3 Ways to Be a Better Deuces Wild Video Poker Player

Deuces Wild Video Poker Screen, Poker Cards Spread
Most video poker players got their start by learning the foundational game of Jacks or Better. It provides the template from which all other variants are built upon.

In fact, after inventor William “Si” Redd realized that his original two pair or better payout threshold on his first Fortune 1 Draw Poker machine was too high, Jacks or Better became the prototype used to secure casino placements in Nevada.

Still, many video poker enthusiasts out there don’t consider it their game of choice. Instead, the sharpest tools in the shed bring their bankrolls to the Deuces Wild machines to score some of the best odds offered by any casino game.

Nowadays, both the gambling halls in Las Vegas and the best online casinos out there today spread Deuces Wild by default. The game enhances the action found in Jacks or Better by turning the deck’s twos into wild cards, which can be substituted for any other card in the deck to create winning hands.

As you might expect, the addition of four wild cards turns every hand of Deuces Wild into a sweat, because you never quite know when a couple of “ducks” will swim onscreen to turn a lowly pair into four of a kind.

With that being said, here are effective ways to become a better Deuces Wild video poker player.

1 – Get a Machine’s Full Pay Rate by Betting the Max Five Coins

This simple trick holds true across the spectrum of video poker variants, but Deuces Wild grinders should pay special attention to their bet sizing.

Video Poker Game MachineMore specifically, you should always bet the maximum of five coins per hand. Put another way, you should never play a hand of video poker unless you’re betting five coins.

Before I dive into the nitty gritty of why that is, you should know this rule doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive. Many video poker rookies mistakenly believe the max bet rule requires them to bet higher than their bankroll limitations allow. So, you’ll inevitably find players wagering something like three coins a hand at the $0.25 stakes for a $0.75 total outlay, all because the $1.25 max bet is “too rich for their blood.”

But here’s the thing… you don’t have to bet in quarter-coin denominations. If risking $1.25 on a five-quarter max bet is too high for your tastes, simply dial it back and change the coin denomination to nickels instead. From there, you can bet the max of five coins at a nickel apiece for a $0.25 total wager per hand.

Now that you know betting the max doesn’t have to be a bother, here’s why this rule is numero uno among video poker experts—it unlocks the game’s “jackpot” payout.

Take a look below at the “full pay” table for Deuces Wild, and pay close attention to how the various payouts escalate as the number of coins bet climbs:

Deuces Wild Pay Table (by Coins Wagered)

Full Pay 15/9/5/3 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Natural royal flush 300 600 900 1,200 4,000
Four deuces 200 400 600 800 1,000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
Five of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Straight flush 9 18 27 36 45
Four of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Full house 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 2 4 6 8 10
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
Three of a kind 1 2 3 4 5
Payback percentage 99.67% 99.67% 99.67% 99.67% 100.76%

As you can see, the minimum payout for three of a kind climbs steadily in a 1-2-3-4-5 progression. Same for the straight and flush (2-4-6-8-10), full house (3-6-9-12-15), and so on up the ladder.

Until you reach the natural royal flush, that is…

For the best hand in Deuces Wild, the payouts climb on a steady progression (300-600-900-1,200) when you bet between one and four coins. But even though the payout “should” jump to 1,500 on a five-coin max bet by following that pattern, it somehow skyrockets to 4,000 coins instead.

This is the coveted jackpot element embedded in every video poker pay table, but unless you’re betting the max of five coins per hand, you’ll lose out on that additional 2,800-coin premium when you’re lucky enough to land a natural royal.

2 – Looking for the Best Pay Tables Can Give Players the Edge

Another thing to look for in that full pay table above is the payback percentage rates found in the bottom row.

Naturally, including a juiced-up jackpot payout for five-coin bets increases the payback percentage from 99.67% to 100.76%. And no, that’s not a typo either…

Deuces Wild has become a phenomenon among savvy gamblers because you can actually enjoy a slight edge over the house when you find a machine offering the full pay table. If you hail from a table games background and prefer the casino house edge metric over payback percentage, that 100.76% rate is equal to a 0.76% player edge.

That’s nothing to sneeze at either, considering the casino industry regularly fleeces blackjack players on the back of a 0.50% house edge.

Unfortunately, the casino industry wasn’t built by offering player edge games, so most modern venues choose to spread inferior pay tables instead.

