Gambling Tips > Video Poker

BEST BONUS POKER and ACES and FACES VIDEO POKER GAMES

By Henry Tamburin


In my previous article in this series on how to be a smart video poker player, I described what the best Jacks or Better games were. This time, I’ll discuss what are the best Bonus Poker and the similar Aces and Faces games.

 

Bonus Poker games have the characteristic that they pay a bonus amount if you get four aces through 4s compared to the payout for these hands in Jacks or Better. In the latter game, all four-of-a-kind hands pay the same amount, namely 25 coins per coin played. With Bonus Poker, four aces pays 80 coins per coin played, and four 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, pay 40 coins.

 

The extra quad bonuses with Bonus Poker come at the expense of a lower payout for the full house and flush compared to Jacks or Better. With Jacks or Better, the best payoff for the full house and flush is 9 coins and 6 coins respectively per coin played (known as 9/6 Jacks or Better). With Bonus Poker, you get short changed one coin on the full house and another on the flush, meaning the best Bonus Poker games pay 8/5. Of course, the benefit is the higher payout for the quad aces, and quad 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s. Overall, a non-progressive Bonus Poker game that returns 8 coins for a full house and 5 coins for the flush has an expected  return (ER) of 99.17% (which is slightly lower than 99.54% ER for a 9/6 Jacks-or-Better game). However, as the payoff for the full house and flush decreases, the ER for Bonus Poker game decreases. (Your goal should be to play only the Bonus Poker games that have the highest ER, at least 99% or greater.)

 

The following table summarizes the pay schedules for three of the most popular Bonus Poker games that pay the bonus for quad aces, 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s. The Bonus Poker game with the highest ER is the 8/5 game, where the full house and flush pay 8 and 5 coins respectively. Notice that the ER decreases for 7/5 and 6/5 Bonus Poker games (bottom of each column). For example, the ER for a 7/5 game returns only 98.01%, which is a 1.1% decrease from the 8/5 game. The worst Bonus Poker game pays only 6/5 for the full house and flush (96.87% ER). Therefore, if you are serious about winning, you should always play the full pay 8/5 Bonus Poker game rather than the short pay 7/5 and 6/5 games. Just look at the pay schedule for the Bonus Poker game and if it doesn’t show 8/5 for the full house and flush respectively, check the pay schedules for other Bonus Poker games (or go to www.vpfree2.com, where they maintain an inventory of good video poker games for each casino by region).

 

Bonus Poker

Per Coin Pay Schedules

 

Hand

8/5

7/5

6/5

Royal Flush

800

800

800

Straight Flush

 50

 50

 50

4-of-Kind with Aces

 80

 80

 80

4-of-Kind with 2s, 3s, 4s

 40

 40

 40

4-of-Kind with 5s through Ks

 25

 25

 25

Full House

   8

   7

   6

Flush

   5

   5

   5

Straight

   4

   4

   4

3-of-Kind

   3

   3

   3

Two Pair

   2

   2

   2

Jacks-or-Better

   1

   1

   1

ER

99.17%

98.01%

96.87%

 

IGT has a video poker game on their machines that they call “Bonus Poker” even though all quads are paid the same amount. The three pay schedules you most likely will find for this game is listed in the table below. The best pay schedule pays 35 coins per coin played for all quads with the full house and flush paying 8/5. The EV for the 35/8/5 game is a respectable 99.66% (which is slightly higher than the ER for the above 80/40/25/8/5 Bonus Poker game). The EV for the 30/8/5 game is only 98.48%, and for the 35/6/5 game, it decreases further to 97.36%; therefore, check the payouts for the quads, full house, and flush on any IGT Bonus Poker game, before you play.

 

Bonus Poker
Per Coin Pay Schedules

For 35/8/5 and 30/8/5 Games

 

Hand

35/8/5

30/8/5

35/6/5

Royal Flush

800

800

800

Straight Flush

 50

 50

 50

4-of-Kind with Aces

 35

 30

 35

4-of-Kind with 2s, 3s, 4s

 35

 30

 35

4-of-Kind with 5s through Ks

 35

 30

 35

Full House

   8

   8

   6

Flush

   5

   5

   5

Straight

   4

   4

   4

3-of-Kind

   3

   3

   3

Two Pair

   2

   2

   2

Jacks-or-Better

   1

   1

   1

ER

99.66%

98.48%

97.36%

 

You’ll also find 8/5 Bonus Progressive games where the amount of the royal flush for max coins played increases as more coins are played. A good rule of thumb to estimate the ER of a progressive game is the following: For every 1000 coins, the royal flush is above the 4000 coin base, the ER of the game will increase by 0.5%.

 

Some casinos offer 8/5 Bonus Poker but two pair only pays even money instead of 2 for 1 (ouch!). This is a real rip-off so be sure you check the entire pay schedule to be certain it matches the above pay schedule before you insert your cash and start playing.

 

A similar game to Bonus Poker is Aces and Faces. The difference is that with Aces and Faces you are paid 40 coins per coin bet for four Jacks through Kings (instead of 2’s through 4’s). There are three popular pay schedules for Aces and Faces (see table below). The best game with a 99.26% ER pays 8 coins for the full house and 6 coins for the flush. The worst game, as expected, is the 6/5 game, with an ER of only 96.96%.

 

 Aces and Faces
 Per Coin Pay Schedules
 For 8/5, 7/5, and 6/5 Games

 

Hand

8/5

7/5

6/5

Royal Flush

800

800

800

Straight Flush

 50

 50

 50

4-of-Kind with Aces

 80

 80

 80

4-of-Kind with J-K

 40

 40

 40

4-of-Kind with 2-10

 25

 25

 25

Full House

   8

   7

   6

Flush

   5

   5

   5

Straight

   4

   4

   4

3-of-Kind

   3

   3

   3

Two Pair

   2

   2

   2

Jacks-or-Better

   1

   1

   1

ER

99.26%

98.10%

96.96%

 

The three best Bonus Poker and Aces and Faces games are the 35/8/5 Bonus Poker game (ER 99.66%), the 8/5 Aces and Faces game (99.26% ER), and the 8/5 Bonus Poker game (99.17% ER). If addition, if you find a progressive 8/5 Bonus Poker game where the royal flush payout is at 5000 coins or more, this would be another good game to play (the ER would be at least 99.5% or greater). (For example, at a local casino that I play the royal flush on a dollar denomination 8/5 BP game recently was at $6100. This added a full one percent to the ER of the base game (99.17%), meaning the ER was at 100.17%, which gives the player an advantage in the game.)

 

The above ERs for Bonus Poker and Aces and Faces assume you play each hand perfectly. That is not as difficult as it first appears. For example, you can play any video poker game on your home computer, using video poker training software. When you make a playing error, the software will alert you and tell you what the correct play is. The software will also keep track of your playing accuracy. (You need to play with at least 99% accuracy before you risk any money in a casino, which is easy to achieve using the software.) In addition, you should always take a video poker strategy card with you when you play (they are casino legal). You can refer to the strategy card if you not sure how to play a particular hand. (You’ll find the video poker training software and strategy cards that I use when I teach video poker in my online catalog at www.smartgaming.com.)