Pyramid Bonus Poker Video Poker

Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker stands as one of the quirkier twists on video poker you’re likely to see. Instead of playing a single hand, your five cards will essentially be broken down into three separate hands. You’ll be playing your normal five-card hand along with two three-card hands that are dependent upon where the cards are oriented on the screen.


If you walk into a casino, you’re likely to find a section teeming with all different kinds of video poker games. You’re also likely to see that section teeming with activity. For good reason, video poker stands as one of the most popular casino games anywhere in the world.

Many video poker games utilize the format of Five-Card Draw Poker, only in a you-against-the-machine type of format. Payment is based on the likelihood of achieving a certain hand, with the rarest hands paying the most. That is the format for Jacks or Better, which is sort of the standby format of video poker.

But many gamblers showed a desire to branch out from that format. That left video poker manufacturers scrambling to come up with different twists on the game. And sure enough, they came up with some extremely creative ones.

What Makes Pyramid Bonus Poker Different?

Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker certainly stands as one of the most unique of all of those video poker games that branch off the main format into new territory. First of all, it takes a higher bet than normal to play the game. You essentially have to bet three times as much as you usually would.

The reason for this is that you’ll be playing three hands at once when you play Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. First of all, you will be watching the results for your five-card hand, which you will play in the normal deal-and-draw format of video poker. A pay table based on this hand will be consulted to see your winnings from this part of the game.

On top of that, you’ll also be trying to keep track of two separate three-card hands when playing Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. The first will be comprised of the first, second, and third cards on the screen from the left. And the second will come from the third, fourth, and fifth cards in your hand as they appear on the screen.

In other words, you’ll have a three-card hand forming on the left and another on the right. If you can make winning poker combinations out of these, you can get paid from them as well. Separate pay tables will be included for these three-card hands.

You might be able to see the benefit of playing Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker right off the bat. If you get a great hand, you have a chance of benefitting from it several times over. The possibility exists for you to win three times all at once.

The big downside of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker is that it really confuses strategy. You’ll have to decide whether or not to service the three-card hands or worry about the five-card hand. On top of that, a bad deal will hurt you three times over.

In the following article, we’ll explain all you need to know about playing Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, which can be found in casinos and online gambling websites alike. We’ll talk about how to play the basic five-card hand and explain the three-card hands as well. And we’ll look at the pay tables, payback percentages, and strategy aspects of this unique game.

Playing a Basic Video Poker Hand

Before we get into the intricacies of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, you first have to figure out how to play a normal five-card hand of video poker. Then, you’ll be able to understand the twist of this unique game.

If you’ve never played video poker before, it’s a pretty easy concept to grasp. You won’t have any problems learning it if you’ve played some sort of poker before and know how to form winning hands. Even if you’re brand new to poker, however, you should be able to learn video poker quickly.

You’ll find video poker to be one of the most gambler-friendly of all casino games. It sits somewhere in between slot machines and table games, and it manages to combine the finest aspects of both.

Like slot machines, video poker is self-contained. You don’t need any help to play the game. Nor do you have to worry as much about the etiquette and protocol attached to table games, which can sometimes be intimidating.

Like table games, video poker includes a strategic element, which makes for an exciting challenge every time you play. Probability math will help you to figure out what winning hands are available to you each deal, and you get to decide which one to pursue. And payback percentages rank among the highest of all casino games.

On top of that, video poker makes for a smooth transition from playing in a casino to playing online. You can easily play a top video poker variation like Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker at a gambling website without losing any of the experience.

But first, you have to get down the basics. With that in mind, let’s walk through a sample hand of video poker, from the time you put your money in all the way through the process of actually making your decisions about the hand.

Step 1: Insert Your Money

The money you put into your machine will be the bankroll that you have to play the game. Put in a lot and you should be able to play your machine for a long time. Only put in a little and it might be a short session unless you get lucky.
If you’re playing online, you’ll need to find a gambling website you can trust. Once you do, create an account. Then, fund that account so you can create a video poker bankroll.

No matter if you’re playing online or in a casino, your bankroll is rendered in credits or coins. Each of these units will be equal to whatever denomination you’ve chosen to play. Some machines let you choose the denomination, while others have it set beforehand.

For an idea of how credits work, imagine that you put $10 into a nickel video poker machine. Divide 10 by .05 and you’ll come up with 200. That’s how many credits you’ll have to play.

Step 2: Make Your Bet

It’s important note the differences between Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker and standard video poker. Most video poker games allow you to bet between one and five coins per hand. But remember that you’ll be playing three hands at once in this variation.

You have to make a bet of one through five coins for each of these hands. As a result, you will be betting either 3, 6, 9, 12, or 15 coins for each of these three-hand rounds that you play.

