Approaching Difficult Bonus Poker HandsBy: Joan Peppin, Saturday December 27th 2014
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When it comes to video poker games, everyone pretty much agrees that the vast majority of non-wild games are effectively based around paytable changes to Jacks or Better. Bonus Poker is one of those games, and it works by taking value away from the flushes and adding it to different four of a kind combinations. As a result, you run the value of flush draws down and the value of certain single pair hands up which can lead to some pretty difficult hands. We're going to look at some of those hands here.
Here's a good hand to start with. Suppose we have KsJsTs4s4d. In this situation, a lot of people are going to want to go with the flush draw because they are taught that flush draws are better than low pairs from their study of Jacks or Better. That much is correct in this hand because even though the value of flushes has dropped a little, it's still better to keep the flush draw over the low pair, and this is an important lesson to know for this game. However, it's not the only lesson to draw from this particular hand.
If you go with the four-card flush draw, you're actually making a mistake in this hand. Even though it's better than going with the small pair, it's not as good as going with three to a royal flush. Three to a royal is a fairly strong hand that's stronger than low pairs or four-card flush draws, and that means they're also stronger than four cards to an open-ended straight draw. This is an important distinction, and it will help you to make the right play in a lot of difficult hands where it's easy to make the wrong play because you have so many seemingly good options.
So a similar hand would be Js6s5s4s2h in a way since you have a number of options to choose from. A lot of people are going to realize that the choice is between the four-card flush draw and the three-card straight flush draw. While this is correct, it misses a bit of the point: Three cards to a straight flush are not very strong at all without the high card power to make pairs that comes with three-card royal draws, and that's why they're so powerful. So in this instance, keeping the four-card flush is much better than keeping three to a straight flush no matter the order.
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