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Bob Dancer

Bob Dancer

Bob Dancer has, for years, provided some of the most insightful video poker writing in the world via his many books and articles. Bob will now be providing weekly contributions at Read his column here on Tuesdays and follow the "Archive" links to access hundreds of additional articles from Bob on video poker and related gambling subjects.

Jan. 29
Odd Man Out

This semester in my free video poker classes at the South Point, I'll be teaching, among other games, 9/6 Double Double Bonus (DDB) (February 12), 9/6 Double Double Bonus Quick Quads (QQ) (February 19), and 9/6 Double Double Bonus Ten Play Ultimate X (UX)(February 26). These games have much in common with each other, but they also have significant differences. I see people playing both QQ and UX using "normal strategy." That is a big mistake. Today's column is dedicated to showing some of the differences among the games.

First a preview: Quick Quads is a 6-coins-per-line game where the sixth coin funds special 4-of-a-kinds (known as a QQ) made up of a 3-of-a-kind and two other cards, the sum of whose ranks add up to the rank of the 3-of-a-kind. For example, 8 8 8 3 5 or 2 2 2 A A. The ace always counts as a one in terms of making QQ, but it is also a high card in the usual way. Kings, Queens, and Jacks are never part of a QQ. The game returns 99.65%.

Ultimate X is a 10-coins-per-line game where the last five coins serve to fund the multipliers. Multipliers are earned on the current hand and redeemed on the following hand. The multipliers are earned based on the pay schedule below:

Royal Flush 4
Straight Flush 4
Four Aces w/2,3,4 4
Four Aces 4
Four 2-4 w/A, 2,3,4 4
Four 2-4 4
Four 5-K 3
Full House 12
Flush 10
Straight 8
Three of a Kind 4
Two Pair 3
Jacks or Better 2
No Win 1

So if you are dealt and hold two pair and end up with a full house on the 3rd and 9th lines, then whatever score you get on the successive hands will be multiplied by 3 on most of the lines and by 12 on lines 3 and 9. The "sum of the multipliers" in this case would be 48 (8 lines*3 + 2 lines*12). A complete strategy takes into account the sum of the multipliers for every play. This makes for an exceptionally difficult strategy because there are more than 100 different possible multiplier sums. The strategy that I use and will be teaching on February 26 will be a single-strategy simplification. While simplified, the strategy still returns 99.8%.

So in today's column, consider the following eight hands:

A. A♥ A♣ 4♦ 4♠ 3♣
B.A♥ K♠ Q♦ 8♥ 4♥
C. 5♥ 5♠ 4♥ 3♦ 2♣
D.3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♥ 2♠
E.A♥ K♥ Q♥ 5♥ K♣
F. Q♠ J♣ T♠ 9♣ 9♥
G. T♦ 8♥ 7♣ 5♣ 2♣
H. T♦ 7♥ 6♠ 4♣ 3♣

In the first three hands, each of the three games has a different correct play. Your job is to figure out which play is best for each game. It is a HUGE advantage to know that each of these hands is played differently in the three games, but even so, it is not an easy task.

The last five hands are a little different. In these hands, two of the games play the hands the same as each other and one of the games plays it differently. Your job is to decide which game is the odd man out. To make it a little easier for you, I will tell you up front that each of the three games is the odd man out at least once.

a. A♥ A♣ 4♦ 4♠ 3♣. In 9/6 DDB with aces up, you just hold the aces. In UX, you hold two pair simply because full houses earn such a high multiplier. In QQ, this is known as a "Quick Trip," which is a pair (in this case 4s) with two other cards that add up to the rank of the pair (in this case the 3 and an A).

b. A♥ K♠ Q♦ 8♥ 4♥. In 9/6 DDB, you hold KQ. In this case, the ace is severely penalized with a flush penalty, a straight flush kicker penalty. Yes, I know this was sneaky and is a much more difficult hand than I'll be teaching in class. But it's not easy to find hands with three different plays and I was desperate! In UX, a 3-card flush with one high card is often held simply because Flushes give you such a strong multiplier. In QQ, we make the standard play of just the ace by itself. A single ace is worth more in this game than it is in the other two because in addition to its regular value, it can form a Quick Quad in the hands TTT9A, 9998A, 8887A, 7776A, 6665A, 5554A, 4443A, 3332A and 222AA.

c. 5♥ 5♠ 4♥ 3♦ 2♣. In 9/6 DDB, low pairs are worth more than a consecutive 4-card straight which includes no high cards, so we hold 55. In UX, we go for straights because of the strong multiplier earned when we connect, so we hold 5432. And in QQ, we have a Quick Trip again because the 3 and the 2 add up to 5, so we hold 5532.

d. 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♥ 2♠. In 9/6 DDB, we simply hold the full house. Some seat-of-the-pants players are tempted to either hold just the 3s (an $8 mistake for the $1 5-coin-player) or the 3s with a kicker (a $13 mistake), but players who practice on a computer quickly learn to avoid these enormous mistakes. In UX, you hold the full house for the additional reason that it gives you a large multiplier for your next hand. In QQ, you only hold 3332. In addition to the chances of drawing a 3 for a four 3s w/A, 2, 4 jackpot (worth 1,000 in QQ rather than the more typical 800 in the other games), you also have four aces in the deck that will give you a 3332A 400-coin jackpot.