Ideally, you can make the 15-coin bet for each three hands that you play. Why? Well, it comes down to the royal flush payout on your main, five-card hand.

If you bet one through four coins, a five-card royal flush pays off 250 to 1. While that might seem like a big amount, it pales next to the 800 to 1 payoff you’ll get at the five-coin level.

Paying 15 coins for every single three-hand round might seem like a lot. But you’ll be greatly disappointed if you end up with a five-card royal flush without that betting commitment. Making the maximum wager, or “Max Bet,” each time you play raises your estimated payback to its highest level.

Step 3: Play Your Hand

We will get into the three-card hands in Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker in a little bit. For now, let’s just focus on the mechanics of a five-card hand in standard video poker.

We said a little earlier that video poker is based largely on the table game known as Five-Card Draw Poker. In that game, you get a deal of five cards then try to improve it the best you can by replacing cards, if you need to, on the draw. Your goal is to beat everybody at the table, either by forming the best hand or getting them to give up their hands by bluffing.

In video poker, you don’t have to worry about bluffing or beating multiple players. You just have to form a winning hand as determined by the pay table. If you do, you’ll win money back from your original wager.

What are the winning hands? In terms of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, you’ll be trying to achieve the following combinations of cards:

  • Pair of jacks or better
  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (five cards of consecutive rank, like 3-4-5-6-7)
  • Flush (five cards of same suit)
  • Full house (three of a kind and two pair in the same hand)
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush (straight with five cards of same suit)
  • Royal flush (ten, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit)

The top of that list features hands that are relatively easy to achieve and, thus, don’t pay that much. As you move down the list, you’ll find hands that don’t come up as often during gameplay. And those hands at the bottom of the list pay the most.

When you make your wager, five cards will appear on your screen. These cards will come from a simulated 52-card deck which includes the same cards that appear in a standard deck. You will assess this deal for the combinations listed above.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a winning combination right off the bat. You’ll get a chance to improve your hand on the draw. This is when you get to replace cards from your deal with others in the deck.

You’ll be thinking of probabilities when you make your decision. Remember that the deck will only include 47 cards for the draw. That’s because the five you were dealt are out of the picture from the original 52.

Most hands will require you to decide whether to take a better chance at a lower-paying hand or a longer shot at a higher-paying hand. These decisions will be based not just on your chances of getting a winning hand, but also how much it will potentially pay.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to discard anything if your deal creates a winning combination you don’t think you can improve. Or you can discard all five cards if you don’t think any of them are worthy of carrying forward into the draw.

Whatever you decide, you will press the buttons on the screen below the cards you want to hold. The machine will then replace any cards you’ve discarded to complete the hand. That completes the hand, and you’ll get paid for any winning combinations.

That, in essence, is how a basic hand of video poker is played. You can continue playing in this manner as long as you have credits left to bet. Or you can cash out your winnings if you choose to quit before your credits are exhausted.

Now that we have the basics of video poker down, let’s move on to discuss Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker and the three hands you’ll be playing at once.

The Three Hands of Pyramid Bonus Poker Video Poker

In the above description, you learned how to play a basic hand of video poker. You’ll be doing that when you play Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker.

But you’ll also have to be aware of the order in which the cards appear. That will allow you to see if you can also win one or both of the three-card hands you’ll be playing.

First of all, as stated above, you have to make bets for each of the three hands. Once you do, five cards will appear on screen as always. Let’s walk through a sample hand of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker to demonstrate.

Let’s assume that you make a max bet of 15 coins. See the deal below.

Jack of Spades, Five of Hearts, Six of Hearts, Jack of Clubs, Jack of Diamonds

In terms of a five-card hand, you’re in pretty good shape. You have three of a kind with the jacks. And normally, you would press ahead with them and discard the four and five of hearts without a second thought.

But remember that, when playing Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, you’ll also be looking at the three-card possibilities. Let’s break down the hand into the three-card hands.

Left Three-Card Hand:

Poker Hand

Right Three-Card Hand:

Poker Hand

As it is constructed right now, Hand 1 is not a winner. But it’s just one card shy of a three-card straight flush. If you discard the jack of spades, you would make that straight flush by drawing a four of hearts or seven of hearts.

What about hand 2? Well, the pair of jacks will get you even money in return, meaning that you will get back that portion of the wager, which is five coins.

Now, we have to break this hand down in terms of your decision-making. If you worry about the five-card hand, you should play the three jacks and discard the others, as we said.

But doing that would give you no chance at the straight flush on the left three-card hand. You would have to break that up, leaving just the jack of spades in that trio.

