Bally’s All-American Video Poker

Ballys all-american video pokerAs a proprietary product of casino equipment manufacturer Bally Technologies, the variant known as Bally’s All-American Video Poker is a unique addition to the industry landscape.

Bally’s All-American is an offshoot of standard Jacks or Better video poker, and aside from adjustments to the pay table for certain key hands, both games play in identical fashion. With that said, we recommend heading to the Jacks or Better page first if you’re still learning the basics of video poker.

That page contains a one-stop video poker tutorial for beginners, including a walkthrough on how to operate the machine, deciding between different coin denominations, adjusting your wager size, assessing the importance of pay tables, and the ins and outs of optimal strategy.

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Although the Bally’s All-American video poker brand is well established, and protected by a strong trademark, the cutthroat world of casino operations inevitably created imitators and knockoffs. Along with land based machines under patriotic titles like “USA Video Poker” and the like, a number of online casinos have also copied the particular payout scheme which makes All-American such a popular game.

What to Expect

This page primarily covers the official Bally’s All-American version, although information on alternative models of the game has been included when necessary. The rules and gameplay which define All-American video poker will be discussed first, followed by a primer on the game’s basic pay tables and their effect on your bottom line, before concluding with the optimal strategy chart used by experienced players to help navigate through close drawing decisions.

Rules and How to Play All-American

Rules iconAs stated above, Bally’s All-American video poker plays in the exact same fashion as Jacks or Better, save one crucial aspect: payouts for certain hands.

Hand Rankings

Before examining this issue in further detail, first take a moment to review the standard poker hand hierarchy used to determine the strength of five card poker hands:

Royal Flush sm

Royal Flush

10 J Q K A, all in the same suit.

Straight Flush sm

Straight Flush

Any five-card straight, all in the same suit.

Four of a Kind sm

Four of a Kind

Four of the same card ranks.

Full House sm

Full House

Three of a kind AND one pair.

Flush sm

Flush

Any five cards all of the same suit.

Straight sm

Straight

Any string of five consecutive cards.

Three of a Kind sm

Three of a Kind

Three of the same card rank.

Two Pair sm

Two Pair

Two sets of two cards of the same rank.

One Pair sm

One Pair

One set of two cards of the same rank.

The order of these hands is the same as that used in Jacks or Better, and even the minimum card rank needed to make a qualifying one pair hand remains the same.

As you’ll see in the next section on pay tables, the payouts awarded for making a straight, a flush, or a full house have all been flattened at 8 credits apiece, while four of a kind or a straight flush now pays off significantly higher amounts. In effect, the payouts for a straight and flush have been slightly increased when compared to the standard Jacks or Better pay table, the payout for a full house has gone down just a bit, and payouts for four of a kind or a straight flush have ballooned.

Other than these payout discrepancies, which will be covered in greater detail below, Bally’s All American video poker plays according to the same rules and structure as Jacks or Better.

Pay Table Breakdown

Like most online video poker variants, Bally’s All American video poker is available with several different pay tables attached to the game. And as always, locating the “full pay” table offering the best possible payouts and odds is your job as a serious player.

The preferred Bally’s All-American pay table for players in the know is known as the 40 / 8 / 8 / 8 pay table, which is based on the respective payouts for Four of a Kind, followed by the three “All-American” hands, Straight, Flush, and Full House.

In every version of the Bally’s branded All-American video poker game, the payouts for these special hands stand at 8 credits each, but every so often an ambitious online casino will reduce this trio to 7 credit payouts.

Check out the 40 / 8 / 8 / 8 full pay table for Bally’s All-American below:

Full Pay 40 / 8 / 8 / 8
1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 200 400 600 800 1000
Four of a Kind 40 80 120 160 200
Full House 8 16 24 32 40
Flush 8 16 24 32 40
Straight 8 16 24 32 40
Three of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two Pair 1 2 3 4 5
Jacks or Better 1 2 3 4 5
Return % 99.63% 99.63% 99.63% 99.63% 100.72%

As you can see, this pay table follows a much different structure than the typical Jacks or Better setup, and indeed, the pay table is quite unique within all of video poker.

