Deuces Wild Video Poker

Deuces Wild Video Poker

Deuces Wild is probably the 2nd most common form of video poker-right after Jacks or Better. The two games have much in common. In both games, you play on a video screen and get dealt a 5-card hand. You also have 2 rounds-the initial deal and the discard/replace round. You get paid off based on the strength of your hand, which roughly corresponds to the standard poker hand rankings.

The big difference between Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better is the inclusion of wild cards. All the 2s in the deck are treated as wild cards. If you're not familiar with poker in general, that means they can be used to substitute for any other card to create a higher-value combination (hand).

Since a standard deck of cards has 4 deuces, the strength of the hand at the end is usually much improved over the average strength of a hand in Jacks or Better.

The pay tables for Deuces Wild, as a result, are much different than the pay tables for Jacks or Better.

A Quick Video Poker Primer for Deuces Wild Novices

If you haven't already read our introduction to video poker or our page about Jacks or Better, here's a quick rundown on how video poker works:

Video poker machines are gambling machines resembling slot machines, but with important differences. The most important difference is the amount of information you have about the game, and the second most important difference is the element of strategy involved.

When you play a slot machine, you're trying to get certain combinations of symbols to win payouts base on those combinations. Video poker works the same way, but the probabilities are handled differently.

On a video poker game, an arbitrary probability is assigned to each symbol on a reel. You might see a symbol come up 1/10, 1/20, or 1/50 of the time.

But you have no way to know what that probability is.

When you're playing video poker, though, the probabilities duplicate the probabilities you'd see if you were playing any other game with a standard 52-card deck.

We know the payouts for the combinations in both slot machines and in video poker. But in slot machines, we don't know the probability of winning.

In video poker, we do, because we have the information we need-the payout odds and the odds of winning.

The other difference is the presence of decision making and strategy in VP games. You're dealt a 5-card hand at the start of the game. You must then choose which cards to keep and which cards to discard.

You have 32 different ways to play every hand, and only one of those ways has the highest expected return.

This adds a level of intricacy that's missing from slot machines and most other gambling games.

The rest of this page deals with common Deuces Wild pay tables and the appropriate strategies for the game.

An Example of a Deuces Wild Pay Table

Here's a reasonably common Deuces Wild pay table as an example:

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4000*
4 deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
5 of a kind 16 32 48 64 80
Straight flush 10 20 30 40 50
4 of a kind 4 8 12 16 20
Full house 4 8 12 16 20
Flush 3 6 9 12 15
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
3 of a kind 1 2 3 4 5

You'll notice a few things about this pay table if you're paying attention.

First, the royal flush still provides the bonus payoff if you're playing for 5 coins. You should always play for max coin when you're playing video poker because of this extra payoff amount.

You'll also notice some new hands on this pay table that aren't listed on the Jacks or Better pay table. Without the wild cards, these hands would be impossible.

The first of these is 4 deuce, which isn't exactly impossible in Jacks or Better-it just has a different implication. Because the 2s are wild, getting 4 of them means you have 5 of a kind.

You also now have the possibility of getting a "wild royal flush". This is a royal flush where one or more of the cards are 2s counting as wild. The bonus payoff for the royal flush only applies to a natural royal flush, not a royal flush that includes a wild card.

You'll also notice a payoff for a 5 of a kind-you can have a 5 of a kind with between 1 and 4 deuces, but the one with 4 deuces pays off significantly more.

Some of the hands which pay off well in Jacks or Better pay off much less in Deuces Wild. This is because those hands happen far more often when you have 4 wild cards.

For Example

A full house in Jacks or Better usually pays off at 9 for 1 or 8 for 1. Even the cheapest JoB games offer 7 for 1 or 6 for 1 for this hand.

But in this version of Deuces Wild, that hand only pays off at 4 for 1.

A single pair and two pair don't pay off at all. The lowest tier of payoffs in Deuces Wild is for 3 of a kind, which only pays off at 1 for 1.

This has interesting implications related to strategy.

The differences between pay tables in Deuces Wild are also more significant than in Jacks or Better, too.

By the way, this example pay table is for "not so ugly" Deuces Wild. The payback percentage, if you play with near-optimal strategy, is 99.73%. It's even better than full pay Jacks or Better, odds-wise. (Of course, full pay Deuces Wild has a 100.76% payback percentage, but good luck finding one of those machines.)

