One of my favorite video poker games is Deuces Wild. The strategy and tips on this page should help you get the best possible payback percentage from this game.
If you’re not familiar with Deuces Wild, it’s just like Jacks or Better video poker, but with one major difference. All of the twos in the deck are wild cards. That means they can substitute for any card you need to make a better hand.
Keep in mind that, in video poker, you don’t have to declare what hand you wind up with. The machine automatically credits you with the best possible poker hand according to the pay table it’s using.
Here are some Deuces Wild video poker strategy tips you can use moving forward.
1 – Understand What You’re Getting Into
One of the aspects of Deuces Wild that I don’t like is the variation in pay tables. In Jacks or Better, you can mostly just look at the payouts for the full house and the flush and have a good idea of what kind of payback percentage you’re facing.
To keep things simple, the pay table for a Deuces Wild video poker game is usually abbreviated to look like this:
Those are the payouts for the following hands in the following order:
- Three of a kind
- Full house
- Four of a kind
- Straight flush
- Five of a kind
- Wild royal flush
- Four deuces
- Natural royal flush
For example, a three of a kind on this game pays off at 1 for 1. A straight pays off at 2 for 1. A flush pays off at 3 for 1, and so on.
If you’re familiar with video poker and slot games in the US already, you already know that the payout for a gambling machine is handled on an X for Y basis, not an X to Y basis.
That’s one of the big differences between video poker games and table games. An even money payout on a gambling machine is like a push on a table game. An even money payout on a table game results in a one-unit profit.
2 – Learn the Best Deuces Wild Pay Tables
The pay table I listed in the first section is for a variation of Deuces Wild called “Not So Ugly Deuces Wild.” It’s not a full pay game, which means it doesn’t have the best possible payout. Good luck finding full pay Deuces Wild anymore!
But the payback percentage for NSUD is still better than almost any other game in the casino. The payback percentage for NSUD is 99.8%, but that assumes optimal play on the part of the player.
If you make bad decisions, the payback percentage for that game is dramatically lower. The pay table for a full pay game, which is a game where the player actually has an edge over the casino, looks like this:
That 5 for 1 payoff for the four of a kind makes all the difference. You’d think that it wouldn’t have that big an effect, but when you’re dealing with a game where there are four wild cards, the four of a kind comes up a lot more frequently than in other video poker games.
The payback percentage for a game with that pay table is 100.76%, which means you have a significant edge over the house. Another of the best pay tables for Deuces Wild is this one:
Notice that 500 for 1 payout for the four deuces. That’s a big deal. The payback percentage for this version is 100.15%, which is also a significant edge for the player. That game is also often called “Loose Deuces Wild.”
3 – Understand Why Your Decisions Are Important
Some people don’t believe that their playing decisions in video poker matter much. After all, you have no meaningful decisions to make on a slot machine. Since a video poker machine looks almost exactly like a slot machine, why would your decisions matter?
But think about this… Suppose you’re nuts, and every time you’re dealt a natural royal flush, you decide to discard everything except the ace.
Even if you’re the type of person who would make the mistake of holding onto a pair when you had four to a royal flush, it’s easy to see how that would affect your payback percentage.
After all, by holding the pair, you’re hoping to get a threeof a kind or better. That’s only an even money payout. By holding the four to a royal flush, you have a lower probability of getting a winning hand, but when you do, you get a whopping 800 for 1 payout.
It’s easy to see how that difference in decisions can result in a lower payback percentage for the player, too, right?
4 – Making the Right Choices in Deuces Wild Video Poker
Most video poker writers present video poker strategy in a table format, with a list of hands in descending value. That’s a legitimate way of presenting such a strategy.
These strategies, by the way, always sacrifice a certain amount of optimal play for usability. A strategy table for Deuces Wild that was 100% correct would be too long and unwieldy to use, at least if you wanted to get in more than a few hands per hour.
They still manage to get within 0.1% or 0.2% of what’s optimal.
I don’t like presenting such tables, though. Most of my readers are recreational players who aren’t fighting for every tenth of a percent.
For them, I’m going to offer a couple of tips about making the right strategy decisions in Deuces Wild. The first and most important of these should be easy to remember.
NEVER discard any deuces.
It doesn’t matter what other cards are in the hand or which other cards you’re going to discard or keep.
You ALWAYS hold any deuces that you get.
It’s so important that I’m going to repeat it again.
ALWAYS keep your deuces.
5 – Bet the Maximum of Five Coins
This is actually just as important as never discarding deuces. Most video poker games allow you to bet between one and five coins per hand. You should always bet the maximum of five coins.
The pay tables that I listed above show the payouts on a “for one” basis. That’s not how they’re presented on the machines themselves, though.
They just multiply those numbers by the number of coins you’re playing, so that you can see the actual size of the win for each hand.
If you play four coins or fewer per hand, the payout for that hand is only 200 for 1. But if you play five coins per hand, the payout for a royal flush is 800 for 1.
Sure, a royal flush only comes around once every 40,000 hands, but those extra 600 coins still account for 2% or more of the machine’s overall payback percentage.
In other words, if you play with optimal strategy and only wager one coin, two coins, three coins, or four coins, a game with a 100.15% payback percentage turns into a game with about a 98% payback percentage.
6 – Know the Differences in Payback Percentage
When you play video poker, you should have some awareness of how much you expect to lose on average. It’s an easy calculation to make.
You just multiply how much you’re wagering per hand by the number of hands you’re playing per hour. You multiply that by the payback percentage to get the amount you get back. The difference is your average loss per hour.
An average video poker player plays 600 hands per hour. Assuming you’re playing on a quarter machine, you’re betting $1.25 per hand (5 coins at 25 cents each). That’s $750 per hour in action.
If you’re playing on a game with a 100.15% payback percentage, you’re getting back $751.13 back per hour on average. This means you’re winning an average of $1.13 per hour.
On a NSUD machine, with its 99.8% payback percentage, you’re getting back $748.50 per hour on average. That’s an hourly loss of $1.50.
Small differences in payback percentage can make a big difference in how much it costs to play a Deuces Wild video poker game.
The two main things to remember about playing Deuces Wild video poker are these:
- Always bet five coins per hand.
- Always keep any deuces you get.
Of course, it’s good to be able to distinguish between pay tables, but if you only remember those two strategy tips, you’ll be ahead of 80% of the video poker players in the casino.