In our previous sections we’ve talked primarily about Jacks or Better strategy and tactics. It’s a good starting place for new video poker players—it’s the most popular video poker game, the oldest and most ‘familiar’ game and the easiest on which to assimilate proper strategy. Now we’ll start with the major video poker variations beginning with Deuces Wild. Full Pay Deuces Wild returns 100.8% with perfect play and at the risk of over generalization is likely the ‘sharp’ video poker player’s favorite game. We’ll begin the discussion with full pay deuces though there are at least a dozen Deuces Wild (DW) variants. Outside of the hyper competitive Las Vegas video poker market you might not be able to find the full pay games. For that reason, we’ll cover a number of alternate Deuces Wild strategies.

The first question I often get when talking about Full Pay Deuces Wild: “How can the casino afford to offer a machine that pays out more than it takes in?” The operative term in my original statement is that with perfect play Full Pay DW pays 100.8%. Perfect play on a deuces wild machine is very counterintuitive and particularly for anyone used to playing Jacks or Better. For that reason, most recreational players utilize a dubious strategy that gives the house a sizable edge on this game.

Deuces Wild video poker is played with a 52 card card deck and generally resembles a JoB machine at first glance with one big exception—all four deuces are wild cards. The winning hands are also different—in Deuces Wild a high pair or two pairs are losers. Here’s the Full Pay Deuces Wild pay table:




The hand rank is pretty much the same as a Jacks or Better machine—not surprising since they were both derived from actual poker hands. As noted above, two hands that are winners in Jacks or Better are losing hands on a deuces wild machine—a pair of jacks or better (high pair) and two pairs. Another difference is the payout level for various hands. On a JoB machine a three of a kind returns 15 coins with a max bet. On a DW machine, it returns 5 coins. Four of a kind is a 125 coin winner with a max bet on JoB but on a DW machine it returns 25 coins. Obviously these hands are significantly easier to make with four ‘wild cards’ in the deck and as a result the payout is less.

Typically, it doesn’t matter if a hand is made with or without wild cards. So on a DW machine you’ll be paid the same for a four of a kind made like this:


as one made like this:

A 2W 2W A X

or one made like this:

A 2W 2W 2W X

There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is ‘four deuces’ which pays a ‘mini jackpot’ of 1000 coins ($250 on a .25 cent machine, $1000 on a $1 machine). These are very nice bankroll builders and an important part of Deuces Wild strategy—we’ll discuss this down the road.

The other exception is the royal flush. A royal flush made WITH one or more deuces pays 125 coins with a max bet. A royal flush made WITHOUT deuces pays the jackpot of 4000 coins with a max bet. ($1000 on a .25 machine, $4000 on a $1 machine).

There is also a hand that it is impossible to get on a ‘Jacks or Better’ machine since it can only be made with a wild card (or few). The ‘Five of a Kind’ pays 75 coins for a max bet. As is the case with other hands, it doesn’t matter how many wild cards are involved. In other words, a five of a kind make like this:

J J J J 2W

is the same as one made like this

J 2W 2W J J

One of the biggest challenges in Deuces Wild video poker is staying mindful of the various hands facilitated by wild cards. For example, you might be dealt this hand:

K 2W 2W 2W X

You’ve been dealt a four of a kind but the last thing you want to do is just hold the King and three deuces. You’ve also been dealt four to a royal flush (with deuces). Once again, holding those four cards are the wrong play. The correct play for this hand is to hold the three deuces, discard the other two (including the King) and go for the four deuces mini jackpot. It usually takes new players a while to realize that it’s OK to break up this 4 of a kind because three wild cards plus any other card is also a four of a kind. These type of conundrums and decisions of what winning hands to break up win make up the majority of Deuces Wild strategy. If, on the other hand, you’re dealt a pat royal flush with three deuces:

K 2W 2W J 2W

The correct play is to hold all five cards and bank the 125 coin payout.