Build a Wheel Video Poker: Gameplay, Specifics, and Strategies

Build a Wheel

Build a Wheel video poker creates a new level of excitement in excess of what you could expect with normal video poker games. As you play, you have the opportunity to create a wheel of prizes that can then be accessed with a spin to see what you can get. With each hand you play, you can conceivably get closer and closer to serious bonuses on top of your regular winnings.

Most video poker games settle into one of two main groupings. On the one hand, there are the basic Jacks or Better games, which look a lot like common Five-Card Draw in the way that the hands are judged and in terms of the strategy you might employ. Then there are Bonus video poker games which create higher payouts for specific hands, creating more opportunities to earn quick, significant winnings.

Build a Wheel video poker finds a different way to amp up the excitement levels for players. The good news is that the gameplay, in terms of holding and discarding cards from your original hands, is essentially the same as it would be for regular video poker games. And you have your choice of which pay table you might like to play, running from the most common forms of Bonus poker, all the way to more exotic versions like Triple Double Bonus or Bonus Deuces Wild.

The excitement in Build a Wheel video poker comes when the player makes an extra five-coin bet to either his triple play of five-play hands. If you do this, you will have the chance, when you get certain combinations of cards, to fill in the spokes of a wheel, two of which are already filled in at the start of the game. Once you get to the point that all eight are filled in, you get to spin the wheel and pocket the bonus coins for whichever space you land on with your spin.

Prizes on the Build a Wheel video poker wheel run from several hundred coins to well over 10,000, since one of the pre-filled spaces on the wheel is a progressive jackpot, meaning that it will keep rising until somebody hits it. On top of that, you will also be offered "surrenders" after each time you fill in a spoke on the wheel. While the surrender value will be lower than what you could get by spinning the wheel, it gives you the chance to grab a bonus if you want to quit playing before you fill in all the spaces on the wheel.

Alas, if you don't fill up the spaces on the wheel, you could find that your bankroll diminishes quickly when playing Build a Wheel video poker and going for the wheel option. That's because you are betting a little more per hand but only getting paid the same amount as usual. As a result, the game might not be the right choice for a casual player who wants to play video poker for a short amount of time.

The following article will give you the lowdown on how Build a Wheel video poker works. We'll talk about basic gameplay (in case you're new to video poker), and we'll also explain the wheel option and the surrenders in-depth. Finally, we'll talk about strategy and whether or not you'll prefer this type of video poker based on its advantages and disadvantages.

Basic Video Poker Gameplay

Before you can get into the specifics of the wheel option in Build a Wheel video poker, you need to know how to play basic video poker. The good news is that it is a simple game to learn, made even easier if you've had any experience with Five-Card Draw or other types of poker. Video poker essentially simulates that common game and rewards you every time you manage to make a winning hand.

Let's walk you through a basic hand. After making your bet, the following five cards appear on the screen:

Two of Spades, Three of Spades, Four of Spades, Five of Spades, Five of Diamonds

Once you receive this deal, you will be tasked with deciding if you would like to discard one through all of the cards in your hands. Or, if you are pleased with the hand that you received, you could choose to keep them all. In this case, the five cards don't constitute any of the winning hands that pay off in video poker, so you'll be looking to discard.

On the one hand, you have a pair of fives. You could keep those and discard the other three in the group. That would give you a chance at winning hands like a two pair, a three of a kind, a full house, or a four of a kind.

But a closer look will reveal that you have a two through five of the same suit in your deal. With the ace of spades or the six of spades, you could make a straight flush, an extremely rare and high-paying hand in video poker. An ace or six of some other suit besides a spade would give you a straight if you kept the two through five in your original hand.

Let's say you decided to keep the four of spades, which is the wise choice based on probabilities. The draw comes and you receive an ace of spades. That gives you the following hand:

Ace of Spades, Two of Spades, Three of Spades, Four of Spades, Five of Spades

Five cards in a row of the same suit makes for a straight flush and a big payoff! Of course, that is an extremely rare hand in video poker. But it gives you the idea of how a hand works.

You might be able to tell from that there are some cool advantages to video poker. But there are others that you might not realize. Chief among these:

  • You can play at your own pace.
  • Your decisions have an outcome on the game.
  • Your expected payback from the machines are very competitive compared to other casino games.
  • Because of probabilities inherent in Five-Card Poker and pay tables that explain how much each winning hand pays, there isn't any guesswork about what you can expect from a machine.

