Gambling Tips > Video Poker

A Quick Primer on Mult-Strike Poker - Part 2

By Henry Tamburin


Last month, I went over the basics of how to play Multi-Strike. To summarize, Multi-Strike is a four-line video poker game where each line is played sequentially, starting with the bottom line. You begin by wagering 20 coins (five-coin max bet on each line). After you receive five cards to the bottom line, you click on which cards you want to hold, hit the draw button, and receive replacement cards for the cards you discarded. You must have a winning hand on the bottom line (e.g., at least a high pair if you are playing Jacks or Better) to advance to the second line. You play out the second line similarly to the first line from a new deck of cards, and any win on the second line is doubled and allows you to advance to the third line. Likewise, you play the third line (again, from a new deck of cards), and any win on the third line is quadrupled, advancing you to the fourth and final line. All winning hands on Line 4 are multiplied by eight. If you lose on the first line, you’ll lose the entire initial 20 coins that you bet at the start of the game (this will occur about 50% of the time, which doesn’t seem fair but keep reading). If you lose on the second through fourth lines, your final payoff is the sum of all the payoffs for each line that you won (i.e., you get to keep the money you won on the preceding hands). Multi-Strike also features “free rides” that pop up randomly on any line. When you get a “free ride” symbol, you automatically can advance to the next line, even if you didn’t get a winning hand.

 

To see how the payoffs work, suppose you got the following winning hands on each line of a Jacks or Better Multi-Strike game (assuming you wagered five quarters or $1.25 on each line for a total initial wager of $6.00).

 

Line

Result

Payout

Multiplier

Total Won

1

High Pair

$1.25

1

$1.25

2

Two Pair

$2.50

2

$5.00

3

Full House

$11.25

4

$45.00

4

Flush

$7.50

8

$60.00

 

On the first line, you got a high pair, and won five coins (or $1.25).
On the second line, you ended up with two pair and won 10 coins. Any win on the second line is doubled; therefore, you won 2 x 10 coins or 20 coins ($5.00).
On the third line, you got a full house that pays 45 coins. The latter is multiplied by 4, giving you a 180-coin win ($45).
Finally, on Line 4, you got a flush, that pays 30 coins. The latter is multiplied by 8, giving a very nice payout of $60.
Your total winnings on this round amounted to the sum of all the money you won on each line, which in the above example was $111.25. (If you failed to advance to Line 4, then your total winnings would be the sum of what you won on lines 1, 2, and 3 or $51.25.)

 

To reiterate, the objective of Multi-Strike is to advance from one line to the next where the payoffs increase without any extra cost. Therefore, in order to maximize your chance of advancing from one line to the next, you want to make playing decisions that have a high frequency of yielding a winning hand. This requires a change in the traditional playing strategy (which is geared to maximizing your profit potential on any hand) to a strategy that increases your chance of winding up with a winning hand even if it’s “less profitable”. For example, suppose you are playing Line 1 and are dealt the following hand:

 

1   2  3  4   5 

 

The most profitable play for traditional Jacks or Better is to hold the low pair over the two unsuited high cards. However, we are more interested in holding the cards that is more likely to get us a winning hand and advancement to Line 2; therefore, in the above example the preferred play is hold the two unsuited high cards over the low pair.

 

Generally, as you move from one line to the next, your playing strategy will get closer to the traditional full-pay playing strategy for whatever game you are playing. In fact, you should always use the traditional playing strategy on Line 4 and on any line that you get a “free ride.” (That’s because you are playing stand-alone hands on Line 4 and any line with a ‘free ride.”)

 

Most of the time on Lines 1, 2, and 3 you will be using the traditional basic playing strategy. (For example, for 9/6 Jacks or Better, here’s the breakdown: 86% of all hands on Line 1, 88% for Line 2, and 95% on Line 3.) However, the rest of the time there are changes to the playing strategy that you need to make to play optimally. A few examples of these changes are as follows: on Line 1, you should hold two unsuited or suited high cards over a low pair, and never hold a suited picture card with a 10 (just hold the picture card); on Line 2, you should hold a low pair over a four-card flush containing no high cards; and on Line 3, you should hold a single high card in preference to a four-card straight with no high cards.

 

Keep in mind that the above is just a sampling of the strategy changes you should make when you play Multi-Strike. You really need to become familiar with all the strategy changes for each Line. You’ll find Multi-Strike playing strategies for different games on these sites: 9/6 Jacks or Better in an article by Bob Dancer on  www.readybetgo.com/video-poker/strategy/multi-strike-poker-1384.html, 9/6 Jacks or Better and 9/7 Double Bonus at www.gamemasteronline, and Full Pay Deuces Wild and 9/6 Jacks or Better at www.wizardofodds.com. (Just navigate to the video poker page on these sites.)

 

Summary

 

  1. You’ll find many different games on a Multi-Strike machine (Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, etc). It behooves you to play only the full pay versions of each game. (To find which casinos in different regions of US offer the full pay versions, go to www.vpfree2.com. In addition, check the Best Video Poker page at www.lasvegasadvsior.com for casinos in the Las Vegas area that offer Multi-Strike.)
  2. Always play four lines at max coins. (However, read #9 below.)
  3. You have to win the previous line in order to advance to the next line. Therefore, you should not use the conventional playing strategy for lines 1, 2, and 3 on every hand (this is a big mistake). You must learn the strategy changes for each line.
  4. Roughly half the time you will lose 20 coins on the first line (meaning you won’t even get a high pair), and this could happen on successive hands. Therefore, you need more bankroll when you play Multi-Strike (and play with stakes that you feel comfortable with).
  5. The ER for any game on Multi-Strike played correctly is roughly 0.15 to 0.30% greater than the ER for a single-line game (e.g., for 9/6 Jacks or Better, the ER increases from 99.54% to 99.79%). However, the game is more difficult to play because you have to learn the strategy changes for Lines 1, 2, and 3.
  6. Multi-Strike is included in the Video Poker for Winners training software. As you practice playing Multi-Strike on your home computer with the software, it will alert you when you make a playing mistake. This is an excellent tool to hone your playing skills on each line before you risk any money playing in a casino.
  7. If you want to play a demo version of Multi-Strike, go to www.ledgaming.com (this practice game won’t alert you when you make playing mistakes but it will allow to get a feel on how the game plays).
  8. You have to concentrate more when you play Multi-Strike. Have a handy strategy sheet with you that you can refer to if you forget what strategy to use for any hand on lines 1, 2, and 3. Train yourself to remember to switch to the conventional basic playing strategy when a “free ride” pops up on lines 1, 2, and 3 (and always on Line 4).
  9. The short-term volatility can be very daunting for players. If losing a lot of money quickly isn’t your cup of tea, I’d suggest playing Multi-Strike for lower stakes with a stop loss, or playing only three lines instead of four. (To do the latter, you should read pages 185 and 186 in the book, Frugal Video Poker, by Jean Scott and Viktor Nacht, because playing only three lines requires a shift in playing strategy, which is explained in the book)
  10. There are other versions of Multi-Strike, such as Five Play Multi-Strike and Super Times Pay Multi-Strike. (These games will give your bankroll an even wilder ride.)