Payout Ranges and Differences

Lowest icon

Lowest Hand Payouts

Beginning with the lowest payouts on the scale, Bally’s All-American pays even money, or 1 credit, for making One Pair of Jacks or Better. However, rather than increasing the payout for Two Pairs to 2 credits in kind, this game maintains an even money award for the next weakest hand. Next, the payout of 3 credits for landing Three of a Kind remains the same across both games.

This reduction for two pair hands from 2 credits to even money has been made to offset the increase for the special “All-American” hands: the straight, the flush, and the straight flush. In a normal game of Jacks or Better, these payouts stand at 4, 6, and 50, respectively, but Bally’s All-American ups the ante to 8 credits for the straight and the flush, and 200 credits for the straight flush.

Medium icon

Middle Strength Payouts

The addition of flat payouts for the “middle strength” hands, Straight, Flush, and Full House is what makes Bally’s All American video poker such an interesting game to play. As you’ll learn later in the strategy section, without an escalation in payouts between these three hands, players are forced to make much more difficult decisions in terms of drawing to improve.

Moving up the pay table ladder, the key hand to watch for is Four of a Kind, as adjustments to this payout form the basis of the game’s alternative paytables. Yet again, the payout of 40 credits (less in other versions of the game) is much higher than the 25 credit reward doled out during a Jacks or Better game for making the same hand.

Highest icon

Highest Payouts

Straight Flushes pay out 200 credits in Bally’s All-American, as opposed to 50 credits in Jacks or Better while the 250 credit reward for a Royal Flush remains the same across both games. Considering the slight increases associated with two of the “middle strength” hands (straight and flush), along with hefty hikes for the game’s highest-ranked hands, Bally’s All American video poker is definitely a top-heavy game.

All of the payout information described above pertains to a minimum bet of one coin, and as you progress upward to two , three , and four coin wagers, the payouts increase on an incremental basis. However, just like you found in Jacks or Better, betting the maximum of five coins can juice the payout for a Royal Flush to a whopping 4,000 credits.

For this reason, the expected return rate listed in the bottom entry of the five coin column on the full pay table stands at 100.72 percent, rather than the 99.63 percent rate offered by all other coin wagers. If you’re more familiar with the concept of house edge, this means betting one through four coins creates a house edge of 0.37 percent against you, while betting the maximum of five coins actually nullifies the house edge, giving the player an edge of 0.72 percent over the casino. Of course, realizing these expected return rates is only possible by adhering strictly to the optimal strategy for Bally’s All-American.

Caution: Different Pay Tables and Payouts

Paytable iconThe legitimately branded Bally’s All-American video poker machines will always include the full pay 40 / 8 / 8 / 8 table, but knockoff versions of the All-American concept and online casino versions of the game will invariably devise alternative paytables. Savvy players make sure to examine the paytable of any video poker game they play quite carefully, as even a slight adjustment in just one payout can significantly reduce your expected return rate (increasing the house edge in kind).

Take a look at the grid below to study the most commonly encountered alternative paytables for All American video poker games. The # / # / # / # heading at the top of each column represents the payouts for Four of a Kind, along with the three “All-American” hands, and all payout information is based on a maximum coin denomination wager.

Pay Table
35 / 8 / 8 / 8 34 / 8 / 8 / 8 30 / 8 / 8 / 8 25 / 8 / 8 / 8 40 / 7 / 7 / 7
Royal Flush 800 800 800 800 800
Straight Flush 200 200 200 200 200
Four of a Kind 35 34 30 25 40
Full House 8 8 8 8 7
Flush 8 8 8 8 7
Straight 8 8 8 8 7
Three of a Kind 3 3 3 3 3
Two Pair 1 1 1 1 1
Jacks or Better 1 1 1 1 1
Return % 99.60% 99.37% 98.49% 97.38% 96.26%

With most of the payouts in these alternative paytables aligned perfectly with the 40 / 8 / 8 / 8 full pay version, the key figure to consider is the expected return percentage.

Changing Pay Structure, Less Expected Return

By moving down to a 35 / 8 / 8 / 8 pay structure, All-American video poker games go from positive to negative in terms of overall expectation. With that said, an expected return of 99.60 percent is still right on par with the best video poker variants, and it’s even slightly better than the 99.54 percent standard set by 9 / 6 full pay Jacks or Better.