How to Play Triple Play or Five Play Video Poker

Build a Wheel video poker offers you the chance to play in either triple play or five-play mode. You will essentially be playing three or five hands at a time. Here is how that works:

You would make a bet for each of the hands that you want to play, three or five. For example, you might want to play three hands and bet four coins per hand. That means that you would have to bet 12 coins (a coin is equal to whatever denomination the machine that you're playing might be).

Let's say you're playing triple play mode. You will receive one deal which governs all three hands. Imagine you receive the following deal:

Jack of Spades, Jack of Hearts, Queen of Spades, King of Diamonds, Ace of Clubs

You decide that your best play would be to keep the two jacks. At that point, the computer will deal out three different draws from decks which have only 47 cards remaining, since the cards you've been dealt are already out of play. Let's say you get the following three hands:

  • Jack of Spades, Jack of Hearts, Two of Clubs, King of Hearts, King of Spades
  • Jack of Spades, Jack of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, Two of Clubs, Three of Diamonds
  • Jack of Spades, Jack of Hearts, Three of Diamonds, Seven of Clubs, Ten of Diamonds

As you can see, two of the hands improved to a two pair and a three of a kind, while the third did not. You would get paid off for the two winning hands. You can also see that the three of diamonds and two of clubs showed up in multiple draws, since three different decks are used for the draw.

Five play would work the same way, only this time with a single deal leading to five different draws. You would also have to wager on five different hands in that case.

How the Wheel Works

We've now explained the basic video poker play aspect of Build a Wheel video poker, and we've also showed you how multiple play works. Now it's time to get into what separates the game from other video poker variants you might play. And that, of course, is the wheel option.

First off, the wheel in Build a Wheel video poker only comes into play if you have bet an extra five coins above the normal wager. Since it's always advised that you bet the maximum amount on each hand, that would mean 20 coins for triple play (15 5) and 30 coins for five play (25 5). If you choose, you can simply play the games without the wheel function and make the normal wagers.

Build a Wheel How the Wheel Works

In Build a Wheel video poker, the wheel automatically comes with two of the eight spaces filled. One space is for a bonus of 4,000 coins, and the other is for a progressive jackpot that resets at 10,000 coins and goes up from there each time the game is played without it being hit.

The remaining six spots on the wheel are for you to fill in as you play. To do this, you need to receive certain hands on the deal. This is important to note, because if you only get these hands on the draw, they will not fill in the spaces.

Here are the hands that will fill spaces on the deal and how many spaces they will fill in:

  • Three of a Kind: One Space
  • Straight: One Space
  • Flush: One Space
  • Full House: All Remaining Spaces
  • Four of a Kind: All Remaining Spaces
  • Straight Flush: All Remaining Spaces
  • Royal Flush: All Remaining Spaces

As for the values that these hands will activate on the wheel, those numbers are random, except for the royal flush and straight flush, which will fill out the remaining spaces with payoffs of 4,000 coins each. The others are generally weighted toward the probability of receiving each hand, with the easiest hands offering the lowest in coin values, on average.

Still, you can expect anywhere from around 600 to over 2,000 coins to go into each space when you receive one of the qualifying hands (other than the straight flush and royal flush.) If you continue to play, you will fill in the pieces of the wheel until it is complete. Once the wheel is fully complete, you get your chance to spin.

Again, the spin is also random. But Build a Wheel video poker is set up in such a way that it will be rarer for your spin to land on either of the preset spaces (with jackpots of 4,000 coins and the 10,000-coin progressive). Still, you can be assured that playing with the wheel option will benefit you in the long haul, as you'll find out when we get to the section about payback percentages.

Surrender Option

Obviously, it might take you a relatively long amount of time to get to the point where you have filled in the remaining six spaces on the wheel so that you can spin and win big. Not everyone will have that kind of time, or that kind of bankroll, to sit at a machine, or play online, for that extended period of time. Luckily, Build a Wheel video poker gives you a way to benefit from the spaces you have already managed to fill.

Once you have filled in at least one space (besides the pre-filled spaces), you will be offered a chance to surrender at the end of each hand. Based on the equity (amount of coins in the spaces) you have achieved to that point, you will be offered by the machine a certain amount of coins to, in essence, buy you out.