Of course, should you decide to drop the jack of spades, the draw could work in your favor. Take a look at this draw in particular:

Jack of Spades, Four of Clubs, Jack of Hearts, Jack of Clubs, Jack of Diamonds

This is an example of a situation where you would win all three of the hands. On the main, five-card hand, you drew four of a kind. That is one of the highest-paying hands in the game.

But you also ended up with winnings on both of the three-card hands. Let’s take a look at them:

Left: Three-Card Hand:

Poker Hand

Right: Three-Card Hand:

Poker Hand

You ended up with a pair on the left hand. And you made three of a kind on the right hand.

That’s a pretty impressive score. Let’s add it all up, assuming that you’re playing the pay table that we have listed below and five coins bet in each case:

  • Left Three-Card Hand: Pair of Jacks or Better = 5 coins
  • Right Three-Card Hand: Three of a Kind = 25 coins
  • Main Five-Card Hand: Four of a Kind (with Jacks) = 125 coins

Add it all up and you come up with 155 coins. Minus the 15-coin bet, you ended up with 140 coins of profit.

You can see from this ideal example how Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker can really boost your winnings in a hurry. But that draw was perfect. And it could have turned out much differently.

You gave up the straight flush possibility in the left hand. What if the first card on the draw was one that would have completed the straight flush? In that case, your decision to concentrate on the main five-card hand would have been a faulty one.

You also have to realize there will be many three-hand rounds in Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker that will come up completely empty. That means you will be dropping 15 coins from your bankroll just like that. It puts a lot more pressure on your bankroll than the standard game.

Let’s talk a little about the pay tables now to see how winning hands are rewarded in Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker.

Pay Tables and Payouts for Pyramid Bonus Poker

Whenever you play a video poker game, one of the first things you should doing is examining the pay tables. They take a lot of the guesswork out of video poker. Your pay table should dictate your strategy as well as showing what you can expect from the machine in terms of payback.

In the case of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, you’ll have to worry about three sets of pay tables. You’ll be looking at both the main five-card pay table as well as the two three-card pay tables.

Let’s take a look at the main pay table for Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker first:

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 800 1,600 2,400 3,200 4,000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind (aces) 80 160 240 320 400
Four of a kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) 40 80 120 160 200
Four of a kind (any other) 25 50 75 100 125
Full house 8 18 24 32 40
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 4 8 12 16 24
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

How do you read this pay table? Simply connect the rows and columns in terms of the winning hands and the amount bet. For example, a full house made on a five-coin bet will return you 40 coins.

What you might realize from looking at that pay table is that it’s structured like a standard Bonus Poker pay table. Bonus Poker pay tables reward four of a kind hands at a higher level than what you would expect from a Jacks or Better table. It also distinguishes between four of a kind hands based on the rank involved, something that Jacks or Better doesn’t do.

Note that four of a kind with aces actually pays more than a straight flush in Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. Overall, you’ll have a better chance at a payoff of more than 100 coins playing this game than if you were playing Jacks or Better.

Now, let’s move onto the three-card hands and their payouts.

Left Three Cards Payouts

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Three-card royal flush 50 100 150 200 250
Straight flush 20 40 60 80 100
Three of a kind 10 20 30 40 40
Straight 5 10 15 20 25
Flush 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Right Three Cards Payouts

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Three-card royal flush 100 200 300 400 500
Straight flush 15 30 45 60 75
Three of a kind 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Flush 2 4 6 8 10
Pair of jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

You read these pay tables in the same manner as you would a five-card hand. For the royal flush, straight flush, flush, and straight with these pay tables, you only have to complete those hands with three cards. Examples:

Three-Card Royal Flush:

Poker Hand

Three-Card Straight Flush:

Poker Hand

Three-Card Flush:

Poker Hand

Three-Card Straight:

Poker Hand

One of the strangest things about the three-card pay tables in Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker is how the left and right hands pay different amounts for the same hands. For example, the left three-card hand gets 10 to 1 for three of a kind hands. The right only gets 5 to 1 for the same hand.

In fact, every single winning hand except jacks or better is different from one side to the next. That means you have to pay careful attention when deciding what you want to pursue on the draw. It makes strategy for Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker quite difficult, as we’ll soon explore.

Keep in mind that you might be able to find pay tables based on other video poker variations on a Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker machine.

  • Bonus Poker Deluxe
  • Double Bonus
  • Aces And Faces
  • Double Jackpot
  • Deuces Wild

In case you’ve never played it before, Deuces Wild is a game where the twos in the deck are designated as wild. This means they can be turned into any card in the deck that improves the hand the most. Deuces Wild pay tables include certain hands (like five of a kind) that can only be made with wild cards.

In the case of the variations above, you will see different amounts for winning hands in some cases. That goes for the three-card hands as well as the five-card hands. You should inspect each pay table to see which one fits your style of play the best.

