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Last Updated: January 21, 2019

Pick 'em Poker

Introduction

Pick 'em Poker, also known as Pick a Pair Poker, is a simplified version of video poker, in which the player has only two choices, as opposed to 25=32 as in regular video poker. The game is usually found on Bally Game Maker machines under the name Pick 'em Poker, but Action Gaming/IGT also has stand alone games under the name Pick a Pair Poker. It can also be found at Internet casinos using Playtech software.

Rules

Following are the complete rules for Pick 'em Poker.

1. The game is played with a single 52-card deck
2. The player makes a bet
3. The player is given two cards, we'll call them A and B.
4. Two additional card are dealt, we'll call them C and D.
5. The player must choose which card, C or D, to add to cards A and B.
6. Two more cards are dealt from the remaining 48 in the deck to complete a 5 card stud hand, and the player is paid according to the poker value of this hand.

The actual game will show two cards face down under cards C and D, which the player is predestined to get. However mathematically it doesn't matter compared to dealing two random cards off the top of the remaining deck.

Strategy

The following strategy is based on the "Full Pay" pay table, which returns 99.95% under optimal strategy. To use the strategy look up both possible hands and play the higher hand on the list. For example suppose the player's fixed cards were 4♣ 6♣, and he has the choice of 8♣ or 4. The two hands the player must choose from are 3 to a straight flush, with two gaps, and zero high cards; or a low pair. We see the former has an expected value of 1.0949, and the latter of 1.1418. Thus choosing the 4, for the low pair, is the better play.

Pick 'em Poker - Full Pay Strategy

EV Hand
10.5869 Three of a Kind
3.1729 Q,J,10 suited
2.8271 3 to a royal, king high
2.6312 High Pair, 99-AA
2.4362 3 to a royal, ace high
2.0027 3 to a straight flush, no gaps, 5 to J high
1.5372 3 to a straight flush, 1 gap, 5 to Q high or 234 suited
1.3936 3 to a straight flush, 2 gaps, 2 or 3 high cards
1.359 3 to a flush with 3 high cards
1.2287 3 to a straight, 0 gaps, 3 high cards
1.1968 3 to a straight flush, 2 gaps, 1 high card
1.1622 3 to a flush with 2 high cards
1.1418 Low Pair, 22-88
1.0949 3 to a straight flush, 2 gaps, 0 high cards
1.039 3 to a straight, 1 gap, 3 high cards
0.9929 3 to a straight, 0 gaps, 2 high cards
0.9654 3 to a flush with 1 high card
0.922 3 to a straight, 2 gaps, 3 high cards
0.8759 3 to a straight, 1 gap, 2 high cards
0.8404 3 to a straight, 0 gaps, 1 high card
0.7686 3 to a flush with 0 high cards
0.766 3 high cards
0.7199 3 to a straight, 2 gaps, 2 high cards
0.6791 3 to a straight, 1 gap, 1 high card
0.5993 3 to a straight, 0 gaps, 5 to 8 high
0.5691 2 high cards
0.523 3 to a straight, 2 gaps, 1 high card
0.4823 3 to a straight, 1 gap, 0 high cards
0.3723 1 high card
0.3262 3 to a straight, 2 gaps, 0 high cards
0.1755 trash

Here is the same strategy using standard video poker abreviations for more experienced players.

Pick 'em Poker - Full Pay Strategy

EV Hand
10.5869 Three of a Kind
3.1729 QJTs
2.8271 KQJs, KQTs, KJTs
2.6312 High Pair, 99-AA
2.4362 Royal, Ace Hi
2.0027 STFL, Open, 345s-9TJs
1.5372 STFL, 1 Gap, 235s-9TQs, +234s
1.3936 STFL, 2 Gaps, 2 or 3 Hi Cards
1.3590 FL, 3 Hi Cards
1.2287 ST, Open, 3 Hi Cards
1.1968 STFL, 2 Gaps, 1 Hi Card
1.1622 FL, 2 Hi Cards
1.1418 Low Pair, 22-88
1.0949 STFL, 2 Gaps, 0 Hi Cards
1.0390 ST, 1 Gap, 3 Hi Cards
0.9929 ST, Open, 2 Hi Cards
0.9654 FL, 1 Hi Card
0.9220 ST, 2 Gaps, 3 Hi Cards
0.8759 ST, 1 Gap, 2 Hi Cards
0.8404 ST, Open, 1 Hi Card
0.7686 FL, 0 Hi Cards
0.7660 3 Hi Cards
0.7199 ST, 2 Gaps, 2 Hi Cards
0.6791 ST, 1 Gap, 1 Hi Card
0.5993 ST, Open, 0 Hi Cards
0.5691 2 Hi Cards
0.5230 ST, 2 Gaps, 1 Hi Card
0.4823 ST, 1 Gap, 0 Hi Cards
0.3723 1 Hi Card
0.3262 ST, 2 Gaps, 0 Hi Cards
0.1755 0 Hi Cards

Strategy created by by TomSki.
Thanks Tom for your permission to publish the above table.

