Learning About Online Bonus Video Poker

By in Video Poker on
6 Minute Read
Mobile Bonus Poker

Online Bonus video poker satisfies the urge of video poker players who want a little more oomph from their games. You can win a lot more for four of a kind hands that you can by playing Jacks or Better. But you often have to give up something in the way of payback for common hands to compensate.

If you’re one of the many people who has picked up online video poker recently with the extra time you might have on your hands, you might be in the process of checking out the different games available to you. We’ve talked a lot about things like strategy and payback in the past few weeks in these columns to help you out. In this article we’re branching out to talk about a specific grouping of games known as Bonus poker.

When you see the word “Bonus” in the name of an online video poker game, you might be thinking that there is something extra that you have to learn for game play. In actuality, game play is the same as it is for basic Jacks or Better-style online play.

You’re still trying to make the best possible poker hand out of a five-card deal, holding or discarding cards from that deal, and then drawing new cards to replace the ones that were discarded.

What the bonus in the title refers to is the pay table. Any online bonus video poker game will feature payback for four of a kind that is higher than normal. And as you start to move up through games with names like Double and Triple Bonus, the payback for four of a kind will be even more exaggerated.

Bonuses Can Have Pros and Cons

The reason that video poker players like this format is that these increased payback amounts also mean increased chances to win a lot of money in a single hand. For those who feel like Jacks or Better is too much of a grind, this can be quite appealing. These big-payback hands, or at least the potential for them, can really spice up game play.

The drawback to bonus games is that, to make up for the higher payback for four of a kind, payback for common winning hands is often discounted. When this happens, you can expect your video poker play to be a lot more volatile. You’ll deal with a lot of ups and downs and might need to up your bankroll to avoid losing it all when a slump hits.

In the following article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about online bonus video poker. We’ll talk about the pros and cons for these games and go through some of the most popular versions. And we’ll also talk about how this type of play can affect the kind of strategy that you’ll have to use.

Game Play for Online Bonus Video Poker

As we said above, there is no need to learn anything new in terms of the mechanics of playing the game when you’re dealing with any of the major online bonus video poker games. It’s possible that you’ll find some Bonus pay tables attached to games with special features which could change things up a bit. But for the most part, the most popular Bonus variations stick to main format.

For a Quick Refresher, Here’s How You Play::

  1. Bankroll: You put some money into a gambling account at a top gambling website. This can be done by credit card, cryptocurrency, or other funding methods. The bankroll will be rendered in units known as credits or coins, which are tied to the denomination you’re playing.
  2. Bet: Most online video poker games give you the option of betting anywhere from one through five credits. The five-credit bet, also known as the Max Bet, is the best strategic bet. Betting the maximum amount will unlock the best payback for the royal flush, the most lucrative hand.
  3. Deal: You’ll get five cards on the deal, which will come from a standard deck of 52. Each deal is random and completely independent of any that came before it. Random number generator software inside the game ensures that.
  4. Decision: You have to decide which cards to hold and discard in an attempt to achieve the best possible five-card poker combination. The cards that you hold will be part of your final hand. And the cards that you discard will be replaced by others from the 47 cards remaining in the deck.
  5. Draw: Cards will be drawn from the deck to replace the discarded cards. This competes the hand. If you have made a winning combination, your bankroll will be credited.

What Makes Online Bonus Poker Different?

The main difference in any online bonus video poker game is the payback for Four of a Kind. It is different when compared to Jacks or Better video poker.

Let’s take a look at a pay table for Jacks or Better to understand why:

Jacks or Better

Coins/Hands 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full house 6 12 18 24 30
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Payback for Jacks or Better is based solely on the likelihood of achieving those hands. In other words, the less likely it is that you’ll achieve a hand. And the way that the payback is scaled is also based on the probability.

Bonus poker upends the equation a bit. It weights four of a kind hands more heavily.

In most cases, four of a kind hands pay back more than the straight flush in bonus games. This is despite the fact that you’re much more likely to achieve a four of a kind, based on video poker hand probability, than you are to make a Straight Flush.