Deuces Wild Pay Table Variations

When you're comparing Jacks or Better pay tables, all you really do is compare the payoffs for 2 hands: the full house and the flush. When you see people compare these games, you'll see them refer to them as 9/5 JoB or 8/6 JoB.

But in Deuces Wild, the designers are more flexible with where they shift the payoffs.

One key hand in the pay table is the wild royal flush. Some games pay off at 25 for 1 for this hand, while many others pay off at 20 for 1.

The payoffs for 5 of a kind can range wildly, too. You might see a 16 for 1, 15 for 1, or 12 for 1 payoff on this hand.

Some Deuces Wild games pay as much as 13 for 1 on a straight flush, but others pay as little as 8 for 1. (9 for 1 is the most common.)

Each of these changes has a separate effect on the payback percentage for the game.

The good news is that many of these pay tables are excellent values.

At least 5 different pay tables offer payback percentages greater than 99%. We've listed the pay tables to look for below, along with their payback percentages.

Sequential Royal Flush Deuces Wild - 101.28%
Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Seq royal flush 12000 24000 36000 48,000 60,000
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000*
4 deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
5 of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Straight flush 9 18 27 36 45
4 of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Full house 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 2 4 6 8 10
Straight 2 4 6 8 10

A sequential royal flush is one in which you get the 10JQKA in that order. It's a huge payoff, but it happens on an incredibly rare basis.

You'll notice that the payback percentage is over 100%, which means you have an edge over the casino with this game-if you play with the correct strategy.

Full Pay Deuces Wild - 100.76%
Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4000*
4 deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
5 of a kind 15 30 45 60 75
Straight flush 9 18 27 36 45
4 of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Full house 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 2 4 6 8 10
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
3 of a kind 1 2 3 4 5

This is the full pay version of the game. It's also hard to find, but if you play well, you have a tiny edge over the casino. It's hard to find versions of this game for high enough stakes to make it worth trying to make a living playing it, though.

You can also find a version of this game with a single change-the straight flush pays off at 8 for 1 instead of 9 for 1. This version still has a positive expectation for the player, with a payback percentage of 100.36%.

Another version of this pay table reduces the payoff for the wild royal flush from 25 to 20. That single change puts the edge squarely back on the casino's side, but the game still has an excellent payback percentage-99.89%.

Estimating an Hourly Expected Win or Loss Rate Using this Information

The payback percentage is a statistical average you can only expect to see over the course of several thousand hands. But you can still use this information to get an estimate of how much money you can expect to win or lose over time on a machine.

Let's assume you're playing $5 per hand on a Deuces Wild game, and you're an average player, speed-wise. You're putting $3000 into action per hand.

If you're playing the full pay game, you have an edge over the casino. You expect to win 0.76% of that every hour-eventually. (In the short run, anything can happen.) That's $22.80 per hour in expected winnings.

Of course, practically no casino offers this game in this denomination. If you can find full pay Deuces Wild at all, you'll probably only be able to find it for a quarter, not a dollar. This means your expected win is only $5.70.

Being a professional video poker player is sounding less glamorous all the time, isn't it?

You're more likely going to be playing a game where the house has an edge, though. And even though the edge might be small, it will gradually eat away at your bankroll.

Let's assume you've found a "not so ugly" Deuces Wild game. The house edge for this game is only 0.27%, which means that if you're playing for $5 per hour, you can only expect to lose $8.10 per hour.

Compared to almost any other game in the casino, that's bargain entertainment.

Deuces Wild Strategy Advice

Deuces Wild strategy is more complicated than Jacks or Better strategy because of the wide variations in the payback tables. The beginning of Deuces Wild wisdom, though, is this:

You NEVER discard a deuce.

Once you've mastered that, the rest of the strategy tends to fall into place.

We have a future page on the way with strategy advice for multiple versions of Deuces Wild.


Deuces Wild is a fun alternative to Jacks or Better, but the wild cards make a dramatic difference to both the pay table and the strategy for the game. If you find a couple of the best pay tables, you can play with an edge against the casino.

You just have to make sure you learn to make the correct decisions almost all the time, which is harder than it sounds.

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