Return Tables

The following tables show how the return is composed for various Pay Tables. All pay tables are per coin based on max coins played. The reason a straight flush often pays 239.8, is that with five coins bet at the \$1 coinage this would pay \$1199. At \$1200 a W2G form would be necessitated.

"Full Pay" Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 1200 5208 0.000003 0.003411
Straight Flush 239.8 47652 0.000026 0.006237
Four of a kind 120 776112 0.000424 0.05083
Full House 18 4317408 0.002356 0.042414
Flush 15 5842860 0.003189 0.047833
Straight 11 9281412 0.005066 0.055721
Three of a kind 5 54994848 0.030015 0.150073
Two pair 3 113761152 0.062088 0.186263
Nines of better 2 418444104 0.228375 0.45675
Nonpaying hand 0 1224796044 0.668459 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.999531

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 239.8 47652 0.000026 0.006237
Four of a kind 120 775680 0.000423 0.050801
Full House 18 4313520 0.002354 0.042376
Flush 15 5861868 0.003199 0.047989
Straight 10 9287892 0.005069 0.050691
Three of a kind 5 54960720 0.029996 0.14998
Two pair 3 113687280 0.062047 0.186142
Nines of better 2 418227240 0.228257 0.456513
Nonpaying hand 0 1225099308 0.668625 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.996885

Pick 'em Poker — 99.45%

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 1200 434 0.000003 0.003411
Straight Flush 239.8 3,971 0.000026 0.006237
Four of a kind 120 64,676 0.000424 0.050830
Full House 18 359,784 0.002356 0.042414
Flush 15 486,905 0.003189 0.047833
Straight 10 773,451 0.005066 0.050655
Three of a kind 5 4,582,904 0.030015 0.150073
Two pair 3 9,480,096 0.062088 0.186263
Nines of better 2 34,870,342 0.228375 0.456750
Nonpaying hand 0 102,066,337 0.668459 0.000000
Total 152,688,900 1.000000 0.994466

The following pay table can be found at Internet casinos using Playtech software.

Pick 'em Poker — Playtech Pay Table

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal flush 1000 434 0.000003 0.002842
Straight flush 200 3,971 0.000026 0.005201
Four of a kind 100 64,676 0.000424 0.042358
Full house 18 359,784 0.002356 0.042414
Flush 15 486,905 0.003189 0.047833
Straight 11 773,451 0.005066 0.055721
Three of a kind 5 4,582,904 0.030015 0.150073
Two pair 3 9,480,096 0.062088 0.186263
Nines or better 2 34,870,342 0.228375 0.456750
Nothing 0 102,066,337 0.668459 0.000000
Total 152,688,900 1.000000 0.989456

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 200 47652 0.000026 0.005201
Four of a kind 100 775680 0.000423 0.042334
Full House 18 4313520 0.002354 0.042376
Flush 15 5861868 0.003199 0.047989
Straight 10 9287892 0.005069 0.050691
Three of a kind 5 54960720 0.029996 0.14998
Two pair 3 113687280 0.062047 0.186142
Nines of better 2 418227240 0.228257 0.456513
Nonpaying hand 0 1225099308 0.668625 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.987383

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 1200 5208 0.000003 0.003411
Straight Flush 239.8 47652 0.000026 0.006237
Four of a kind 120 776112 0.000424 0.05083
Full House 15 4317408 0.002356 0.035345
Flush 15 5842860 0.003189 0.047833
Straight 10 9281412 0.005066 0.050655
Three of a kind 5 54994848 0.030015 0.150073
Two pair 3 113761152 0.062088 0.186263
Nines of better 2 418444104 0.228375 0.45675
Nonpaying hand 0 1224796044 0.668459 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.987397