Let’s take a look at the most basic online bonus poker game pay table to show you how this works:

Bonus Poker

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a Kind (aces) 80 160 240 320 400
4 of a Kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) 40 80 120 160 200
4 of a Kind (any other) 25 50 75 100 125
Full House 8 16 24 32 40
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 4 8 12 16 24
3 of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 Pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or Better 1 2 3 4 5

You can see how the payback for four of a kind on the Bonus pay table is separated based on the rank of the cards involved. On the Jacks or Better table, all four of a kind hands pay the same.

You can also see how the four of a kind hands on the Bonus pay table from ace through four all pay more than they do on the Jacks or Better table. As a result, you’ll have more opportunities for high-payback hands during game play.

In the case of the basic Bonus pay table, you can see that the only areas where it is lacking compared to the Jacks or Better game is in payback for the flush and the full house. But as you’ll see in the next section, other Bonus games are much more aggressive at the top of the pay table while also being much stingier at the bottom.

Aggressive Online Bonus Video Poker Variations

By “aggressive,” we mean that these games are much more willing to tinker with the pay table and completely upend the probabilities. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular of these games by checking out their pay tables.

Double Bonus Poker

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a Kind (aces) 160 320 480 640 800
4 of a Kind (2s, 3s or 4s) 80 160 240 320 400
4 of a Kind (any other) 50 100 150 200 250
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 7 14 21 28 35
Straight 5 10 15 20 25
3 of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 Pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Jacks or Better 1 2 3 4 5

Double Double Bonus Poker

Hand/Coins 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 Aces w/any 2,3,4 400 800 1200 1600 2000
4 2s, 3s, 4s w/ any A,2,3,4 160 320 480 640 800
4 Aces 160 320 480 640 800
4 2s, 3s, 4s 80 160 240 320 400
4 5s through Ks 50 100 150 200 250
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 Pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of Jacks + 1 2 3 4 5

Triple Double Bonus

Hand/Coins 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 200 400 600 800 4000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a kind – aces 2, 3, 4 kicker 800 1600 2400 3200 4000
4 of a kind – 2s, 3s, or 4s A, 2, 3, or 4 kicker 400 800 1200 1600 2000
4 of a kind – aces 5s – Ks kicker 160 320 480 640 800
4 of a kind – 2s, 3s, or 4s 5s – Ks kicker 80 160 240 320 400
4 of a kind – any other 50 100 150 200 250
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 7 14 21 28 35
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a kind 2 4 6 8 10
2 Pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of jacks + 1 2 3 4 5

Deuces Wild Bonus

Coins/Hands 1 Coin 1 Coin 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
4 Deuces with an Ace 400 800 1200 1600 2000
4 Deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild Royal Flush 25 50 75 100 125
5 Aces 80 160 240 320 400
5 3s, 4s, or 5s 40 80 120 160 200
5 6s through Ks 20 40 60 80 100
Straight Flush 10 20 30 40 50
4 of a Kind 4 8 12 16 20
Full House 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 3 6 9 12 15
Straight 1 2 3 4 5
3 of a Kind 1 2 3 4 5

You can see that, as you move down the list, these pay tables boost the four of a kind hands higher and higher. But you also might notice how, at the bottom of the table, some of the payback for common winning hands are discounted.

(In the case of the Deuces Wild Bonus game, the difference comes in the five of a kind hands being paid more aggressively. With four wild cards in play, five of a kind hands are a distinct possibility, while four of a kind hands happen quite often.)

Volatility In Online Bonus Video Poker

The big change that you’ll notice when you play online bonus video poker of any kind is the volatility level. It’s an important to concept to understand.

Volatility, also sometimes called variance, refers to the way that a bankroll goes up and down during game play. In a game with low volatility, the bankroll can be expected to be steady and not move up and down too much from the base level. As the volatility rises, you can expect more drastic swings between times when your bankroll is flush and times when it is depleted.

The more aggressively that an online bonus video poker game pays back on four of a kind hands, the more volatile the game will be. Why is that the case?

In bonus games, a greater percentage of payback is tied up in four of a kind hands than is the case in Jacks or Better, which is pretty much the lowest volatility game you can find. Four of a kind is a relatively rare hand in video poker, maybe one in a thousand or so.

