In the previous section, we gave an introduction to the Deuces Wild video poker variation and explained pay tables and hand rankings. Now we’ll start to address the strategy to play Deuces Wild (DW) games successfully. Obviously, having a good theoretical grasp of strategy is important on any video poker game but it’s crucial on Deuces Wild. A beginner can ‘fake‘ their way through a Jacks or Better game to some extent since most of the strategy is intuitive and quickly assimilated. Not so with Deuces Wild—in fact, much of the correct strategy for the game is counterintuitive and involves throwing away all five cards and breaking up ‘pat’ winning hands to go for a higher paying draw.

The other important thing to remember is that the strategy outlined below is for full pay Deuces Wild. Keep in mind, however, that there are around a dozen variations on DW currently in operation at casinos online and around the world. In some cases, there will be modifications from the ‘basic‘ full pay strategy. Technically speaking, you want to use the right strategy set for every variation and pay table.  Technically, you’ll want to use a specific strategy for each paytable. Some of these strategy differences will be very subtle but if you want to get serious you need to make the proper adjustments for every variable you encounter. Since our goal is to start simple and offer more advanced information for those who want it, the full pay Deuces Wild strategy is the right place to start.


There are some general concepts you want to keep in mind as you work toward perfect play on Deuces Wild video poker machines. This list is based on mistakes I’ve seen novices make over and over again during my years as a serious casino gambler. To be honest, it never ceases to amaze me how far off base most beginners are in terms of Deuces Wild strategy until they get some instruction. If you ever wonder how a casino can offer more than 100% payback for ‘perfect play‘ this should answer your questions. Just spend a few hours in a casino observing Deuces Wild ‘newbies‘ and you’ll understand just how elusive perfect play can be.


This is a very hard thing for beginning Deuces Wild players to get used to. In Jacks or Better strategy, the general idea is to try to salvage at least something from every deal. With a payoff for ‘Jacks or Better‘ holding, just one high card or a low pair makes sense. Deuces Wild is completely different. The four wild cards in play mean that unless you have the beginnings of a fairly big hand (eg: royal flush or straight flush) or 4 cards to a flush or straight draw (the wild cards make inside straight draws playable) your best option is to throw away the entire hand and get five new cards. You won’t be throwing away hands as often as a competent Texas Hold’em player but on balance you’ll be discarding all five cards at least once every half dozen or so hands. That’s not a hard and fast number of ‘total discards’ but if you’re playing too many hands you’re likely not applying the strategy correctly and costing yourself in the long run.

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Another difficult strategic concept for those who have knowledge of Jacks or Better poker is the relative worthlessness of the two pairs hand in Deuces Wild. It’s not a bad starting hand in Jacks or Better. Worst case scenario, it returns 10 coins with a max bet so you’ve at least made a profit. You’ve got four cards in the deck that can complete a full house so there’s a decent possibility of a 45 coin (or thereabouts) payout with a max bet. In JoB strategy holding a two pair is a no-brainer.

Once again, Deuces Wild is a completely different animal. The correct play is to hold one of the two pairs and discard the other three cards. Under no circumstances should you hold two pairs and discard only one card. Like we’ve said repeatedly, much of Deuces Wild strategy is counterintuitive and this is a perfect example. It’s hard for newcomers to Deuces Wild video poker to wrap their head around the concept of throwing out a higher ranking ‘pat‘ hand and holding a lower hand but that’s the way to play it.

Remember that two pair is a losing hand in Deuces Wild so you’re in a situation where the only winning draw is to a full house. You do have eight cards to the full house instead of four with the four deuces but it’s still not a good play. By holding one pair you have many more ‘outs‘ to draw to a winning hand. Three of a kind, four of a kind and five of a kind are still in play and two of the three pay more than the full house. The full house is a low paying hand in DW (15 coins with max bet) so there’s no reason to limit your options by holding two pairs and hoping you’ll get it.


In the above example, we talked about a winning hand in JoB that’s a throwaway in Deuces Wild. We’ll now talk about the opposite—the addition of the four wild cards means that a number of hands that you’d never hold under JoB strategy are now playable.

For example, there are circumstances where holding three to a royal flush is the correct play. If your hand doesn’t contain a deuce you’ll even want to break up a pair or 4 to a flush to go after the royal flush. On a Jacks or Better machine drawing to an inside straight is the wrong play. On a Deuces Wild machine, it’s a correct play under most strategies. In fact, if you’re not holding any deuces there are situations where holding two to the royal flush is the correct play. It’s actually the lowest ranking hand before you discard all five but on a JoB machine, you’d never hold two to a royal under any circumstances.


While games may share some commonality—particularly within a specific variation type (JoB, DW, JW) it’s important to remember that in theory every game should be approached with a dedicated strategy. To be sure, you’ll do better playing an ‘Illinois Deuces‘ variation (we’ll learn about that in the next section) with the Full Pay strategy than you would just ‘winging it‘. Even so, there are tactics and subtle strategy changes that give you an even better chance of turning a profit.