e. A♥ K♥ Q♥ 5♥ K♣. Normally in DDB, high pairs are preferred to 3-card royals and 4-card flushes. So holding KK is the preferred play in both DDB and QQ. In UX, flushes create a big enough multiplier so that a 4-card flush with three high cards is preferred to JJ, QQ, and KK. In this case we'll hold AKQ5, but if the hand were A♥ K♥ T♥ 5♥ K♣, where the 4-card flush only has two high cards, we'd hold KK even in UX.

f. Q♠ J♣ T♠ 9♣ 9♥. We said earlier that in DDB, low pairs are preferred to consecutive 4-card straights which include no high cards, but that consecutive 4-card straights that contain one or more high cards are preferred to low pairs. So in DDB, hold QJT9. In UX, we go for straights more than usual because of the multiplier, so the play stays the same. In QQ, we get extra value from the pair of nines because we might draw 98A, 972, 963, or 954 to the pair of nines and receive 260 coins. So in QQ, holding 99 is correct.

g. T♦ 8♥ 7♣ 5♣ 2♣. This is a "nothing" sort of hand in DDB, so the correct play is to draw five new cards. In UX, since flushes give us such a high multiplier, 3-card flushes are frequently held. Almost the only time we hold 3-card flushes in QQ is when they have "Quick Quad Potential." In this particular case, if we draw a pair of 7s to the 752, we'll end up with a 260-coin QQ. A 3-card flush with QQ Potential is near the bottom of the hand hierarchy, but it is definitely better than throwing all five cards away. If there were a high card in the 3-card flush with QQ Potential (such as A56 or A89), the combination would have even greater value.

h. T♦ 7♥ 6♠ 4♣ 3♣. A 4-card inside straight with no high cards is a combination that is held in most games where you get paid single money for two pair. So in DDB and UX, hold 7643. In QQ, however, we don't hold these 4-card inside straights. It isn't that they have gone down in value, it's just that drawing five new cards has gone up in value because we MIGHT end up with a QQ. It may seem unlikely to draw 99954, but there are actually several hundred combinations that end up with some QQ, and since these QQs pay either 260 or 400 coins, when there are so many extra combinations that yield these jackpots, it sometimes makes sense to go for them.

Even though drawing five new cards in QQ is better than going for the inside straight with no high cards, holding 34 is better yet. While we would never do this in DDB (although it would only be a 28¢ error if we did, which is a far smaller error than many DDB players regularly make), there are three different draws that are worth more in QQ than in DDB. First of all, if you draw 333 or 444, the jackpot pays 1,000 rather than the 800 it does in regular DDB. And there are twelve different ways to draw 44A to the hand, giving you a 400-coin QQ. It's a close play, but 34 is definitely the best way to play the hand.

Here are all the answers together.

9/6 DDB9/6 DDB Ten Play Ultimate X9/6 DDB Quick Quads
A. A♥ A♣ 4♦ 4♠ 3♣A♥ A♣A♥ A♣ 4♦ 4♠ A♣ 4♦ 4♠ 3♣
B. A♥ K♠ Q♦ 8♥ 4♥K♠ Q♦A♥ 8♥ 4♥A♥
C. 5♥ 5♠ 4♥ 3♦ 2♣5♥ 5♠5♠ 4♥ 3♦ 2♣5♥ 5♠ 3♦ 2♣
D. 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♥ 2♠3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♥ 2♠3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♥ 2♠5♥ 5♠ 3♦ 2♣
E.A♥ K♥ Q♥ 5♥ K♣K♥ K♣A♥ K♥ Q♥ 5♥ K♥ K♣
F. Q♠ J♣ T♠ 9♣ 9♥Q♠ J♣ T♠ 9♣Q♠ J♣ T♠ 9♣9♣ 9♥
G. T♦ 8♥ 7♣ 5♣ 2♣Draw 57♣ 5♣ 2♣7♣ 5♣ 2♣
H. T♦ 7♥ 6♠ 4♣ 3♣7♥ 6♠ 4♣ 3♣7♥ 6♠ 4♣ 3♣4♣ 3♣

This column doesn't teach you enough to play these games accurately, but it does give you a taste of the logic behind why some hands are played in what may seem to be an unusual way. If you can understand the distinctions I'm making in this article, you will be able to understand what I'm saying in the classes.

I considered adding some hands like K♥ T♥ 8♠ 5♣ 3♥ and Q♥ Q♣ 5♥ 5♠ 3 and A♣ K♣ T♣ 5♣ 2♥, where you should hold KT3, QQ55, and AKT5 in all three games. Many seat-of-the-pants players regularly and expensively misplay these hands in all three games, but I think I've already provided enough food for thought today.

Finally, there were several hands ('a,' 'c,' 'd,' and 'f') where the proper play for at least one of the games was to hold only one card of a pair. Which card of the pair I displayed in the answer key was arbitrary. If you held the other paired card, it was equally correct. That is, if instead of 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♥ for the answer to the QQ game in 'd' you actually answered 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 2♠, give yourself full credit.

Get access to hundreds of additional articles from Bob Dancer in the Archives

For more of the best video poker information on the Web, read LVA's "Frugal Vegas" blog from the "Queen of Comps," Jean Scott.