We’ve finished our coverage of all of the ‘Bonus Poker’ genre of games (for now at least—manufacturers are always coming up with new ones) but that doesn’t mean we’re done with the concept of video poker games with bonuses. This will be the first of a series of intros to what I call ‘Bonus 2.0 games‘. The commonality of the ‘Bonus 2.0’ games is that the player has to pay an additional bet amount to ‘activate‘ the bonus feature. Depending on the game, this can range from an extra coin (making a ‘max bet‘ six coins) to a full additional bet per hand (making ‘max bet‘ 10 coins per hand). While some of the ‘Bonus 2.0‘ games have rules that materially impact gameplay and strategy (for example, the 6 card poker variations) many just offer another layer of bonus without altering the strategy. The game we’ll discuss today is an example of this.

‘Ultimate Aces’ is usually found in a multi-game format that includes a variety of common rulesets. In Nevada casinos (and other land-based casinos) the game usually includes Jacks or Better, several ‘bonus poker‘ variations such as Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker along with a couple of Deuces Wild variations. We’ll cover each of the games individually since they each have a unique paytable and in some cases their own dedicated strategy decisions.

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The ‘Ultimate Aces’ rules are the same regardless of which variation of the game you’re playing. The basic premise is that for an additional bet per hand the player gets a bonus on any hand with a dealt Ace. Since the game is typically found in ‘triple play‘ form this means that max bet is 15 coins for three hands (5 X 3) plus 15 ‘bonus bet‘ for three hands (5 X 3) equaling 30 coins per play.

Any time an Ace shows up on the first deal the player automatically gets a bonus on all winning hands. Note that you do not have to hold the Ace to get the bonus. The bonuses are random but the more Aces in a hand the higher the bonus amount. The bonus amount ranges from 2X to 10X. According to game manufacturer IGT the average bonus multipliers are as follows:

  • 1 Ace: 3.4X
  • 2 Aces: 4.5X
  • 3 Aces: 6.0X
  • 4 Aces: 7.6X

The Deuces Wild variation offers a payback of 97.82% with max coins bet.



Since the bonus is activated on the draw no strategy adjustment is necessary. Deuces Wild strategy decisions are determined not only by the hand you’re dealt but also by how many deuces you’re holding. The chart below will show the ranking of hands to hold in descending order. If a particular hand isn’t on the list discard everything and draw five cards.


Hold all four Deuces and collect the 1000 coin (with max bet) ‘mini jackpot‘.


Hold the three deuces and draw two cards. The ONLY exception is if you’ve been dealt a pat Royal Flush. In that case, hold all five and collect the 125 coins.


Hold any ‘pat‘ Four of a Kind, Five of a Kind, Straight Flush or Royal Flush.

If you don’t have a pat hand hold the two deuces and draw three cards with the following exceptions:

  • Four to a Royal Flush
  • Four to a Straight Flush

These three exceptions notwithstanding, hold the two deuces and draw three.


With one deuce and no deuces, the strategy gets a bit more complex. Not many situations to remember with four, three and two deuces but it’s important that you memorize the following decision hierarchies. Here are the hold strategies for a hand with a single deuce:

  • Dealt 4 of a kind, 5 of a kind, Straight Flush or Royal Flush
  • Four to a Royal Flush
  • Full House
  • Four to a Straight Flush
  • Dealt Three of a Kind, Straight or Flush
  • Three to a Royal Flush
  • Three to a Straight Flush ONLY if you have two consecutive cards six or higher. So:
    • 2W 7 8 X X would be a playable hand and you should draw two to the straight flush.
    • 2W 4 5 X X would not be playable. You should hold the deuce and draw four cards.
  • Any other hand not listed above is unplayable. Hold the deuce and draw four.


  • Dealt Royal Flush
  • Four to a Royal Flush2
  • Dealt Three of a Kind, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush
  • Four to a Straight Flush
  • Three to a Royal Flush
  • Any Pair
  • Four to a Flush
  • Four to an Outside Straight
  • Three to a Straight Flush
  • Four to an Inside Straight
  • Two to a Royal Flush J-Q high. In other words, 10-J, 10-Q, J-Q
  • Discard all five cards and draw a new hand

The important thing to remember about playing a hand with no deuces. Don’t even THINK of playing it the same way you would a Jacks or Better hand. If you don’t have anything to work with you’re much better off drawing a new hand—knowing that four deuces remain in the deck—than trying to draw with only one or two outs to complete a low paying hand.


Bonus games are fun but they are seldom a ‘good bet from a return percentage standpoint. That’s why casinos love them so much and manufacturers keep making them—it’s easy to make the player think he’s getting a lot of extra payouts through the bonus but when you do the math the game proves to be a big money burner. There are exceptions, but in general terms the more ‘out of the box‘ the bonus format the less likely the game is to offer a ‘player friendly‘ return percentage.