Double Down Stud Video Poker
The video poker variant known as Double Down Stud has a long history dating back to the mid-1990s, but the most current version of the game is manufactured by casino game titan International Game Technology (IGT).
Primarily known as a slot machine designer and manufacturer, the Reno-based IGT was originally founded in 1975, but in more than four decades since then the company has grown to become a worldwide leader in the casino gaming industry.
IGT first released their Double Down Stud video poker game in 2002, and the format has enjoyed a relatively successful run in brick and mortar casinos ever since.
Gaming in the Present
Today, Double Down Stud machines are largely viewed by the video poker community as throwbacks to the prior generation, and for good reason. The simple and straightforward five card stud based gameplay includes only a single player decision and no drawing, making for a bland and basic experience.
Nonetheless, this game has developed its own cult following of sorts, and Double Down Stud fans consistently make their way to the machines to enjoy some old fashioned video poker action.
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Whether you’re a video poker aficionado who relishes the chance to learn a new variant, or simply a gambler with easy access to the game, this page was written with you in mind. First, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the rules and gameplay associated with Double Down Stud, followed by a handy guide to locating machines near you, before closing with an introduction to the game’s optimal strategy.
Rules and How to Play
Double Down Stud follows the standard video poker setup, so you’ll be playing on a one person machine outfitted with several buttons below a video screen.
Double Down Stud Hand Rankings
The objective of Double Down Stud is to form the highest possible five card poker hand. If you’re unfamiliar with the traditional poker hand hierarchy, please consult the following list to see how each poker hand stacks up in terms of strength:
- Royal Flush: 10 J Q K A, all in the same suit
- Straight Flush: any five card straight (4 5 6 7 8), all in the same suit
- Four of a Kind: four of the same card rank (6 6 6 6 X)
- Full House: three of a kind AND one pair (7 7 7 4 4)
- Flush: any five cards all in the same suit (2h 4h 8h Jh Ah)
- Straight: any string of five consecutive cards (4 5 6 7 8 or 9 10 J Q K)
- Three of a Kind: three of the same card rank (9 9 9 X X)
- Two Pair: (5 5 Q Q X)
- One Pair (Js As): (J J X X X)
- One Pair (6s 10s): (6 6 X X X)
Take note, in Double Down Stud, the minimum threshold you need to meet in order to earn a payout stands at one pair of 6s or better. This follows the same scheme as video poker’s most popular variant, Jacks or Better, only in this game you need to make one pair of 6s or higher in order to win.
Furthermore, the payouts on one pair hands differ depending on rank, so one pair of 6s through 10s is the lowest possible hand, followed by one pair of Jacks through Aces.
Most machines offer a minimum wager of $1, before upping the bet incrementally, so for the sake of this discussion we’ll assume that a $1 bet has been put into play.
Once you’ve deposited your funds, either via cash, coin, or casino voucher, the game begins after you choose the pay table you’d prefer to play. In online video poker, the default setting will have you playing for the minimum of one “coin” or “credit,” which in this case will be $1.
You can increase this amount to $2, $3, $4, or the maximum of $5 by toggling through the pay table options presented on a second screen located above the main game screen. For most video poker variants, betting the maximum is always advisable because the top payout for making a royal flush has an added bonus, but in Double Down Stud the payouts increase incrementally across the board, so you can feel free to wager on any of the five pay tables without sacrificing any of your expected return.
Double Down Stud Payouts
To help you visualize the pay table system, take a look at the most common pay table found in Double Down Stud video poker:
|(50/12/9/6)||1 COIN||2 COINS||3 COINS||4 COINS||5 COINS|
|Four of a Kind||50||100||150||200||250|
|Three of a Kind||4||8||12||16||20|
|One Pair (Js As)||2||4||6||8||10|
|One Pair (6s 10s)||1||2||3||4||5|
This payout scheme is considered the standard for Double Down Stud video poker and most machines will follow the 50/12/9/6 structure for four of a kind, full houses, flushes, and straights.
Playing Double Down Stud
Starting the Round
To begin a hand of Double Down Stud, you’ll toggle to the desired paytable, before pressing the “Bet One” button. This will place a wager equal to your preferred coin amount ($1 for the sake of this discussion), and the screen will then fill with four playing card graphics turned face up, along with one playing card turned face down.
The name of the game here is simple enough: assess the relative strength of your hand, based on your knowledge of four of the five cards. If you like what you see, you can press the “Double Down” button and your wager will be increased by exactly double the original amount. Then, you’ll get to see your fifth card, and based on the overall strength of your five card poker hand, you’ll either lose the total bet or receive a payout based on the pay table above.