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 50 44632 0.000024 0.001218
Four of a kind 100 776904 0.000424 0.042401
Full House 18 4324536 0.00236 0.042484
Flush 15 5809808 0.003171 0.047562
Straight 10 9242592 0.005044 0.050443
Three of a kind 5 55057416 0.030049 0.150244
Two pair 3 113896584 0.062162 0.186485
Nines of better 2 418248384 0.228268 0.456537
Nonpaying hand 0 1224860304 0.668495 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.983531

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 50 46504 0.000025 0.001269
Four of a kind 120 775680 0.000423 0.050801
Full House 18 4313520 0.002354 0.042376
Flush 15 5863016 0.0032 0.047998
Straight 11 9270672 0.00506 0.055656
Three of a kind 4 54960720 0.029996 0.119984
Two pair 3 113687280 0.062047 0.186142
Nines of better 2 418358112 0.228328 0.456656
Nonpaying hand 0 1224985656 0.668563 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.967039

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 239.8 48300 0.000026 0.006321
Four of a kind 120 775032 0.000423 0.050759
Full House 18 4307688 0.002351 0.042318
Flush 15 5890380 0.003215 0.048222
Straight 10 9297612 0.005074 0.050744
Three of a kind 4 54909528 0.029968 0.119872
Two pair 3 113576472 0.061987 0.185961
Nines of better 2 418250568 0.228269 0.456539
Nonpaying hand 0 1225205580 0.668683 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.966893

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 50 46504 0.000025 0.001269
Four of a kind 120 775680 0.000423 0.050801
Full House 18 4313520 0.002354 0.042376
Flush 15 5863016 0.0032 0.047998
Straight 10 9270672 0.00506 0.050597
Three of a kind 4 54960720 0.029996 0.119984
Two pair 3 113687280 0.062047 0.186142
Nines of better 2 418358112 0.228328 0.456656
Nonpaying hand 0 1224985656 0.668563 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.961979

Pick 'em Poker

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 200 47652 0.000026 0.005201
Four of a kind 100 775680 0.000423 0.042334
Full House 18 4313520 0.002354 0.042376
Flush 15 5861868 0.003199 0.047989
Straight 10 9287892 0.005069 0.050691
Three of a kind 4 54960720 0.029996 0.119984
Two pair 3 113687280 0.062047 0.186142
Nines of better 2 418227240 0.228257 0.456513
Nonpaying hand 0 1225099308 0.668625 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.957387

Pick 'em Poker - Deuces Wild

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural royal 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Four deuces plus ace 800 5604 0.000003 0.002447
Four deuces 400 55308 0.00003 0.012074
Wild royal 100 619800 0.000338 0.033827
Five of a kind 50 793008 0.000433 0.02164
Straight flush 20 2466096 0.001346 0.026919
Four of a kind 9 34169592 0.018649 0.167839
Full house 6 13155048 0.00718 0.043078
Flush 4 15237456 0.008316 0.033265
Straight 3 59639496 0.03255 0.097649
Three of a kind 2 316354356 0.172657 0.345315
Two pair 2 79966440 0.043643 0.087287
Pair of aces 1 179762568 0.098109 0.098109
Nothing 0 1130036388 0.616742 0
Total 1832266800 1 0.975605

Pick 'em Poker - Double Double Bonus

Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Royal Flush 2000 5640 0.000003 0.006156
Straight Flush 200 47052 0.000026 0.005136
Four A + 2-4 800 16524 0.000009 0.007215
Four 2-4 + A-4 400 48684 0.000027 0.010628
Four A 400 44244 0.000024 0.009659
Four 2-4 200 130812 0.000071 0.014279
Four 5-K 100 538248 0.000294 0.029376
Full House 18 4339008 0.002368 0.042626
Flush 15 5748528 0.003137 0.047061
Straight 11 9581868 0.00523 0.057525
Three of a kind 6 55184448 0.030118 0.180709
Two pair 3 114171552 0.062312 0.186935
Pair: J-A 2 281784408 0.15379 0.30758
Pair: 9-10 1 133447728 0.072832 0.072832
Nonpaying hand 0 1227178056 0.669759 0
1832266800 1 0.977716

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Basic Video Poker Info

• My main Video Poker page
• Return tables:
• Probability of Ruin for single-play video poker
• Random simulations of multi-play video poker
• The standard deviation of n-play video poker

Video Poker Calculator

• Analyze the return for almost any video poker paytable

Strategies

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Written by: Michael Shackleford

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