In the meantime, hands like Two Pair and Three of a Kind, which are discounted on some of the Bonus pay tables above, will appear frequently during video poker play. Put that all together and you’ll be getting paid less for hands that come up often and more for hands that come up rarely.

What does that do to your bankroll? In the stretches when you can’t achieve one of the rare hands, your bankroll will sink faster than it otherwise would. Getting common winning hands won’t keep it afloat as would be the case in Jacks or Better.

The flipside of that is that, when you do get one of those four of a kind hands, your bankroll will receive a significant boost. Hence you have more potential for times when your bankroll is well above well it started.

Deciding If You Like the Volatility of Online Bonus Video Poke

Is high-volatility good or bad? Well, it depends on your outlook.

If you’re the type who wants to play a long session of video poker on a small bankroll, you’ll want the volatility to be as low as possible. Of the games listed above, you’d be better off sticking with the basic Bonus video poker format, since it doesn’t discount for three of a kind or two pair.

If you do want to play a long session on one of the higher-volatility games, you’ll have to think about boosting your bankroll. Otherwise, your risk of ruin, which measures the likelihood you’ll lose all of your original bankroll, will be extremely high.

The other way to look at it is that high-volatility online video poker games also raise your chances of winning a lot of money in a small amount of time. If you’re a casual player who isn’t concerned about losing your bankroll but wants more chances at jackpots, you should be looking for games with the highest volatility, like Triple Double Bonus poker.

Strategy for Online Bonus Video Poker Games

Whenever you start looking for different online video poker games, you have to realize that there will be a different set of strategic plays attached to each game. Changing the pay table will always affect strategy, since you’ll be partially basing what to hold and discard based on the how much payback is involved.

In the case of Bonus video poker games that are available, the most obvious adjustment you’ll have to make is to prioritize getting four of a kind. Remember that these hands are being awarded out of proportion to the likelihood of your achieving them. To maximize your payback percentage for these pay tables, you’ll have to look for these hands more often than normal.

Let’s look at an example deal to show why this is the case.

Imagine receiving the following five-card deal:

  • Six of diamonds
  • Six of hearts
  • Eight of spades
  • Ace of hearts
  • Ace of clubs

This is a pretty great deal, as you received two pair right off the bat, ensuring yourself of payback regardless of what happens on the draw. Your first instinct, based on what you know about poker hands, might be to hold onto the two pair and drop the eight of spades.

This would certainly be the right play if you were playing Jacks or Better. You’d be locking in payback of 2 to 1, which is always a good thing. And you’d still have a decent chance (a shade better than 1 in 12) of drawing another ace or six and getting a full house, which pays 9 to 1.

But what about if you were playing Triple Double Bonus and received that deal? If you were and you did, holding the two pair would actually be incorrect, at least according to the long-term mathematical projections.

In Triple Double Bonus, two pair pays only even money. That means that the pair of aces that you have is essentially worth the same as the two pair.

  • If you held the two pair, you’d still have a chance at the full house. But the potential reward you’d be giving up by playing it that way is substantial.
  • If you were to hold onto to pair of aces and drop everything else, you’d be drawing three cards. You’d still have the same even-money minimum in place as if you were holding the two pair. But you’d also have many more chances to improve the hand.
  • The ideal would be if you could draw two more aces. That would give you four of a kind aces, which provides, at least, payback of 160 to 1. If you were to get really lucky and end up with the four aces and a two, three or four kicker, the payoff is 800 to 1, or the same as a royal flush.

For all of those reasons, the correct play for this deal on a Triple Double Bonus pay table would be to hold just the four aces. It’s a great example of why you always have to tailor your pay table to the specific online bonus pay table you happen to be playing. Otherwise, your poker instincts might lead you astray.

Conclusion

We hope that this article provides you with the foundation you need to take on online bonus video poker games at real money online casinos offering video poker. If you like your video poker action a little spicier than usual, these games are the way to go.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

View all posts by Jim Beviglia
Email the author at: [email protected]