential cards from the same suit, such as the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of Hearts. 
  • 4 of a Kind Aces – This is a bonus hand and has a boosted payout. As the name suggests, it contains four Aces of any suit.  
  • 4 of a Kind 2s, 3s or 4s – As the name suggests, this is a hand that contains four 2s, 3s or 4s. 
  • Any other 4 of a Kind – A hand that contains four 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, Js, Qs or Ks. 
  • Full House – This is a hand that combines a pair with three of a kind, for example two 6s and three 9s. The cards do not need to be of the same suit. 
  • Flush – This is a hand in which all of the cards come from the same suit, for example, 5, 9, 10, K and A of Diamonds. 
  • Straight – A hand containing five sequential cards for example 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The suit does not matter and an Ace can be used at the start or the end.  
  • Three of a Kind – This is a hand that contains three matching cards, for example three 4s 
  • Two Pair – This is hand that has two pairs, for example two 7s and two 9s. 
  • Jacks or Better – This is a hand that contains at least a pair of Jacks.  

The payouts offered by these hands will vary slightly depending on the version of the game you are playing. However, you will notice that most often, a Royal Flush offers a payout of 250 to 1, unless you are betting 5 coins, at which point it massively increases to 800 to 1. The bonus payout offered for the 4 of a Kind hands will often vary, so it is always worth checking the paytable. 

When people discuss poker hands you will often hear them talking about Inside Straights and Outside Straights. While it is not essential to understand the difference between the two, it can be helpful when you start looking into advanced strategies. An Outside Straight is simply a hand that can be made into a Straight by adding a card to one end of the sequence. For instance, 3, 8, 2, 4, 5 can be made into a straight by changing the 8 to an A or a 6. An Inside Straight is a hand that can be made into a Straight by exchanging one of the middle cards. For example, 7, K, 8, 6, 4 can be made into a Straight by exchanging the K for a 5.  

Basic Bonus Poker Strategy 

One of the great things about Bonus Poker, and indeed all forms of Video Poker, is that it is always possible to calculate the odds of certain cards appearing. This is because you know how many and what cards are in the pack and you can see which cards have already been dealt. As a result, it is possible to work out the mathematically best decision for every scenario and this is what forms the basis of Bonus Poker Strategy.  

The strategy is displayed as a list of hands. After your cards have been dealt, you start at the top of the list and then work your way down until you find the hand that matches yours. You then keep the cards that the strategy list tells you to. It sounds a little complicated, but you will get the hang of it easily enough. 

The Bonus Poker strategy list is as follows: 

  1. 4 of a Kind, Straight, Royal Flush – These are the game’s strongest and best-paying hands so if you are dealt any of them, just leave your cards as they are and enjoy the payout.  
  1. 4 to a Royal Flush – This means that you have four of the cards needed for a Royal Flush. You should keep those four cards and replace the other. 
  1. Straight, Flush, Full House – If you have any of these, then keep your hand as it is.  
  1. 3 of a Kind – Keep the three for a guaranteed payout but discard the other two as you may improve the hand to a 4 of a Kind or Full House.  
  1. 4 to a Straight Flush – Keep the four cards of a Straight Flush and replace the fifth to try to complete the hand. 
  1. 2 Pairs – Keep the two pairs for a guaranteed payout and replace the fifth card for the chance of a Full House. 
  1. A Pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces – Keep the pair and discard the others to try to upgrade to a 3 of a Kind, Full House, or 4 of a Kind. 
  1. 3 To a Royal Flush – Keep the three and replace the other two.   
  1. 4 To A Flush – Keep the four and replace the final card.  
  1. KQJT Unsuited – Keep the four cards with the hope of forming a Straight or a High Pair. 
  1. Low Pair – Hold onto the pair for the chance of hitting a 3 or a 4 or a kind. 
  1. 4 to an Outside Straight – Hold on to the cards and hope to draw a fifth to complete the Straight. 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush – Hold the three cards and hope to complete the Straight Flush. 
  1. AKQJ Unsuited – Hope to complete a Straight or a High Pair 
  1. 2 Suited High Cards – Hold them in the hope of receiving a Royal Flush or any other hand. 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush – Only if it is an open-ended Straight Flush with no high cards or gaps 
  1. 4 to an Inside Straight with 3 High Cards – The high cards are important as if you don’t manage a Straight, you have a good chance of a high pair.  
  1. Unsuited JQK – You are hoping for a Straight but may also manage a high pair. 
  1. Unsuited JQ – Same as above 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush – This is when you start drawing to a Straight Flush with any high card, even if there are gaps.  
  1. KQ, KJ Unsuited – There is a small chance of a Straight or a High Pair 
  1. JT Suited – You have a chance of a Pair of Jacks, a Straight Flush, a Straight, a Flush or even a Royal Flush.  
  1. AK, AQ, AJ Unsuited – The chance of a Straight but more likely a High Pair or even Two Pair. 
  1. Ace – You have very few options but the Ace is a strong card. 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush – This one is open ended, has no high cards, and just one gap. 
  1. KT, QT Suited – The chance of a number of hands such as a high pair. 
  1. Jack, Queen or King – A chance of a high pair. 
  1. 3 to a Straight Flush – This is the last version of this, it has no high cards and 2 gaps.  

Example 1 

You are dealt: K Hearts, Q Spades, 10 Diamonds, J Clubs, 10 Clubs  

This is number 10 on the list. You have 10, Jack, Queen and King unsuited (and an additional 10). What you need to do is discard one of the tens with the hope of forming a Straight or a High Pair.  

Example 2 

You are dealt: 7 Clubs, 8 Clubs, 9 Spades, 10 Clubs, J Clubs 

Here you have a Straight, 7 right through to Jack, and you also have four clubs, which means you have Four to a Flush. Looking at the table above, you can see that a Straight is number 3 of the list while Four to a Flush is much lower at number 9. Therefore, you keep the Straight and enjoy the payout.  


The chart can look very long and complicated at first, but it really doesn’t take long to understand and before you know it, you’ll have much of it committed to memory and will be instinctively following its rules. Combine the chart with proper bankroll management, and you will hopefully be able to enjoy many hours of Bonus Poker and other forms of video poker here at Casino.  


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