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More About Wheel Video Poker

In some sense this will be a short-cut article. I wrote a much longer feature recently for "Strictly Slots" magazine. I'm paid for those articles and so publishing the same information onBob DancerBob Dancer is one of the world's foremost video poker experts.  He is a regular columnist for Casino Player, Strictly Slots, and the Las Vegas Review-Journa land has written an autobiography and a novel about gambling.   He provides advice for tens of thousands of casino enthusiasts looking to play video poker.  Bob's website is  a "free for everybody" site isn't fair. Serious players subscribe to that magazine because I periodically publish information about new games that isn't found anywhere else.

Wheel Poker is a six-coin Triple Play/Five Play game. You get paid based on five coins, except when you get a 4-of-a-kind (quad). When this happens you get to spin the wheel. This wheel looks a bit like one from "Wheel of Fortune," but here the bonuses range from 100 to 2000 coins.

Below are the best Wheel Poker pay schedules. Notice that all Deuces Wild games and variations LOSE EV when you play Wheel Poker. If you must play these games on the machines, play only 5 coins at a time. You won't get to spin the wheel, but your return will be better.

Paytable Description Payback
6th Credit
BONUS POKER - 8/5 99.59%  
BONUS POKER - 7/5 98.73%  
BONUS POKER DELUXE - 8/6 99.55%  
BONUS POKER DELUXE - 8/5 98.66%  
DOUBLE BONUS POKER - 9/7/5 99.52%  
DOUBLE BONUS POKER - 9/6/5 98.54%  
DEUCES WILD POKER - 25/16/10/4/4/3** 99.73% 98.44%
DEUCES WILD POKER - 25/15/9/4/4/3** 98.91% 97.79%
DEUCES WILD BONUS POKER - 9/4/4/3** 99.45% 98.37%
DEUCES WILD BONUS POKER - 13/4/3/3** 98.80% 98.14%
TRIPLE DOUBLE BONUS POKER - 9/7** 99.58% 99.54%
**Max Percent Achieved With 5 Credits Bet

This game greatly increases the variance of the game by concentrating even more value than usual in the relatively-rare 4-of-a-kinds.

In the "Strictly Slots" article I gave playing hints for 8/5 Bonus, which is the loosest Wheel Poker game I've seen, although I certainly haven't done an exhaustive survey. In this article, I'll give some of the major strategy adjustments for 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker. Even if you can't find this particular pay schedule, seeing how the strategy changes while playing this particular game is very useful.

As a quiz, see if you can figure out how to play the following hands. Players who play them all as they do in regular 9/6 DDB will find they make numerous mistakes, as will the players who play them all differently than they would in the base game.

a. Ah Kh Th 4h 3c
b. 2d 2s 5s 7s 9s
c. Jh Js Jd 4c 4s
d. Ah Qs Jc 8h 3s
e. Kd Qd Jd Ks 4c
f. Qh Th 9c 5s 3h
g. 2h 3d 5d 6s 8d
h. Ah Kh 8h Qc Td
i. Kh Js Ts 8d 3c

a. 'AKT4' --- this is the normal 9/6 DDB play, although one that is frequently missed. Since neither of the two major plays ('AKT4' or 'AKT') may become quads, the normal strategy doesn't change.

b. '2579' --- Even though the value of four deuces is increased by the wheel, it's not increased enough to be better than the 4-card flush.

c. JJJ --- You hold NO full houses in this game. This is the major reason for the increase in the variance. If you're dealt JJJ44 and only keep JJJ, you're only going to improve 4.25% of the time. But when you do, the higher return for quads makes it worthwhile.

d. A --- When you're dealt an unsuited AQJ, in regular 9/6 DDB you usually hold QJ and in this game you usually hold the ace by itself. The other two cards in the hand can change this order in both games.

e. KK --- Even though you would hold 'KQJ' in the base game, the 428-coin bonus to quads makes KK the correct play by quite a bit.

f. Q --- Whether you hold the Q or 'QT' is a close play, depending on the other three cards in the hand. In the base game, you NEVER prefer Q over 'QT'.

g. Draw 5 --- This is another hand that jacks up the variance. While nothing happened to the value of straights, the fact that you get some kind of quad one time in 4,459 when you draw five new cards is enough to change the play.

h. AK --- Whether you hold AK or AKQT depends on a flush penalty (here the 8h) in the base game, but the 2-in-16,215 chance of getting the 428-coin bonus is enough to change the play in Wheel Poker.

i. 'JT' --- It's a close decision whether to hold KJ or 'JT'. Since the 428-coin bonus affects these combinations equally, the strategy doesn't change as you go to Wheel Poker. A more interesting hand is Kh Js Ts 9d 3c. We showed in g) that inside straights have relatively less value in this game, so the correct play is questionable. I'll leave this hand to the reader to examine. If you can't (or won't) take the time to adjust Video Poker for Winners or other software to analyze these types of hands, you're never going to be a strong player anyway. There's only so much hand-holding I can do for you.

This list wasn't intended to be exhaustive, but it was intended to illustrate that the strategy changes big time. Since most players won't take the time to learn the strategic adjustments, these games will overhold. This means that good pay schedules will last longer than usual on these games because casinos can still make good money on them. This means that opportunities will arise for players who don't mind working to capture the benefits.
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