Most video poker games resemble each other closely. The big differences from
game to game are the pay tables and the presence of any multipliers. (Some games
have wild cards, too.)
In Ultimate X Poker, you can double your bet and activate a random
One other variation from one game to another is how many hands (or lines) you
get to play. Many video poker variations only come in single line or multi line
versions, but Ultimate X is available in both versions.
This page covers the basics of how to play video poker in general and
Ultimate X specifically. This is probably the only page you’ll need to read
before playing the game. We also go into detail about the pay tables and
strategies for the games.
The Basics of Playing Ultimate X Video Poker
Ultimate X video poker follows the usual pattern for video poker in general:
You insert money into the video poker machine, which is converted into
credits based on the denomination of the machine. For example, if you insert
$100 into a quarter machine, you have 400 credits. Insert that same $100 into a
$5 machine, and you only have 80 credits.
The terms “credits” and “coins” are used interchangeably.
You then decide how many coins to bet on your hand-you can choose 1 coin, 5
coins, or any number of coins in between.
But the correct strategy is always to make the 5-coin bet. Here’s why:
The payoff for a royal flush is the jackpot. If you bet 1, 2, 3, or 4 coins,
the payoff for that hand is either 200 for 1 or 250 for 1, depending on the
But if you bet 5 coins, the payoff is 800 for 1.
That’s a huge difference. A royal flush only comes up once every 40,000 hands
or so, but the difference in payoff is enough that it will subtract 2% or so
from the overall payback percentage of the machine. (We’ll explain more about
payback percentages in the next section.)
After you choose how many coins to play, the machine “deals” you a 5-card
poker hand. You can choose to keep or discard any, all, or none of the cards in
your hand. You do this by pushing the “hold” button beneath each card, or you
can just touch the card on the screen.
The machine replaces the cards you’ve discarded, and you win an amount based
on the poker hand you’re left with. The machine has a posted pay table which
indicates how much each hand is worth.
You’ll notice that video poker isn’t like traditional poker because you don’t
have to beat another player’s hand. You just get paid based on how good your
You’ll also notice that video poker isn’t like a slot machine, either. The
symbols on slot machines are arbitrary with arbitrary probabilities assigned to
each of them. A slot machine has a pay table, but without knowing the
probability of getting each symbol, you have no way to calculate the payback
percentage or house edge for the game.
With video poker games, including Ultimate X Poker, you know that the
probabilities are based on those of a 52-card deck. That’s not enough for the
average player to calculate the actual payback percentage for the game, but with
a computer, making that calculation is easy.
That’s a huge difference, by the way. In one game, you can know what the odds
you’re facing are. In the other, you can’t. We always go for a known over an
The wrinkle that Ultimate X Poker adds to this gameplay is the option to
double your bet in exchange for a multiplier applied to your winnings.
Here’s how that works:
The maximum bet on a normal video poker game is 5 coins. If you bet 5 coins
on an Ultimate X game, the game proceeds as if it were a regular video poker
game. In fact, depending on the pay table, Ultimate X IS another video poker
game-it’s just a video poker game with an optional multiplier you can activate.
To activate this multiplier, all you must do is bet 10 coins on the hand
instead of 5.
This isn’t that innovative a feature, but Ultimate X has a unique way of
applying their multiplier. Most video poker games offering multipliers assign a
random multiplier. Ultimate X bases the multiplier on the ranking of your final
Here’s an example:
A royal flush, straight flush, or 4 of a kind results in a 2X multiplier.
A full house results in a 12X multiplier.
A flush results in an 11X multiplier.
A straight results in a 7X multiplier.
A 3 of a kind results in a 4X multiplier.
2 pairs result in a 3X multiplier.
A pair of jacks or better results in a 2X multiplier.
We should point out that the sizes of the multipliers vary based on which
machine you’re playing. These are just example numbers from a commonly used pay
It’s also important to point out that these are NOT the payouts for the
hands. This is a multiplier applied to the payout you would have had.
A royal flush pays off at 800 for 1 normally. In the above example, that hand
would pay off at 800 X 2, or 1600.
One of the perks of playing Ultimate X Poker is knowing the size of the
multipliers. Many video poker games assign multipliers randomly. This converts
those games into a slot machine of sorts, because without knowing how often or
when the multipliers are applied, you can’t calculate the payback percentage for
But since we know the probability of getting each hand, we also know the
probability of getting the multiplier, so we can calculate what that does to the
payback percentage for the game.
Like many video poker variations, the feature of Ultimate X Poker sits on top
of an existing game variation and pay table. The following games are available
in an “Ultimate X version”:
Bonus Poker Deluxe
Double Double Bonus
Jacks or Better
Triple Double Bonus
The Pay Tables and Payback Percentages for Ultimate X Video Poker
The pay tables for the variations of Ultimate X Poker aren’t significantly
different from standard variations of the game. For example, it’s easy to find
an Ultimate X video poker game of Jacks or Better with an 8/6 pay table.
Here’s what that pay table looks like:
4 of a kind
3 of a kind
Pair of Js+
Let’s just talk about the basic pay table first. It’s a Jacks or Better pay
table, and it’s called an 8/6 Jacks or Better game because it pays 8 for 1 for a
full house and 6 for 1 for a flush. Those are the 2 hands that video poker game
designers modify the payouts on to adjust the payback percentage for the game.
The payback percentage for this game in its unvarnished (non-Ultimate X
version) is 98.4%.
