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========================================= Thursday, August 30, 2001
Video Poker - Super Aces
Double Bonus Poker is such a popular video poker game that many other
games use it as a base, John Grochowski explains. As in Double Bonus, the payoff on
two pair is dropped to 1-for-1 from the 2-for-1 in basic Jacks or Better. Also as in
Double Bonus, the retum on four of a kind is dramatically increased, with a good-
Super Aces Pay Table
Answer: 1. b. You have to change your mindset a little in
Super Aces. In most Jacks or Better-based games, which include all the Double Bonus
variations, you should hold a four-ard straight flush instead ofa high pair. That even
includes Double Double Bonus Poker, where you get the 2,000-coin jackpot a little more
than a fourth of the time you get four Aces. In Super Aces, the Ace quads are worth 2,000
coins for five played every time, and that means a strategy adjustment. Here, the expected
value (EV) of holding the pair of Aces is an average return of 12.03 coins for every five
coins played, while the EV on the four-card straight flush is only 11.06.
Answer: 2. b. Because a flush is worth only 5-for-1 in
Super Aces, you're better off with the three-card royal than taking a one-card shot at the
flush. This maximizes your chances to pair up one of the high cards, and leaves open
straight as well as flush possibilities. Your EV's are 6.65 on the three-card royal and
5.74 on the four-card flush. In 10-7 Double Bonus, with flushes paying 7-for-1, you would
hold the four-card flush instead.
Answer: 3. a. With straights paying only 4-for-1, low
pairs are a better play than four-card straights, even when the straights are open on both
ends. Here, the EV is 3.62 for the pair and 3.40 for the four-card straight. In Double
Bonus, with straights paying 5-for-1, you would make the opposite play.
Answer: 4. b. I've had players tell me they NEVER hit
straight flushes, that they even hit more royals than regular straight flushes. There's
probably a little selective memory at work there, but even so, straight flushes are rare.
They're rarer than they need to be, however, because most average players pass up too many
straight-flush opportunities. Here, holding the three-card inside straight flush, Q-J-9 of
the same suit, is your best play, with an EV of 3.27 that beats the 2.98 on the four-card
inside straight, A-K-Q-J. I refer to that as an inside straight even though the needed
card, the 10, is on one end, because only one denomination of card can complete the
straight. The odds are the same as if the needed card were truly on the inside, as in
5-6-8-9. A straight is only open-ended if cards at either end can complete the hand, as in
Answer: 5. a. This is a problem for Double Bonus experts, who are well versed in the concept of "penalty cards." In 10-7 Double Bonus, you would hold both the Ace and the King. Why? Partly because the 2 of spades is a penalty card: Discarding it takes a card out of play that potentially could be used in either flushes or straights involving the Ace of spades. Since that card is no longer available, it diminishes the value of holding the single Ace just enough that A-K would be the better play in Double Bonus. In Super Aces, the chance of a miracle draw of four Aces forces a strategy change. You'll hit four Aces only 44 times out of every 299,360 you make this play, but the 2,000-coin payoff on those quads shift the EV's enough that you shouldn't worry so much about a penalty card. Hold the Ace, with an EV of 2.48, instead of A-K, with an EV of 2.29.
6. King and Ace of Spades - 7 of Diamonds - 2, 5 of
Answer: 6. c. The cards here are in the same ranks as
they are in No.5, but there's a difference in suits. Here, the Ace and King are of the
same suit, leaving flush and royal flush possibilities, as well as possible straights,
high pairs, two pairs, threes of a kind, full houses and even fours of a kind. That tips
the balance so that A-K, with an EV of 2.79, beats out holding the lone Ace, at 2.47, as
your best play
Answer: 7. d. There are all kinds of possibilities in
this hand, but the strongest is the three-card inside straight flush with two high cards.
Its EV of 2.77 edges out the next best choice, the 2.72 on A-K. Why does the suited A-K
have a slightly lower EV here than in No.6? Because in this case, you'd be throwing
away a Queen and Jack, diminishing your chances of hitting high pairs or straights.
Answer: 8. b. It's a closer call than in 10-7 Double
Bonus, but it's the same play. You should hold K-10 of the same suit when you're not
discarding any flush penalty cards (cards of the same suit as those you're holding). The
EV is 2.13 for K-10, marginally better than the 2.10 on the lone King. If you were
throwing away flush
Answer: 9. a. If you were getting 7-for-1 on flushes, as
in 10-7 Double Bonus, you would embrace double-inside straight flushes such as J-10-7 of
spades. (It's "double inside" because both needed cards are between others in
the hand.) Those hands aren't quite as good in Super Aces, which returns only 5-for-1 for
flushes. In Super Aces, the EV of 2.52 for holding the Ace beats the 2.30 for J-10-7.
Answer: 10. b. When flushes pay only 5-for-1, forget about three-card flushes with no high cards and no straight flush opportunities. A complete redraw gives you an EV of 1.63, which is better than the lowly 1.40 for the three-card flush.
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