Overview of Double Draw Poker
The original patent application for a new hybrid table game concept known as Double Draw Poker was filed by game inventor Ronald LaDuca in 2014. LaDuca worked for leading game design firm Shuffle Entertainment at the time, before launching his own company, In Bet Gaming, a short time later.
Over the years, the ownership rights for Double Draw Poker were passed along according to the whims of an ever fluctuating casino game manufacturing industry, moving from LaDuca and Shuffle Entertainment to Bally Technology after those companies merged. Eventually, in 2015 a company called AGS acquired the rights to the game, and since that time, Double Draw Poker has slowly expanded its presence within brick and mortar casinos in several states.
The game follows the familiar hybrid table game format, with players ringing a semi-circular table while a dealer runs the game from the opposite side. In Double Draw Poker, however, players are competing against a pay table and not a dealer’s hand.
Two Different Rounds to Draw Cards
With two distinct drawing rounds, players attempt to improve their initial five-card starting hand, with the goal being to form the highest possible five card poker hand. Spicing things up, two jokers have been added to the deck, so players have a wild card to work with while trying to land monster holdings.
Throw in an escalating bonus pay table with huge payouts for the highest hands, and Double Draw Poker provides players with an interactive, skill-based game that can produce jackpot payouts on minimal wagers.
If you’ve ever passed by the Double Draw Poker table and wondered what all the fuss was about, or simply need a new game to play on your next trip to Sin City, this page was written with you in mind. First, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the rules and gameplay structure, followed by a guide to locating the game, and finally, and introduction to the proper strategy needed to play your cards right.
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Rules and How to Play
Double Draw Poker is, as the name suggests, a poker-based table game. Thus, the traditional hierarchy of poker hands is used, with two pairs better than one pair, three of a kind better than two pairs, and so on up the ladder.
Of course, this game introduces two jokers into the mix, creating a 54 card deck. These joker cards act in the same way as in another popular table game, Pai Gow Poker, meaning they can be used as wild cards to complete any straight or flush. When not being used to complete a straight or a flush, the joker is always counted as an ace.
The objective of Double Draw Poker is to create the highest possible five-card poker hand, using two drawing rounds to improve your hand.
Different Hand Rankings
With the introduction of two wild joker cards, the hand rankings used in regular poker games are obviously adjusted, as players can now make hands like five of a kind (using four identical cards plus a joker) or a “wild royal flush” (any royal flush utilizing wild cards). The complete hand ranking hierarchy used in Double Down Poker can be viewed below:
|Five of a Kind||Four of the same card (Q Q Q Q Joker)|
|Natural Royal Flush||Broadway straight (A K Q J 10) in the same suit, using no jokers|
|Wild Royal Flush||Broadway straight (A K Q J 10) in the same suit, using one or two jokers|
|Straight Flush||Five consecutive cards (9 8 7 6 5) in the same suit|
|Four of a Kind||Four of same card (Q Q Q Q A)|
|Full House||Three of a kind + one pair (Q Q Q A A)|
|Flush||Five cards in the same suit (2h 6h 9h Kh Ah)|
|Straight||Five consecutive cards (6 5 4 3 2)|
|Three of a Kind||Three of same card (Q Q Q 2 A)|
|Two Pair||Two pairs of the same card (Q Q A A 2)|
Playing Double Draw Poker
Starting the Hand
To begin each hand, you’ll start out by placing two wagers of equal size: the Ante bet and the Bonus bet. In our running example hand, used to explain the game’s mechanics in greater depth, we’ll place $5 wagers on the Ante bet and the Bonus bet.
Unlike some other hybrid table games, players can’t choose between these bets, placing one or another. Instead, both bets are considered mandatory.
Five Cards are Dealt
Once you’ve placed both of your bets in the appropriate betting areas (which will be labeled “Ante” and “Bonus” for clarification), the dealer will then distribute five cards face down to each player.
Fold or Draw
From there, you’ll peek at your five card starting hand and the game truly begins. After assessing the strength of your hand as it currently stands, you have two options to choose from: Fold or Draw.
Repeat Above Steps Again
Once all players have either folded or gone through the drawing procedure, the process repeats itself one more time. All players still holding live hands can decide between folding or drawing, and again, the Draw bet will cost an additional wager equal to the size of your ante.
Second Drawing Round
For the second drawing round, you can choose between discarding zero or one card and taking a replacement.
Now to the good part: payouts. The minimum threshold needed to qualify in Double Draw Poker stands at two pairs. This means that any one pair hand, even a pair of aces, will result in a loss.
When you do make two pairs or better, the result of the hand will be an even money payout on your Ante bet, along with both Draw bets.
But what about that Bonus bet you put up to begin the hand? That’s where the fun starts, as your Bonus bet offers payouts according to an escalating pay table.
Start a New Hand
Once all payouts have been awarded and losing bets claimed by the house, the dealer will reshuffle the deck and begin the new hand.
