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Optimum Strategy For Deuces Wild Video Poker

By: Adam Baker, Monday July 13th 2009
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Deuces Wild is a variant of video poker in which deuces act as wild cards and substitute for any other card in order to make a paying poker hand. Because the presence of a wild card offers an advantage to the player, the pay table is modified slightly. The payouts begin with three of a kind hand. Also three hand rankings have been introduced between straight flush and natural royal flush. Just above straight flush is five of a kind. Above that is wild royal flush, which is royal flush made with the help of a deuce. Just below natural royal flush is a hand that has four deuces.

Optimum Deuces Wild strategy instructs the player which are the cards that he must hold in a given situation so as to maximize his expected payout. This strategy is best understood when classified according to the number of deuces dealt in the initial hand. Since Deuces Wild is played with a single deck the player cannot be dealt five deuces. If the player is dealt four deuces he is assured of payout of 200 to 1. Therefore with four deuces dealt the player must hold on to the deuces and the fifth card becomes irrelevant.

When dealt three deuces the optimum strategy is to hold all the cards provided they make a royal flush or five of a kind with cards ranked at ten or higher. Otherwise the player should hold the card which is ranked at 10 or higher and replace all other cards in the hope of getting a wild royal flush.

When dealt two deuces in the initial hand, the player must check if he has a hand ranking of four of a kind or higher. He must then hold those cards. Optimum strategy dictates that he must then hold cards that make up four cards to a royal flush. After that the player should aim to hold cards that make a straight flush with the lowest card being a six. Lower straight flushes necessarily use the deuce as a deuce and therefore reduce its value as a wild card. If none of the above is possible then the player must hold the two deuces and replace the remaining three cards.

With only one deuce in the dealt hand the optimum strategy becomes a little complicated. Players must hold paying hands of four of a kind and higher. However they should, if need be, break lower paying hands in order to try for a wild royal flush. If neither of the above two situations is prevalent then the player must hold a full house if it is dealt. In the next stage the player must try for following hands in decreasing order of importance: four cards to a straight flush with the lowest card being five; dealt three of a kind, straight or flush; four cards to a lower straight flush; three cards to a royal flush and three cards to a straight flush with the lowest card being a six. If none of the above is possible then the player must hold the deuce and replace the other cards. With no deuces the optimum strategy is very similar to that with one deuce.

The optimum strategy plays a very important role in Deuces Wild because the average payout ratio with optimum strategy is just over 100% if the player wagers with five coins. This is because with five coins natural royal flush pays at 800 to 1 instead of 250 to 1 when fewer coins are wagered. Hence with optimum strategy a player is reasonably assured of not losing money in the long run.

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