Build a Wheel Surrender Option

How many coins will you be offered? Well, there is no set amount. But estimates place the surrender totals at a little bit more than 10 percent or so of the amount of coins that you have built up in the spaces you have filled to that point.

For example, imagine that you have filled in one space with 700 coins and another with around 900 coins. The other four spaces on the wheel remain unfilled. The machine might offer you a little bit more than 160 coins, which is 10 percent of 1,600 (700 900), to quit playing.

In this way, you can walk away with something even if you come up short of filling in the whole wheel. The strategy on this part of the game is tricky, but most assessments seem to agree that playing Build a Wheel video poker until you fill out the entire wheel would be best for your overall payback. Still, this isn't possible for many people, so at least the surrender option will let you recoup something for your hard work partially filling in the wheel.

Build a Wheel Video Poker and Volatility

When you mention the word volatility in terms of any casino game, it refers to the potential swings in wins and losses you will incur during an average session of play. Low-volatility games generally allow you to play for a long time with a minimal bankroll because you will win enough to stay afloat. High-volatility games will offer you the opportunity for huge winnings, but these opportunities will be rare and, as a result, your bankroll can fall quickly.

Build a Wheel video poker is a high-volatility brand of video poker. For one, the wheel option can only be added to bonus-style games, which are already high in volatility to start. The payoff for bonus games are generally higher for rare hands like a four of a kind, but lower for common hands, which are the hands that help to sustain long-term gameplay.

On top of that, if you play with the wheel element, you are adding an extra layer of volatility. That's because the payoffs for winning hands are based on wagers of one through five coins. But you will have added to those wagers just to potentially play the wheel, meaning that your return on winning hands will be diminished.

Of course, if you are lucky enough to fill in one, several, or best yet, all of the spaces on the wheel, you can make up for a lot of that volatility with a huge payoff. But it may require you to go in with a significant payroll for you to get to that point.

Different Games Available with Build a Wheel Video Poker

It might be easier to understand Build a Wheel video poker if you think of it as a feature. This feature can be laid on top of the core video poker games that many are used to playing. And there are several of these games from which you can choose.

Here are the titles from which you can choose to play on a typical Build a Wheel video poker machine:

  • Bonus Poker
  • Bonus Deluxe Poker
  • Double Bonus Poker
  • Double Double Bonus Poker
  • Triple Double Bonus Poker
  • Deuces Wild Poker
  • Bonus Deuces Wild Poker

Each of these games contains several different pay tables which distinguish them. In most cases, the payouts for four of a kind hands are boosted on the bonus games from what they are in common Jacks or Better video poker. For the Deuces Wild games, a wild card aspect puts hands like five of a kind into play.

To each of these games is attached a specific payout percentage. The payout percentage is the average return that you can expect from the game if you play it while making the mathematically correct decision on what to hold and what to discard every single hand. Keep in mind that it's only an average, and your own experience with it might be quite different.

For example, you might play a machine with a 99% payout percentage listed, which means that, on average, $1,000 put into the machine would bring you back $990, or a $10 loss. But when you put $1,000 into it in a single session, you might hit a couple of royal flushes in your first few hands, which would ensure you a big profit. Or, you could possibly have a rough session and walk away $500 down from where you began.

But, if you played the game often and put more and more money into it, eventually the payback would come relatively close to that 99% number. Knowing the game and pay table also means that you can look up the payback percentage and find the variations on video poker that are most beneficial to you.

It gets trickier with Build a Wheel video poker, because there are different percentages for whether you are playing with or without the wheel in play. There are also different percentages depending upon whether you play three or five hands. The following chart is a quick roundup of all those variables:

2s Wild 25 / 16 / 10 / 4 / 4 / 3 99.73 percent 99.74 percent 99.73 percent
Bonus Deluxe 9/6 99.64 percent 99.67 percent 99.66 percent
Trip Dbl Bonus 9/7 99.58 percent 99.62 percent 99.61 percent
Bonus 2s Wild 9 / 4 / 4 / 3 99.45 percent 99.53 percent 99.50 percent
Bonus Poker 8/5 99.17 percent 99.32 percent 99.27 percent
Double Bonus 9/7 99.11 percent 99.27 percent 99.22 percent
Bonus 2s Wild 8 / 4 / 4 / 3 99.06 percent 99.24 percent 99.18 percent
Dbl Dbl Bonus 9/6 98.98 percent 99.18 percent 99.11 percent
2s Wild 25/15/9/4/4/3 98.91 percent 99.13 percent 99.06 percent
Bonus 2s Wild 13 / 4 / 3 / 3 98.80 percent 99.04 percent 98.96 percent
Bonus Deluxe 9/5 98.55 percent 98.85 percent 98.75 percent
Bonus Deluxe 8/6 98.49 percent 98.81 percent 98.70 percent
Bonus 2s Wild 12 / 4 / 3 / 3 98.28 percent 98.65 percent 98.54 percent
Trip Dbl Bonus 9/6 98.15 percent 98.56 percent 98.42 percent
Bonus Poker 7/5 98.01 percent 98.45 percent 98.31 percent
Dbl Dbl Bonus 8/6 97.89 percent 98.36 percent 98.21 percent
Dbl Dbl Bonus 9/5 97.87 percent 98.35 percent 98.19 percent
Double Bonus 9/6 97.81 percent 98.30 percent 98.13 percent
Double Bonus 9/7 97.74 percent 98.25 percent 98.08 percent
2s Wild 20 / 12 / 10 / 4 / 4 / 3 97.58 percent 98.13 percent 97.94 percent
Bonus Deluxe 8/5 97.40 percent 97.99 percent 97.80 percent
Trip Dbl Bonus 9/5 97.02 percent 97.71 percent 97.48 percent
Bonus Poker 6/5 96.87 percent 97.59 percent 97.35 percent
Dbl Dbl Bonus 8/5 96.79 percent 97.53 percent 97.28 percent
2s Wild 25 / 16 / 13 / 4 / 3 / 2 96.77 percent 97.52 percent 97.27 percent
Double Bonus 9/6 96.38 percent 97.22 percent 96.94 percent

To learn a little bit more about the numbers under the pay table column, it's a good idea to look up the games in question on our video poker section. Basically, the numbers refer to the odds for certain winning hands. For example, 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker is a game that pays off 9 to 1 for a full house and 6 to 1 for a flush.

When you explore the chart more closely, you will notice that the best possible way that you can play Build a Wheel video poker is to activate the wheel function with max bets and play the triple play version. But the differences are slight between that and the five-play version of the game.

Keep in mind that the more coins that you play each hand, the higher the volatility will be. But your chances for maxing out your payback in the long run and grabbing bonus payoffs in the short run is greater if you try to fill in that wheel.

Strategy for Build a Wheel Video Poker

It is impossible to nail down a single strategy for Build a Wheel video poker because the game can be played with so many different pay tables. Since you should always tailor your strategy, in terms of holds and discards for each hand, to the pay table, you can't really know what that strategy will be until you've settled on that specific game. Your best bet is to go through our tutorials for each of the games that we've mentioned.

Once you've done that, you just need to decide on your wagers and whether or not you are activating the wheel feature. Remember that you should always bet five coins per hand, because that is the only way that you can get the highest-proportioned payoff for the royal flush, which is the ultimate hand in video poker.

And, as we've mentioned above, you should try to play the triple play version of Build a Wheel video poker and activate the wheel option. In addition, you should play all the way through until all of the spaces are filled and you can spin the wheel, rather than surrendering for a lesser amount.

A lot of your strategy may depend on your bankroll. It also could depend on whether or not you want to go for broke, or you're happy walking away with some return on your investment. In any case, here are some of the reasons you might like Build a Wheel video poker, followed by a few reasons you might avoid it.

Reasons to Play

  • The wheel option spices up gameplay.
  • You have your choice of several different core games to play, either with or without the wheel.
  • Even if you want to leave before filling in all the spaces, you can get something for your efforts with the surrender option.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Betting so many coins to activate the wheel and play multiple play is expensive.
  • Without filling in the wheel pieces, your bankroll can disappear quickly.
  • No Jacks or Better option for more conservative players.


Build a Wheel video poker also builds excitement when you see that wheel starting to fill up. The anticipation when you get close to spinning can really be a rush. Just be advised that it might take you a long time, and lot of money, to get to that big spin.

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