Payback Percentages for Pyramid Bonus Poker

Payback percentage is a concept which many people fail to grasp when they first start playing video poker. They assume that it’s a prediction of how much they will make (or lose) when they play a particular video poker.

In actuality, payback percentage is a mathematical estimation of the expected return of a specific video poker machine. If you were to put “x” amount of money into a machine and bet it all during the course of a session, you would walk away with “y” amount of dollars in your payroll on average. That’s how payback percentage works.

Imagine that you walked up to a Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. On the very first round of three hands, you came up with the four of a kind, three of a kind, pair combo that we showed you above.

Well, your personal payback percentage, right off the bat, would be sky high. And you could probably play for some time with it well above the 100% mark because of the big win you scored on that initial hand.

Now, imagine that you walked up to play Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker another time and lost all three hands on the first five rounds. Suddenly, your payback percentage is zero.

Neither one of these payback percentages is anywhere near the actual percentage of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, which sits somewhere in the neighborhood of 84% for the pay tables listed above. In other words, on average, $100 bet in the machine would leave a bankroll of $84 for a $16 loss.

Percentage Over a Pile of Money
Over a long period of time playing Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, you can expect your payback percentage to come in around that number. And the bad news is that 84% is on the low side for video poker.

As a matter of fact, that payback percentage comes in around where you would expect slot machines to finish. Considering that most video poker machines easily outdistance slot machines in terms of payback, you can understand how Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker is lagging.

Does that mean you should completely cross it off your list of video poker games you might like to play? Well, not necessarily. It all depends on what you’re looking to get out of it.

If you’re the type who plans on playing a specific game for the long haul and hoping to eke out a credit through what you get from the game and what you get from casinos or gambling websites, Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker probably isn’t your answer. It might just be better to go with a game where the payback percentage comes around 99% or more.

But if you’re looking to spend some leisure time in a casino or online hoping to hit it big in a hurry, Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker actually comes off quite well in that regard. Because you have the chance of conceivably scoring three times at once, you could win more in a hurry than you could with regular video poker variations.

Pyramid Bonus Poker Video Poker Strategy

We talk about strategy in video poker when it comes to the decisions about what cards to hold and discard from your deal. But how do you figure out strategy when it comes to three hands being played all at once?

That’s the difficult part of Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. Normally, in this section, we would recommend either strategy charts or video poker training software as a way to make the right choices for every deal. But the unique nature of this game renders those methods somewhat ineffective.

After all, they can’t really account for all of the variables involved with the two three-card hands played along with the normal five-card one. Training software only works if you can customize it to a specific pay table. It’s doubtful you can do it with three.

And strategy charts are usually only based on a single pay table. Even if you could find one devoted to Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker, the total of possible card combinations that you would have to memorize would be much longer than any other game. You’d have to take into account the location of the card on the screen as well as what its rank and suit might be.

So, is there a way to play Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker with the absolutely correct strategy? Well, probably not 100%. It’s likely that, even if you follow our instructions, you might end up making some mistakes here and there.

By mistakes, we mean that you might choose cards to hold or discard which robs the deal of its highest expected value. Finding the highest expected value on every deal is the only way to maximize your video poker winnings.

We suggest that you concentrate on the five-card hand first and foremost. The simple reason for that is that the payouts are higher in those pay tables and you have more ways to win. As a result, a larger percentage of your payback will come from the five-card hand as opposed to the left and right ones.

If you don’t have much going on in the five-card hand, that’s when it’s time to turn your attention to the three-card hands. You’re probably better keeping off a solid-paying three-card hand instead of risking losing that payback by reaching for a five-card hand.

Again, you should also have a firm grasp on the pay table you’re playing on your Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. Know the differences between the payouts for the left and right hands so you can properly prioritize. And compare the payout for those hands with the pay for the five-card hands to really make the most informed decision.

We can’t guarantee that by following that advice that you’ll achieve perfect play in Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker. But we can say that you’re better off following those rules than someone who is taking stabs in the dark with their choices.

Pyramid Bonus Poker Video Poker Pros and Cons


  • You can win multiple times at once, giving you a chance at significant winnings in a hurry
  • It’s a unique challenge for video poker players looking for something different
  • You can find several different pay tables from which to choose

  • It’s almost impossible to devise a perfect strategy
  • Payback percentage sits on the low side compared to most other video poker games
  • You have to pay more to play than if you were playing just normal, single-hand video poker

Conclusion on Pyramid Bonus Poker Video Poker

Pyramid Bonus Poker video poker presents a truly different way to look at a typical five-card deal. The low payback percentage renders this game not much more than a curiosity for hardcore video poker players. But, if you’re feeling lucky, the size of the potential rewards could make this game quite valuable.