‘JOKERS WILD’ VIDEO POKER VARIATIONS

In the previous two sections, we introduced the game of Jokers Wild Video Poker (JW) and outlined the proper strategy for ‘full pay’ versions of the game. Unfortunately, ‘full pay’ JW games are getting more and more difficult to find. Some of this has to do with the strange ‘niche‘ popularity of the game. It’s not really a favorite of either ‘sharp’ video poker players or ‘recreational‘ players. Without a strong and/or well-educated user base casinos think they can cut corners on payouts—and more often than not they’re right.

Full pay Jokers Wild offers a good ‘return on investment’ but what about the other variations? Two of the most significant don’t just alter the amounts paid for winning hands but change the ‘minimum‘ winning hand for the entire game.

ACES OR BETTER RETURN AND STRATEGY

These can be found among other places at CG Gaming (formerly Cantor Gaming) sportsbooks. Perhaps the thinking is that sports and horse bettors are something of a ‘captive audience’ who will mindlessly play a game that offers them a less advantageous return.

A pair of Kings is a loser, a Pair of Aces a winner. The only other change is the payback on the full house bumped up to 9/18/27/35/42. That’s not particularly significant since players will get more Flushes and 4 of a Kind which remains the same. The hit in return is significant—an Aces or Better machine with the pay table outlined as above will return just 98.42%. You’ll also find Aces or Better Jokers Wild Machines that pay 8/16/24/32/40 for a full house. This machine offers an even more pitiful return of 96.87%.

The best strategy for an ‘Aces or Better‘ Joker Poker machine is to not play it and go somewhere else. If you have no other option, the strategy adjustment is pretty easy—just substitute ‘Aces or Better‘ on your hand hierarchies.

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TWO PAIR OR BETTER JOKERS WILD PAY TABLE

Some Jokers Wild games require a two pair of better as the minimum winning hand. Since both the high pair (Aces or Better, Kings or Better) and the two pair have the same payout it’s not a huge jump from one to the other. There are a variety of pay tables for Two Pair JW games and they run the gamut.

The best paytable has some interesting, if somewhat top heavy, payouts. Five of a Kind pays the same as a natural royal flush, payout on a straight flush and 4 of a kind have been doubled but everything else is the same or slightly less than you’d expect. Still, this pay table returns 98.59% and at least gives the player another jackpot and some fun ‘mini-jackpots‘ to shoot for.

At the other end there are pay tables where you don’t even need to do the math to figure out that the player is getting screwed, starting with the elimination of the distinction between a Royal Flush with and without jokers. This monstrosity of a pay table returns a mere 92.66%.

The moral of the story is that the rule changes in terms of hand valuation aren’t as important as the pay table. You can find Kings or Better JW games with a lower payback percentage than Two Pair or better games.