How to Get Started With Deuces Wild Video Poker

By in Video Poker on
4 Minute Read
Deuces Wild

In this post, we’re going to cover how to get started playing Deuces Wild video poker. We’ll breakdown the basics, common pay tables, tips for winning real money, and more! Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about Deuces Wild.

Deuces Wild Is More Complicated than Jacks or Better

Deuces Wild is an example of the 2nd type of video poker game in our broad categorizations (non-wild card games and wild card games).

The strategy for Deuces Wild is more complicated than the strategy for Jacks or Better in multiple ways. For one thing, it’s harder to distinguish between paytables.

For another thing, the playing strategy changes dramatically because of the 4 wild cards in the deck.

But Deuces Wild can offer you something you can’t expect from Jacks or Better:

A positive expectation.

If you choose the right paytable and play with the appropriate strategy, you can achieve an edge over the casino with full pay Deuces Wild.

And, even I you can’t find full pay Deuces Wild, you can get close to a break-even game with “not so ugly” Deuces Wild.

Most of the rest of this post explains the differences between these two.

Common Deuces Wild Video Poker Pay Tables

Here are 2 examples of a Deuces Wild video poker tables, compared and contrasted:

Hand Version 1 Version 2
Natural royal flush 800 800
Four Deuces 200 200
Wild royal flush 25 25
Five of a kind 15 17
Straight flush 9 13
Four of a kind 5 4
Full house 3 3
Flush 2 2
Straight 2 2
Three of a kind 1 1

It looks like version 2 is the game to go with, at least at first glance, right?

After all, you get 4 extra coins for a straight flush than you would on version 1, and all you’re giving up in exchange for that is a single coin payout on the 4 of a kind.

You’re also getting a couple of extra coins on the 5 of a kind.

But looks can be deceiving.

Version 1 is a “full pay” Deuces Wild video poker paytable. The payback percentage, if you play every hand optimally, is 100.76% on such a paytable.

Version 2 isn’t even close – it’s not even the so-called “not so ugly” version. The payback percentage for that paytable – even with perfect strategy – is only 97.08%.


What causes such a huge discrepancy?

It’s that single coin difference in payouts on the 4 of a kind.

If you’re not used to playing video poker with wild cards, you’ll think that a 4 of a kind is a really rare hand.

But in Deuces Wild, where you have 4 wild cards in the deck, you’ll wind up with 4 of a kind over 6% of the time – that’s once in every 15 hands or so.
In terms of expected return, the 5-coin payout accounts for almost 1/3 of the game’s payback.

The payout for version 2 reduces that amount to 1/4 of the game’s payback.
A straight flush and a 5 of a kind come up so much less often that the increased payout just doesn’t make that much of a difference.

Not So Ugly Deuces Wild Pay Tables

Here’s a much more common Deuces Wild paytable that still offers an excellent expected return:

Hand NSUD Payout
Natural royal flush 800
Four deuces 200
Wild royal flush 25
Five of a kind 16
Straight flush 10
Four of a kind 4
Full house 4
Flush 3
Straight 2
Three of a kind 1

You’ll notice lots of small differences in payouts – this is another reason that Deuces Wild is so much more complicated than Jacks or Better.

You get a single coin more on the 5 of a kind, but we’ve already talked about how that’s not such a big deal.

You also get another coin on the straight flush, but again, this isn’t such a big deal.

And that reduction to a 4-coin payout on a 4 of a kind is still a big deal.

But the increased payouts on some of the lower ranked hands are critical.

Increasing the payout from 3 to 4 for a full house is a big deal.

And increasing the payout from 2 to 3 for a flush is also a big deal.

When all is said and done, the expected return for not so ugly Deuces Wild (also often called NSUD) is 99.73%, which is about as close to a break-even game as you could ask for. In fact, if you factor in the comps and rebates from the slots club, you might still even have a positive return for this game.

How Do You Get this Expected Return for these Deuces Wild Games?

The payback percentage for any gambling machine is the total of the expected value of each outcome.

Expected value is just the product of the probability of getting a result multiplied by the amount you’ll win.

Here’s how that looks in full pay Deuces Wild:

The most likely result on any random hand is nothing, which happens about 54.7% of the time. Since that has a payout of $0, you’d multiply 54.7% by $0 to get the expected value – 0.

You’ll wind up with 3 of a kind often, too – 28.5% of the time. Since that pays out at even money, you multiply that 1 by 28.5% to get 28.5%.

Poker Hand

A straight is far rarer – 5.6% of the time. But it pays off at 2 for 1, so you multiply 5.6% by 2 to get 11.2.

A flush is even rarer than a straight – you only see a flush once out of every 60 hands. That’s 1.7% of the time, and since it pays off at 2 for 1, the expected value for that payout is 2 multiplied by 1.7%. or 3.4%.

A full house – in Deuces Wild – actually turns up slightly more often than a flush – 2.1% of the time.

And the payoff is more – 3 for 1.

3 multiplied by 2.1% is 6.3%,.

Now, though, you get to see the power of the 4 of a kind. That hand comes up 6.5% of the time, and it pays off at 5 for 1.

6.5% multiplied by 5 is 32.5%.

All the other hands – straight flush, 5 of a kind, wild royal flush, and 4 deuces – come up between 0.02% and 0.42% of the time, respectively. The only exception is the natural royal flush, which only turns up once in every 45,000 hands or so.

It’s 10 times less likely to come up than 4 deuces, but the payoff is 4 times greater, too.

When you add all these expectations together, you get the overall expectation for the game – in this case, 100.76%.

Deuces Wild Video Poker Strategy Tips

Here are some tips for how to get closer to the optimal strategy for playing each hand in Deuces Wild video poker. This won’t get you to the top payback percentage, but it will get you closer to that then just trying to guess which cards to hold and which cards to throw away.

  1. You’ll never hold on to a single card – unless it’s a deuce. In other video poker variations, you’ll sometimes hold onto a high card, like a jack or higher. You never do that in Deuces Wild because it doesn’t help you.
  2. You’ll always hold onto any deuces you have. No matter what the pay table looks like, you’ll never discard a deuce when playing Deuces Wild. Some novices might think it’s okay to discard a deuce to try to hit the natural royal flush. That’s a mistake. Don’t do it.
  3. If you have one deuce, you’ll never hold just one card with it. Again, there’s really no benefit to having a high card along with a single deuce. High cards just don’t matter much in Deuces Wild.
  4. You should always keep a pair if your alternative is a 4-card flush or straight.
  5. You should also NEVER hold 2 pair. Just discard either pair – doesn’t matter which one, since high cards don’t matter. Focus hard on the 4 of a kind. If you stay focused on those 4 of a kind hands, you’ll have a hard time making bad decisions in Deuces Wild.


Deuces Wild is a great game because it offers 4 wild cards on every hand, but this changes your strategy dramatically.

But it also has some versions with some of the highest expected returns in the casino. Even if you can’t find full pay Deuces Wild, you can sometimes find NSUD, or not-so-ugly Deuces.

Either way, it’s well worth learning how to play.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]