Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker Video Poker
A pair of the most frequently played video poker games ever created, Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker expand on the classic structure created by Jacks or Better.
If you’re unfamiliar with video poker’s original format, take a quick detour to our Jacks or Better page to learn all about how the game works. There you’ll find video poker history, standard rules and game-play, poker hand rankings, and other essential information.
This page is intended as an introduction to Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker, both of which improve upon the Jacks or Better template by including additional payouts for differently ranked four of a kind hands.
Jacks or Better Differences
During a game of Jacks or Better, the only time card ranks actually matter is when you make a single pair, as that hand must be higher than a pair of jacks to qualify for a payout. However, in both Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker, four Aces take the cake as the most profitable four of a kind, followed by four of a kind in either 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s. This tiered system of payouts for four of a kind hands adds a new level of complexity to the decision-making process used by savvy players because prioritizing certain cards creates a wider array of draws which can be chased.
Bonus Poker Overview
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about Bonus Poker and Double Bonus video poker, including a walk-through on the rules and game-play, a primer on pay tables and how to interpret them, and even the optimal strategy used by sharp players to reduce the house edge.
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Bonus and Double Bonus Poker Rules
This was touched on during the introduction, but Bonus Poker and Double Bonus poker are hybrids of Jacks or Better, so you’ll definitely benefit by studying up on video poker’s core game before moving on to this variation. Fundamental information on standard coin denominations, how to deposit funds, toggling through pay table options, and how to control the onscreen action can be found on the Jacks or Better page.
Bonus Poker and Double Bonus poker are based on the standard hierarchy of poker hand rankings, with the only difference being how four of a kind hands are prioritized. In normal Jacks or Better, making four deuces, four Aces, or any four of a kind in between offers the same 25 credit payout, but Double Bonus video poker emphasizes Aces first, followed by low cards like the 2, 3, and 4.
The list below explains poker hand rankings in descending order of strength, and you should pay close attention to the three versions of four of a kind included in Bonus Poker and Double Bonus poker:
10 J Q K A, all of the same suit.
Any five card straight, all of the same suit.
Four of the same specific card rank, Aces.
Four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s
Four of the same specific card rank, whether there are four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s.
Four of a Kind
Four of the same card rank.
Three of a Kind AND One Pair.
Any five cards all of the same suit.
Any string of five consecutive cards.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank.
Two cards of the same rank, combined with another two cards of the same rank.
Two cards of the same rank.
Four of a Kind Payout Differences
As discussed above, the traditional payout for making four of a kind on a Jacks or Better machine is 25 credits, and it doesn’t matter which cards you do it with. However, in Bonus Poker and Double Bonus poker, four Aces pays out significant rewards of 80 and 160 credits, respectively.
Next, making four of a kind in either 2s, 3s, or 4s will return 40 credits in Bonus Poker, and 80 credits in Double Bonus poker. Landing four of a kind in 5s through Ks is good for 25 credits in Bonus Poker and 50 credits on a Double Bonus poker machine.
Notice that the name Double Bonus means exactly what it implies. The only difference between Bonus Poker and Double Bonus video poker is the payouts offered for the alternate four of a kind tiers, with Double Bonus taking those from Bonus Poker and multiplying them by two.
Other Hands Payout the Same
Aside from the inclusion of two more pay table tiers for these “special” four of a kind hands, Bonus Poker and Double Bonus poker play identically to Jacks or Better. After receiving a five-card starting hand, your job is to assess the relative strength of those cards, holding one, some, or all of them, or even discarding the lot and drawing five more. For every discard you’ll be dealt a new card, each hand features a lone drawing round, and payouts are distributed based on different versions of a standard escalating pay table.
Pay Table Breakdown
Because most people prefer to play Double Bonus video poker, the pay table information below will begin with the more popular format. Remember, Double Bonus simply multiplies the payouts on four of a kind hands by two from those found in Bonus Video Poker, so all you need to do is divide the bold numbers in the pay table below by half to determine payouts for Bonus Poker. All other payouts and percentages will remain the same.
At the conclusion of this section, a grid listing the most common pay tables for Bonus Video Poker, and their expected returns, has also been included for reference.
The preferred pay table for Double Bonus video poker, also known as the “full pay” table because it provides players with the highest payouts and expected returns, is the 10 / 7 / 5. These numbers refer to the respective payouts for a full house, a flush, and a straight.
Take a look at the pay table below to see a complete full pay list for Double Bonus poker machines:
|Full Pay 10 / 7 / 5|
|1 Coin||2 Coins||3 Coins||4 Coins||5 Coins|
|Four 2s, 3s, or 4s||80||160||240||320||400|
|Four 5s thru Four Ks||50||100||150||200||250|
|Three of a Kind||3||6||9||12||15|
|Jacks or Better||1||2||3||4||6|
Incremental Payouts for 1-4 Coin Bets
As is the case with most video poker pay tables, playing between one and four coins doesn’t change anything in terms of payouts, other than increasing them on an incremental basis. In other words, if you win 7 credits for a flush when betting a single coin, doubling your wager will double the payout to 14, and quadrupling the bet to four coins increases the payout to 28.
Because of this fact, the expected return when betting between one and four coins remains fixed, and for the case of Double Bonus poker that rate stands at 99.10 percent. For every $100 you risk over the long run, (while playing according to the optimal strategy described in the next section), you can expect to keep $99.10.