That’s not bad, but the full pay version (9/6 Jacks or Better) game offers a
99.54% payback percentage.
That payback percentage assumes that you’re making the correct decision on
every hand, too. If you’re a novice or have no card sense, you can safely
subtract between 2% and 4% from that theoretical return.
Let’s also talk briefly about what that number means. The payback percentage
is the amount of each bet that the casino expects the machine to pay back to the
player over time. It’s expressed as a percentage.
With a game offering a 98.4% payback percentage, the casino expects you to
get back $98.40 for every $100 you put through the machine.
And the formula for calculating how much money you put through the machine is
easy enough, too. You just multiply the number of bets by the bet size.
An average video poker player plays about 600 hands per hour. That sounds
like a lot, but it’s a fast-paced game.
If you’re playing a quarter machine and making a 5-coin bet on every hand,
you’re putting 600 X $1.25 = $750 per hour into action.
With a payback percentage of 98.4%, you’re mathematically expected to win
back $738 per hour. You’re expected to lose $12 per hour.
It’s also important to understand that this is a long-term expectation. In
the short run, your results will almost certainly vary in one direction or
another. A long-term expectation starts to become closer to reality the more
bets you make. Over one or a dozen bets, you could be way off from the
expectation. But over 6000 or 60,000 bets, your results will start resembling
the mathematical expectation.
The effect of the multiplier on the payback percentage varies based on what
the multipliers are set for. If we assume that the example multipliers above are
in use on an 8/6 Jacks or Better game, the overall payback percentage for the
Ultimate X version of the game becomes 99.42%.
That’s almost (but not quite) as good as a standard full pay game.
Another effect that the multiplier has on the game is adding to its
That’s how much deviation from the expectation you can look forward to in the
short term. A game with low volatility has fewer swings in either direction. A
game with high volatility has larger swings.
When you’re doubling the amount of your wager on each hand from 5 to 10
coins, you increase your chances of having larger losing swings. You also
increase your chances of having larger winning swings because of the multiplier.
What does this imply to the player?
You need a larger bankroll than you might normally use on a lower volatility
Then again, if you’re playing any casino game where the house has an edge
over the player, you’ll eventually lose all your money-if you play long enough.
The effect of a larger bankroll is merely to keep you in action longer before
Becoming a professional gambler is beyond the scope of this page, but we’ll
Professional gamblers refuse to place a bet unless they have an edge over the
other party-the casino, the bookmaker, the competition at the poker table, etc.
You can find rare versions of video poker which have a payback percentage of
over 100%, but not in an Ultimate X edition. If you’re playing Ultimate X Poker,
you’re playing a game where the house has an unassailable mathematic edge.
Find Ultimate X Video Poker Online or Off
Real money online casinos don’t generally offer Ultimate X Poker games. It’s
an IGT product, so it’s under trademark. You might find games resembling this
one at various online casinos, but it’s an unusual enough feature that we can’t
even think of a similarly-named knockoff to recommend.
If you’re determined to play online, you can play the free version of the
game available at VideoPoker.com, but keep in mind that the pay tables there are
more generous than you’ll usually be able to find in a casino.
Unlike a lot of video poker variations, Ultimate X is reasonably easy to find
in major casino destinations. According to the game’s page on VideoPoker.com, 98
casinos in Nevada offer the game, and the state has over 502 machines. Ultimate
X Poker is also popular at California casinos, 27 of which offer the game.
Ultimate X Poker Strategy
The strategy for Ultimate X Poker varies slightly from the base game-because
of the multipliers. Keep in mind that some hands are more valuable when those
multipliers are in effect.
You can find strategy charts for all the variations of Ultimate X we’ve
listed above on the game-specific pages for those variants. They all work the
same way-start at the top of the chart, compare your hand with what’s listed,
and stop when you get to a hand you have. Then keep those cards, discarding the
Most of the time, this means hanging onto your pat hands. The philosophy is
to let the machine deal you a winner. On rare occasions, you’ll have the
opportunity to choose between a huge draw (like 4 cards to a royal flush)
instead of hanging onto a pat hand (like a high pair). In those cases, the
payoff for the huge draw needs to be immense to make it worthwhile to break up a
hand that’s guaranteed to pay off.
Finally, here’s one piece of meta-strategy specific to Ultimate X Poker:
The multipliers are added to your subsequent hands. This means that it’s
possible to walk away from the machine while multipliers are still left to be
In other words, you play a hand. Based on the final hand, you get a
multiplier which is applied to your next hand. If you run out of money before
playing that next hand, the multipliers are still on the machine.
You should NEVER walk away from a machine where you’ve earned a multiplier.
And if you’re savvy and have the inclination, it’s worthwhile to find
Ultimate X machines where other players left before applying their multipliers.
If you only took advantage of those situations, you would have an edge over the
You’d be playing so few hands per hour with that strategy, though, that it
would be impossible to earn any respectable hourly winnings that way.
Ultimate X Poker is a great game with a subtle bonus feature that improves
the payback percentage. We’re fans of games with a transparent edge, which is
why we enjoy video poker so much. Unfortunately, many VP games fail to make the
effect of their bonus features on the payback percentage transparent.
Ultimate X Poker is a refreshing change of pace in that respect. We’re also
fans of games where the bonus feature improves the payback percentage instead of
decrease the payback percentage.
You’ll want to make subtle adjustments to your strategy, but your best bet
with Ultimate X Poker is to look for machines which have leftover multipliers on
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