To see just how badly Deuces Wild players suffer when they encounter a substandard pay table, see the chart below:

Deuces Wild Pay Table Comparison

Pay Table Payback Percentage
25/15/9/5/3/2 100.76%
25/15/11/4/4/3 99.96%
25/16/10/4/4/3 99.73%
25/15/9/4/4/3 98.91%
20/12/10/4/4/3 97.58%
20/12/9/4/4/3 97.06%
25/16/13/4/3/2 96.77%
20/10/8/4/4/3 95.96%
25/15/10/4/3/2 94.82%

Yep, by simply tinkering with a few key payouts, adding or subtracting just a single coin, casinos discovered an easy way to separate suckers from their dough.

To make sure you never put your money behind a watered-down Deuces Wild pay table, watch out for the following payout tweaks in bold:

Pay Table 15/11/4/4 16/9/4/4 20/12 15/9/4/4 20/15/9/4/4
Natural royal flush 800 800 800 800 800
Four deuces 200 200 200 200 200
Wild royal flush 25 25 20 25 20
Five of a kind 15 16 12 15 15
Straight flush 11 9 9 9 9
Four of a kind 4 4 5 4 4
Full house 4 4 3 4 4
Flush 3 3 2 3 3
Straight 2 2 2 2 2
Three of a kind 1 1 1 1 1
Payback Percentage 99.96% 99.67% 98.94% 98.92% 97.97%

And to help you locate every last one of the remaining full pay Deuces Wild machines in your area, check out this searchable database from vpFREE2.

Just choose the 100.76% full pay table, followed by your region, to pull up a detailed directory showing every top-dollar Deuces Wild machine around.

3 – Mastering Basic Strategy Can Make Anybody a Master

Scoring that sweet 0.76% player edge requires a little more work than simply finding full pay machines. You’ll also need to know basic strategy for Deuces Wild.

Fortunately for you, I’ve got you covered there, so study the chart below to learn the optimal play for every possible scenario:

Deuces Wild Basic Strategy Chart

Four Deuces

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Four deuces Draw one

Three Deuces

Strength Staring Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Royal flush Hold pat hand
2 Straight flush Hold pat hand
3 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
4 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
5 Three of a kind, straight, or flush Hold pat hand
6 Three deuces only Draw two

Two Deuces

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Pat four of a kind or better Hold pat hand
2 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
3 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
4 Three of a kind, straight, or flush Hold pat hand
5 Two deuces only Draw three

One Deuce

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Any pat four of a kind or better Hold pat hand
2 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
3 Full house Hold pat hand
4 Four cards to straight flush Draw one
5 Three of a kind, straight, or flush Hold pat hand
6 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
7 Three-card royal flush draw Draw two
8 Three-card straight flush draw Draw two
9 One deuce only Draw four

No Deuces

Strength Starting Hand(s)/Draw(s) Optimal Play
1 Royal flush Hold pat hand
2 Four-card royal flush draw Draw one
3 Three of a kind through straight flush Hold pat hand
4 Four-card straight flush draw Draw one
5 Three-card royal flush draw Draw two
6 One pair Draw three
7 Four-card flush draw Draw one
8 Four-card open-ended straight draw Draw one
9 Three-card straight flush draw Draw two
10 Four-card inside straight draw Draw one
11 Two cards to a royal flush; Q-J high Draw three

That’s a lot of information to grasp right off the bat, so it helps to break things down based on “deuce count.”

Obviously, having multiple deuces onscreen on the same deal makes your decisions much easier, so the rules for four- and three-deuce hands are rather short and straightforward.

Basic strategy’s true strength lies in its ability to navigate the game’s closer calls.

Imagine you’ve been dealt something like the 4h-9h-10h-Jh-2s to start. In this case, you could use the wild deuce as a fifth heart to form a flush, or turn it into an 8h or Qh (which one is irrelevant) to hold a four-card straight flush draw.

Deciding between a sure payout of two coins or drawing once for two possible cards to make a straight flush for nine coins is quite a pickle, unless you have basic strategy on your side.

By consulting the “one deuce” segment of the chart above, you’ll see the four-card straight flush draw ranks higher than the pat flush. Thus, ditching the 4h and shooting for the straight flush is mathematically the best play over the long run.


Deuces Wild is known as the prince of video poker for one simple reason—it’s one of the best bets on the floor. You just won’t see very many player edge possibilities in today’s corporatized casino climate, so when a full pay Deuces Wild machine opportunity itself, many top players will devote their full bankroll to capitalize on the gold mine.