As you move down the line to 30 / 8 / 8 / 8 games, the expected return rate remains at a reasonable level, but any other version of the game doesn’t offer the necessary odds when compared to other readily available video poker formats.

As such, the most important strategy for any player hoping to specialize in either Bally’s All-American or the knockoff versions is game-selection. Simply by searching for full pay 40 / 8 / 8 / 8 machines and games, you can automatically create one of the rarest offerings in any casino: a positive expectation game. Of course, in order to take advantage of this fortuitous situation, players must be capable of making the correct decision given any particular five-card starting hand.

If you would like to learn more about the math in this game, make sure to visit the Wizard of Odds. To get a more general approach into the game, visit its Wikipedia page.

Strategy Guidelines

General Strategy iconBased mostly on the Jacks or Better structure, proper strategy for Bally’s All American video poker adheres quite closely to optimal play from that game – except for a few crucial distinctions.

Strategy Chart

Take a look at the optimal strategy chart below, which lists the five-card starting hands you can receive in descending order of strength. In order to apply the chart, simply scan your five card holding and determine which pre-draw hands you happen to hold. After that, consult the chart and see which hand holds the highest position, and hold these cards while taking the appropriate draw if necessary.

Rank Pre-Draw Hands Optimal Decision
1. Four of a Kind / Straight Flush / Royal Flush Hold Pat Hand
2. Four cards to a Royal Flush Draw one card
3. Full House Hold Pat Hand
4. Four cards to a Straight Flush (no gaps) Draw one card
5. Flush Hold Pat Hand
6. Straight Hold Pat Hand
7. Four cards to a Straight Flush (one gap) Draw one card
8. Three of a Kind Draw two cards
9. Four cards to a Flush Draw one card
10. Two Pair Draw one card
11. One High Pair (Jacks or Better) Draw three cards
12. Three cards to a Royal Flush Draw two cards
13. One Low Pair (Tens or Lower) Draw three cards
14. Four cards to an open-ended Straight Draw one card
15. Two suited High Cards (Jacks or Better) Draw three cards
16. Three cards to a Straight Flush Draw two cards
17. Two unsuited High Cards* Draw three cards
18. Suited J/10, Q/10, or K/10 Draw three cards
19. One High Card Draw four cards
20. Five unconnected low cards Draw five cards
*With three unsuited high cards, hold lowest two

By flattening the 8 credit payouts awarded for the Straight, the Flush, and the Full House, All-American games change the dynamics associated with drawing decisions.

Differences with Traditional Jacks or Better

In traditional Jacks or Better, for example, a deal of Bally All American example hand gives you both a pat flush and an open-ended straight flush draw. According to the proper strategy chart for Jacks or Better, the optimal play here is to hold the made flush and collect the sure 6 credits, rather than drawing for two outs in the deck and hoping to earn 50 credits for completing the straight flush.

But when you consult the Bally’s All-American optimal strategy chart above, you’ll notice that four cards to a straight flush, with no gaps, is actually ranked in the 4th position. This outranks the basic flush (5th position), as well as the straight (6th position) for that matter, so holding the Bally All American example hand 2 straight flush draw is actually the correct play on a mathematical basis.

Small distinctions like this define the strategic implications of any All American video poker game, and experienced players enjoy the challenge of deciphering the subtle differences between this game and Jacks or Better.

Keep the Priorities in Mind

Although the optimal strategy chart is extremely useful and will become instinctual over time, the most important strategy tip to keep in mind can be boiled down to one simple precept: prioritize Four of a Kind, Straight Flush, and Royal Flush draws at all times.

Even though Bally’s All-American video poker is known for the unique 8 8 8 payout scheme for the “middle strength” hands, this emphasis on straights, flushes, and full houses is actually counterintuitive. With the same payout for each hand, despite that fact that each one is successively more difficult than the last to achieve, players lose the incentive to draw for these hands or even keep them as pat hands when stronger draws are also present.

Pat Hands versus Big Draws

In a normal game of Jacks or Better at the best online casinos USA, many pat hands are preferable to big draws, simply because the ratio between the guaranteed payout and the potential prize is still narrow. But with 15 more credits up for grabs by making four of a kind, and a huge 150 credit differential for landing a straight flush, All American video poker games are all about the top three hands on the pay table.