Bonus Bet Payouts
The two most common pay tables used in Double Draw Poker, which are found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, respectively, have been included:
|HAND||LAS VEGAS PAY TABLE||ATLANTIC CITY PAY TABLE|
|Five of a Kind||500 to 1||500 to 1|
|Natural Royal Flush||100 to 1||100 to 1|
|Wild Royal Flush||50 to 1||50 to 1|
|Straight Flush||50 to 1||50 to 1|
|Four of a Kind||20 to 1||20 to 1|
|Full House||5 to 1||5 to 1|
|Flush||3 to 1||3 to 1|
|Straight||2 to 1||2 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||1 to 1||Push|
|One Pair or Less||Loss||Loss|
As you can see, the game’s real payouts come from the Bonus pay table, as strong hands result in increasingly large payout odds.
Differences in Possible Payouts
The only real difference between the two pay table alignments comes when you make three of a kind. Under the Las Vegas rules, you’d receive a payout of even money on your Bonus bet for landing three of a kind, but when playing under the Atlantic City pay table, you’d receive your bet back as a push.
Double Draw Poker Hand Example
- For our example hand, let’s imagine you’ve been dealt the 8c 8s 10c 2s 3d. In this case, we have a pair of 8s to begin with, so we’ll place the Draw bet for an additional $5, making our total wager $15 to this point ($5 Ante bet + $5 Bonus bet + $5 Draw bet).
- By making the Draw bet, you are now able to discard zero, one, two, or three cards, while drawing replacements to try and improve your hand. Of course, if you received a pat five card starting hand (something like 6s 7c 8d 9h 10s for a straight), you’ll still place the Draw bet, but you’ll hold all five cards and draw none.
- With your 8c 8s 10c 2s 3d in the hole for the example hand, we’ll go ahead hold the pair of 8s while discarding the other three cards. Your replacement cards come in as 8d Ac Kh, improving your hand to three of a kind.
- With three of a kind in our example hand, you’re not going anywhere, so you’ll gladly place the additional $5 for the second Draw bet.
- With the 8c 8s 8d Ac Kh held in our example hand, you’ll be best served by holding on to the three 8s and deciding between either one of your other cards to discard. For this hand, we’ll hang onto the ace and ditch the king, and just for good measure, the dealer slides you the As in return, improving your final hand to a full house.
- For our example hand, holding a full house with aces over eights, we’d qualify and receive even money payouts on our pending Ante bet ($5) and Draw bets ($5 and $5), resulting in a $15 profit.
- With a full house and a $5 chip wagered on the Bonus bet, you’d receive a 5 to 1 payout of $25 using both of the regional pay tables.
Best Places to Play Double Draw Poker
Double Draw Poker has been purchased and sold off again multiple times since the game was designed in 2012, passing from original inventor Ronald LaDuca and his In Bet Gaming to Shuffle Entertainment, then to Bally Gaming, and finally to AGS.
Over that time, the game has been approved for play in seven states. This means that any casino located in one of these five jurisdictions is able to spread Double Draw Poker if they choose.
The following brick and mortar casinos are currently known to offer Double Draw Poker tables:
Unfortunately for fans of the game, it hasn’t spread like wildfire through the brick and mortar casino industry, and after extensive searches, only a few properties in each state have been found to carry Double Draw Poker at this time.
When it comes to online play, a game known as “Double Draw Video Poker” can be found, but this game is nothing like the legitimate Double Draw Poker concept. As of now, no online versions of the original Double Draw Poker concept have been released, but with AGS’ recent acquisition of the rights to the game, it may be licensed for use by online casinos in the future.
Strategic Considerations for Double Draw Poker
With so many possible starting hand combinations and drawing scenarios, arriving at an optimal strategy for playing each hand in Double Draw Poker represents a Herculean task of mathematical analysis.
Fortunately for us laymen, renowned casino game theorist, and mathematician extraordinaire Michael Shackleford, who runs the popular Wizard of Odds site, has crunched the numbers to devise a basic strategy chart for this complex game. At five pages in length, the chart is quite dense, but after a few minutes scanning through the data you should be able to get a basic grasp on the hand strength hierarchy.
The trick to using this chart is to assess your current hand and find the all possible holdings, before keeping or drawing to the highest hand on the list. Obviously, made hands like a flush or four of a kind are held without hesitation, but most of the starting hands you’ll receive will not be made yet, requiring you to draw in hopes of improving. Courtesy of Shackleford and his supercomputer like approach to casino game theory, you now have a general roadmap to help guide you when making these close decisions.
Generally speaking, basic strategy will have you folding immediately on only 2 percent of the total hands you play, and fold after the first draw just over 10 percent of hands. The rest of the time, about 88 percent of hands, you should be drawing on both rounds.
Playing with the House Edge
In terms of assessing your house edge – a pivotal step you should take before playing any casino game – Double Draw Poker offers a house edge of 6.72 percent when using the standard paytable described in the Rules and How to Play section.
When you shift to the Atlantic City pay table, the house edge is inflated to a whopping 14.77 percent.
In both cases, this house edge rate is much too high for Double Draw Poker to be considered a playable table game. Consider, the house edge rate found on a double zero roulette wheel is 5.26 percent, while similar table games like Three Card Poker (3.37 percent) and Caribbean Stud Poker (5.22 percent) are actually lower as well.
From a purely strategic standpoint, if putting your money on the right side of variance is something you’re concerned about, the optimal play is probably to skip the Double Draw Poker game altogether. Of course, a little gamble never hurts, and the game can be quite enjoyable from an entertainment perspective, but over the long run, you’ll face a steep uphill climb toward profitability when playing this game.