Expected Return and House Edge
Some players were brought up on the concept of house edge rather than expected return, and if that’s you, simply subtract the expected return from 100 to calculate the house edge. For this game, the house edge is 0.90 percent (100 – 99.10 = 0.90), making Double Bonus a relatively player friendly game when compared to other casino offerings.
5 Coin Bets
You might notice the expected return jumps to 100.17 percent when betting the maximum of five coins, and while this may seem like an impossibility, the key here is the payout for making a royal flush. Rather than rise incrementally, payouts for a royal flush when betting the maximum jump to 4,000 credits, which is why experienced video poker players will never bet fewer than five coins per deal during a Double Bonus session.
Variety of Payouts
Along with the full pay 10 / 7 / 5 pay tables, you’ll also find Double Bonus machines offering a variety of slightly different versions. Anything less than full pay is obviously a slightly worse bet over the long run, and the grid below shows the five most common alternative paytables found on most Double Bonus machines in brick and mortar casinos. Online casinos can tweak their software on a whim, so players taking advantage of internet gambling will find even more options to choose from.
The # / # / # heading at the top of each column represents the payouts which have been altered from the 10 / 7 / 5 full pay standard. In each case, a maximum bet of five coins is assumed, so simply multiply the amounts by five to determine the true payout when max betting.
Alternate Bonus Poker Payouts
For Bonus Poker specialists, here’s the breakdown of common pay tables for that game:
|Other Bonus Poker Pay Tables|
|8 / 5 / 4 (Full Pay)||30 / 30 / 30||7 / 5 / 4||6 / 5 / 4||10 / 8 / 5|
|Four 2 – 4||40||30||40||40||40|
|Four 5 – K||25||30||25||25||25|
|Three of a Kind||3||3||3||3||3|
|Jacks or Better||1||1||1||1||1|
Alternate Double Bonus Poker Payouts
|Other Double Bonus Pay Tables|
|9 / 7 / 5||9 / 6 / 5||9 / 7 / 4||9 / 6 / 4||9 / 5 / 4|
|Four 2 – 4||80||80||80||80||80|
|Four 5 – K||50||50||50||50||50|
|Three of a Kind||3||3||3||3||3|
|Jacks or Better||1||1||1||1||1|
Double Bonus Strategy
The most important strategy you can employ in an effort to increase your odds doesn’t involve memorization or mental calculation. Instead, all you need to do is seek out the full pay versions of each game as described above.
For Bonus Poker players, that means hunting for machines which use the 8 / 5 / 4 structure, while Double Bonus players will profit more consistently on 10 / 7 / 5 pay tables. These games offer the highest expected return when you’re making sound decisions based on basic strategy.
As for the correct way to play your cards in these versions of video poker, a consensus has yet to be reached on the subject. Devoted casino game theory analysts like Michael Shackleford, the man behind the curtain at the Wizard of Odds, has devised his own set of rules in order to excel at each variant. However, his system includes an unwieldy set of 29 rules for Bonus Poker and 34 rules for Double Bonus.
Best Decisions Based on Hand
For the sake of clarity, an optimal strategy chart for Bonus Poker has been included below. In order to read the chart, all you need to do is assess your five card hand and determine which position(s) on the list you currently hold. In Online Video Poker, tough decisions occur whenever you have multiple hands to choose from, as holding or discarding the wrong cards can slowly erode your overall expected return. This chart takes each possible hand and numbers them in order of strength, so whenever you have two or more hands to choose from, simply keep the highest one on this list:
|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.||Straight, Flush, Full House||Hold pat hand|
|4.||Three of a Kind||Draw two cards|
|5.||Four cards to a Straight Flush||Draw one card|
|6.||Two Pair||Draw one card|
|7.||One high Pair (Jacks or better)||Draw three cards|
|8.||Three cards to a Royal Flush||Draw two cards|
|9.||Four cards to a Flush||Draw one card|
|10.||Unsuited K Q J 10||Draw one card|
|11.||One low pair (Tens or lower)||Draw three cards|
|12.||Four cards to open-ended Straight||Draw one card|
|13.||Open ended three-card Straight Flush (1+ high cards)||Draw two cards|
|14.||Unsuited A K Q J||Draw one card|
|15.||Two suited High cards (Jacks or better)||Draw three cards|
|16.||Three cards to a Straight Flush (no high cards)||Draw two cards|
|17.||Four cards to inside Straight (with 3 high cards)||Draw one card|
|18.||Unsuited K Q J||Draw two cards|
|19.||Unsuited Q J||Draw three cards|
|20.||Three cards to a Straight Flush (gaps, 1 high card)||Draw two cards|
|21.||Unsuited K Q or K J||Draw three cards|
|22.||Suited J 10||Draw three cards|
|23.||Unsuited A K, A Q, or A J||Draw three cards|
|24.||One Ace||Draw four cards|
|25.||Three cards to a Straight Flush (no high cards)||Draw two cards|
|26.||Suited K 10 or Q 10||Draw three cards|
|27.||K, Q, or J as high card||Draw four cards|
|28.||Three cards to a Straight Flush (two gaps)||Draw two cards|
|29.||Discard everything||Draw five cards|
If this chart proves to be too much to handle, mathematical analysis has determined that players using the much more simplified basic strategy for Jacks or Better only sacrifice a tiny fraction of their overall expected return in Bonus Poker and Double Bonus poker. So with that said, feel free to stick to the shorter strategy chart used in Jacks or Better for either of these two bonus based variations.
Finally, APHeat mentions Double Bonus Poker as one of the machines that advantage players can play to beat the house.