Get Your First Four Cards
Remember, in this game, you’re not allowed to discard any portion of your hand and draw replacement cards. What you see is what you get in Double Down Stud, and the objective of the game is to exercise your Double Down option wisely, increasing the bet only when you have a decent chance of turning up a paying hand.
Let’s assume we’ve wagered $1 and the following four cards hit the screen: As Ac 7s 6s.
Raise or Fold: Fifth Card
In this case, we’ve already made one pair of Aces, so we’re already guaranteed a payout of 2 for 1 on our money. Here would be a great spot to use the Double Down option, so we’ll increase the wager to $2 total, and the fifth card is then revealed.
When we land another Ace to improve to three of a kind, the payout would be 4 for 1 on our $2 wager, for a $6 profit. One thing to keep in mind about video poker is that the payouts are awarded on a “for one” basis, rather than the typical “to one” system found in most casino games.
This simply means that your original bet is always claimed by the house before your payout is awarded. So when we bet $2 and land three of a kind under the above example, we’ll “lose” the $2 before receiving $8 in return at 4 for 1 odds. That results in a profit of $6 in total.
Other Possible Hands
What happens when we don’t score another ace, and land either a 7 or a 6 to make two pair? Here, we’ll be paid out at 3 for 1 on our $2 wager, so we’ll “lose” the $2 and get back $6 for a profit of $4 total.
How about when we’re not so lucky, and we don’t get a made hand to start out? You’ll need to brush up on basic strategy for Double Down Stud in order to play straight and flush draws perfectly (more to come in the concluding section), but for the most part, when you don’t have anything to work with, the best course of action is to avoid the Double Down option and let your original wager ride.
Once your five card poker hand has been scored, with winning wagers paid and out and losing bets claimed, a new hand will begin as soon as you press the “Deal” button.
The rules above describe the base game for Double Down Stud video poker, but IGT has outfitted its Game King machines to include several variations common to the game.
Minimum Hand to Win
These include versions in which the minimum hand needed to win stands at any one pair, one pair of 7s, one pair of 8s, or the popular video poker formats known as Double Double Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, Wild Bonus Poker, Joker Poker.
In each case, the basic gameplay rules remain the same, aside from a special caveat. In Joker Poker Double Down Stud, for example, the deck contains two joker cards which can be wild and act as any other card. In the Deuces Wild version, the deck’s four 2s are considered to be wild cards.
Check Out the Pay Tables
When playing these alternative versions of Double Down Stud, be sure to check out the pay tables for each version, as they will be adjusted slightly across the board.
Best Double Down Stud Video Poker Casinos
Along with the usual suspects of Nevada and New Jersey, you can find Double Down Stud video poker machines in casinos in four other states: Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, and Missouri.
A full statewide breakdown of Double Down Stud locations has been compiled below:
At one point a hybrid table game known as Double Down Stud could also be found in brick and mortar casinos, with a live dealer distributing the cards and following the same rules. Today, however, Double Down Stud is strictly a video poker variant.
When it comes to online play, you can find several video poker apps which include the game among their menus, as well as video poker focused online casinos. Make sure to visit our recommended online casinos page to start playing double down stud in a few minutes.
Double Down Stud Video Poker Strategy
The basic strategy for Double Down Stud can be boiled down into four simple rules regarding when to exercise the Double Down option and raise your bet.
Double Down When …
Players should Double Down when holding any of the following four card combinations:
- Any pat hand equal to one pair of 6’s or better
- Four cards to a flush, four cards to a straight flush, or four cards to a royal flush
- Four cards to any outside straight (a straight draw in which you can hit two different cards to complete the hand, such as 8 9 10 J or 2 3 4 5)
- Any unsuited J Q K A
By sticking to these mandates, you will create the highest expected return for yourself, with game conditions offering a house edge of 2.10 percent.
Large House Edge
From a strategic standpoint, however, this house edge rate is rather high within the world of video poker, so you may want to consider passing on Double Down Stud altogether. You’ll always be able to find a standard 9/6 full pay Jacks or Better video poker machine, and when you do, the house edge on the game immediately drops to 0.46 percent (when using proper strategy).
In other words, you’re facing a bet which is approximately four times worse by playing Double Down Stud video poker over Jacks or Better and similar variants. You can visit the Wizard of Odds to see more information about the math involved in this game.