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Last Updated: August 15, 2016

# Effect of Strategy Mismatches in Video Poker

## Introduction

This has probably happened to many video poker players: you know one or two strategies but are in a situation where those games aren't available and you want to play another game. For example, you know 9-6 Jacks or Better strategy but the best game available is 9-6 Double Double Bonus. What will be the cost in errors due to the strategy mismatch?

## Expected Values

The tables below show the return by optimal strategy for that game as well as for the optimal strategy for six well-known video poker games:

• 9-6 Jacks or Better
• 8-5 Bonus Poker
• 10-7 Double Bonus
• 9-6 Double Double Bonus
• Full pay Deuces Wild (25-15-9-5-3)
• Not so Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild (25-16-10-4-4)

There are some plays where the player is indifferent in one game but not in another. In some common sense situations, I assume the player will make some obvious adjustments, as follows:

• If a player is playing a Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, or Double Bonus strategy on a Double Double Bonus game, and is dealt four of a kind, then he will keep a good kicker (A to 4) and discard a bad kicker (5 to K). In Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, or Double Bonus, the player would normally be indifferent to holding the kicker.
• If a player is playing either of the Deuces Wild strategies on a Double Bonus Deuces Wild game, and is dealt four deuces, then he will keep a good kicker (ace) and discard a bad kicker (3 to K). In regular deuces wild, the player would normally be indifferent to holding the kicker.
• If a player is playing the full pay deuces wild strategy on a Double Bonus Deuces Wild or Deuces Wild Bonus Poker game, and is dealt a two pair (where the strategy calls for holding just one of them), then he will favor holding aces first, followed by a 3-5, and finally 6-K. In full pay deuces wild, the player would normally be indifferent to holding either pair.

### Expected Returns — Nothing Wild

Game Optimal 9-6
Jacks
8-5
Bonus
Poker
10-7
Double
Bonus
9-6
Double
Double
Bonus
9/6 Jacks 99.54% 99.54% 99.54% 98.94% 98.51%
9/5 Jacks 98.45% 98.44% 98.45% 97.44% 97.38%
8/6 Jacks 98.39% 98.39% 98.39% 97.82% 97.43%
8/5 Bonus Poker 99.17% 99.16% 99.17% 98.20% 98.37%
7/5 Bonus Poker 98.07% 98.01% 98.01% 97.08% 97.29%
10/6 Double Double Bonus 100.07% 99.76% 99.76% 99.57% 100.07%
9/6 Double Double Bonus 98.98% 98.61% 98.61% 98.45% 98.98%
9/5 Double Double Bonus 97.87% 97.51% 97.52% 96.96% 97.84%
8/5 Double Double Bonus 96.79% 96.36% 96.37% 95.84% 96.76%
10/7/5 Double Bonus 100.17% 99.63% 99.61% 100.17% 99.86%
9/7/5 Double Bonus 99.11% 98.48% 98.46% 99.05% 98.77%
9/6/5 Double Bonus 97.81% 97.38% 97.37% 97.56% 97.63%
9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe 99.64% 99.61% 99.60% 99.29% 99.37%
9/7 Triple Double Bonus 99.58% 97.71% 97.69% 98.24% 98.49%
9/5 White Hot Aces 99.57% 99.16% 99.16% 98.59% 99.54%

The next table is for deuces wild games.

### Expected Returns — Deuces Wild

Game Optimal Full Pay NSUD
Deuces Wild 25-15-9-5-3 100.76% 100.76% 99.73%
Deuces Wild 25-16-10-4-4 99.73% 98.80% 99.73%
Deuces Wild 25-15-9-4-4 98.91% 98.06% 98.90%
Deuces Wild 20-12-10-4-4 97.58% 96.62% 97.53%
Deuces Wild 25-16-13-4-3 96.77% 96.25% 96.58%
Deuces Wild Bonus Poker 9-4-4 99.45% 97.66% 98.18%
Deuces Wild Bonus Poker 13-4-3 98.80% 97.20% 97.62%
Deuces Wild Bonus Poker 10-4-3 97.36% 95.95% 96.08%
Double Bonus Deuces Wild 12-4-3 99.81% 98.10% 97.88%
Double Bonus Deuces Wild 9-4-3 98.61% 96.85% 96.34%

## Cost of Errors

The next table shows the difference in return between optimal strategy and the strategy indicated in the top column.

### Cost of Errors — Nothing Wild

Game 9-6
Jacks
8-5
Bonus
Poker
10-7
Double
Bonus
9-6
Double
Double
Bonus
9/6 JoB 0.00% 0.01% 0.61% 1.03%
9/5 JoB 0.01% 0.00% 1.01% 1.07%
8/6 JoB 0.00% 0.01% 0.57% 0.97%
8/5 BP 0.01% 0.00% 0.96% 0.79%
7/5 BP 0.06% 0.05% 0.99% 0.78%
10/6 DDB 0.30% 0.31% 0.50% 0.00%
9/6 DDB 0.37% 0.37% 0.53% 0.00%
9/5 DDB 0.36% 0.35% 0.92% 0.03%
8/5 DDB 0.43% 0.42% 0.95% 0.03%
10/7/5 DB 0.54% 0.56% 0.00% 0.32%
9/7/5 DB 0.63% 0.65% 0.05% 0.34%
9/6/5 DB 0.43% 0.43% 0.25% 0.17%
9/6 BPD 0.03% 0.04% 0.35% 0.28%
9/7 TDB 1.86% 1.88% 1.34% 1.09%
9/5 WHA 0.41% 0.41% 0.98% 0.03%

What does the table above show, in plain simple English? Here are some conclusions I've made.

• There is generally not a big cost to a pay table mismatch. For example, the cost in mistakes for using 9-6 Jacks strategy on a 9-5 game is 0.01% only. An exception is using 10-7-5 Double Bonus strategy on a 9-6-5 game, where the error cost is 0.25%.
• There is little cost to using Jacks or Better strategy in Bonus Poker or vise versa.
• Bonus Poker Deluxe can be played with Jacks or Better/Bonus Poker strategy with little cost in errors.
• There is a huge cost in playing any of the four strategies covered on Triple Double Bonus. I wouldn't touch that game unless you know the strategy specifically for it.

### Cost of Errors — Deuces Wild

Game Full Pay NSUD
Deuces Wild 25-15-9-5-3 0.00% 1.03%
Deuces Wild 25-16-10-4-4 0.93% 0.00%
Deuces Wild 25-15-9-4-4 0.85% 0.01%
Deuces Wild 20-12-10-4-4 0.96% 0.05%
Deuces Wild 25-16-13-4-3 0.51% 0.18%
Deuces Wild Bonus Poker 9-4-4 1.79% 1.27%
Deuces Wild Bonus Poker 13-4-3 1.60% 1.18%
Deuces Wild Bonus Poker 10-4-3 1.41% 1.29%
Double Bonus Deuces Wild 12-4-3 1.70% 1.92%
Double Bonus Deuces Wild 9-4-3 1.76% 2.27%

Here are some thoughts on the deuces wild table above.

• Do not use the Full Pay and NSUD (not so ugly ducks) strategy on each other.
• The NSUD strategy is going to result in a lower error cost on more inferior pay tables than the full pay strategy. The full pay strategy should only be used on a full pay game (which are hard to find any longer at denominations over 25¢).
• Deuces Wild Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Deuces Wild should not be played with any strategy for conventional deuces wild.

• — Similar table as the first one here but with other games.
• — Discussion of this topic.

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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

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## Strategies

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Written by: Michael Shackleford

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