Double Pay Poker
Most video poker games are just Jacks or Better (or some other video poker variant) with a single modification layered on top of the gameplay. Double Pay Poker is no exception. It works just like other video poker games, only in Double Pay Poker, you get paid on the initial deal and on the hand you wind up with after the draw.
To activate this 2nd payout, you're required to wager twice - once for the possible payout on your initial hand, and once for the possibly payout on the hand you wind up with after drawing. Since the payoff for the initial hand has nothing to do with any decisions you make, that phase of the game offers no opportunity for strategy.
The game is unusual now - most players who play find it at the Bellagio or the Mirage in Las Vegas.
This page examines in detail how to play Double Play Poker, how the pay tables work, and how to use strategy to get the most out of this game. Our goal is to offer you a comprehensive guide, so you won't need to read any other guide to this game on the internet.
The Basics of Double Pay Poker: How to Play
If you've never played video poker, you'll need to understand the basics of VP gameplay before you can tackle Double Pay Poker. Luckily, VP games aren't that hard to understand. There are some subtleties to be aware of, though.
The first thing you need to understand about video poker games like Double Pay Poker is that they're not slot machines - even though they look like slot machines. The differences are subtle but important.
Both games use a random number generator to display symbols on a video screen across a payline. On a slot machine game, these symbols are arbitrarily chosen. They usually represent the game's theme, but they're often more generic - like cherries, bars, or dollar symbols.
But on a video poker game, the symbols are based on playing cards. The distinction is important because the probability of getting each symbol in Double Pay Poker is based on the probability of getting that specific playing card in a standard deck of 52 (or 53) cards.
With slot machine games, the probability of getting a specific symbol could be anything. We know that the probability of being dealt the ace of spades from a deck of cards is 1/52. But the probability of getting a cherry on a payline on a slot machine might be 1/64, 1/32, or 1/8 - you have no way of knowing.
The payback percentage for the game is the average amount the casino mathematically expects to pay its players in winnings over the long run. It's expressed as a percentage, and it's almost always under 100%.
You're playing a gambling machine with a payback percentage of 94%. Every time you bet a dollar, the casino expects to pay you 94 cents in winnings. They expect you to lose 6 cents.
This is an average over an extended period, and it's based on the probability of getting the various winning combinations multiplied by the payout for each of those combinations. We'll get into more detail about that later.
But the important thing is that with a slot machine, you're missing half the information you need to calculate the game's payback percentage. You know the prize amounts, but you don't know the probability of winning.
Since a deck of cards has known probabilities, you can calculate the probability and the payback percentage.
The other difference between slot machines and video poker games like Double Pay Poker is the relative attractiveness of the odds. Most slot machine games pay back 95% or less. In some areas of the country, 75% to 80% is the standard.
But video poker games, including Double Pay Poker, have payback percentages starting at 95% and going up from there.
You might have read all this and thought, "when are you going to tell me how to play Double Pay Poker?"
The answer, dear reader, is now.
To start, you insert money into the Double Pay Poker machine. It converts this money into credits based on the denomination of the machine. Common video poker denominations include 25 cents, $1, and $5.
You then choose how many credits you want to risk on each hand. In standard video poker games, you can choose between 1 and 5 coins. You should always bet 5 coins in video poker.
But it only pays off 800 for 1 if you place the max bet. If you place a bet of between 1 and 4 coins, the hand only pays off at 200 for 1 or 250 for 1, depending on the machine. That's a big enough difference in payoff that it makes it worthwhile to step down in betting limits rather than bet fewer than max coins.
Double Pay Poker, though, requires you to place bets on both the initial hand and the hand after the draw. You should, therefore, bet 10 coins per hand.
You're playing a quarter (25 cent) machine. You insert $100, so you have 400 credits. You bet max coin on Double Pay Poker, so you have 5 credits bet on your initial hand, and you have 5 credits bet on your final hand. Since a credit on this game is 25 cents, you have $1.25 in action on each hand, or $2.50 in action total.
After you've placed your wager, the game deals you a 5-card hand. In standard video poker games, you would then decide which cards to hold. Then the game would deal you replacement cards, and you'd get paid based on the poker hand you wind up with.
But in Double Pay Poker, you get a payoff on the initial hand. The game proceeds as normal after the initial payoff - you still decide which cards to keep and which cards to throw away.
This element of skill is another distinction between video poker and slot machines. When you're playing slots, you have no decisions to make which have any effect on your outcome.
Double Pay Poker has 2 pay tables - the first is for your initial hand. These payouts are higher than you'd normally see, because they're based on a different set of probabilities - the probabilities of getting these hands with drawing to improve your hand.
The 2nd pay table is a standard pay table for whatever video poker variation the Double Pay option has been placed on top of.
The payouts are based on the standard rankings of poker hands, but you're not playing against other players with other hands. You just get paid off based on the payoff for a specific hand.
In the next section, we'll detail some of the common pay tables and variations available at Double Pay Poker. We'll also examine how these pay tables determine the theoretical payback percentage for the game.
Odds, Probability, Payback Percentages, and Double Pay Poker Pay Tables
Common video poker pay tables used for Double Pay Poker include the following games:
We have other pages on this site explaining each of those games in detail, too, but we'll offer some examples below, too.
Let's look at a standard pay table for Deuces Wild that's commonly used for your initial hand:
|Hand/Coins||1 coin||2 coins||3 coins||4 coins||5 coins|
|Wild royal flush||100||200||300||400||500|
|5 of a kind||50||100||150||200||250|
|4 of a kind||12||24||36||48||60|
|3 of a kind||2||4||6||8||10|
|Pair of queens+||1||2||3||4||5|
We explained earlier that the way to calculate the payback percentage for the game is to look at the probability of getting each result and multiplying it by the payout. You add all those up to get the overall expected return for the game.
Here's an example using the above pay table:
56.8% of the time, you'll get a hand that wins nothing. That result has an expected return of 0. This is also good to know, because it gives you an idea of the game's hit frequency. You'll see a win of some kind on your initial hand 42.2% of the time. This means that out of every 5 hands, you'll see 2 winners and 3 losers. That's a win happening often enough that it keeps most players interested.
A pair of queens or better comes up 21.1% of the time. Since it pays off at even money (1 for 1), the expected return is 21.1%.
2 pair is relatively rare, only coming up 3.7% of the time. (One of the reasons it's relatively rare in this game is because of the wild cards - 3 of a kind is more common.) It pays off at 2 for 1, so you multiply 2 by 3.7% to get 7.4%.
3 of a kind has the same payoff, 2 for 1, but comes up 13.67% of the time. The expected value for this payout is 27.24%.
And so on, to the top of the pay table. When you add all those up, you get an overall expected return of 96.15% for this game.
But that's only the payback percentage for the payoff on the initial deal. There's another pay table for the hand after you draw, and it's usually within 1% or so of the other pay table. Here's an example Deuces Wild table you might see on the hand after the draw:
|Hand/Coins||1 coin||2 coins||3 coins||4 coins||5 coins|
|Wild royal flush||25||50||75||100||125|
|5 of a kind||16||32||48||64||80|
|4 of a kind||4||8||12||16||20|
|3 of a kind||1||2||3||4||5|
The first thing you're likely to notice about this pay table compared to the other pay table is the lower payout for each hand. You'll probably also notice that there's no payout at all for 2 pairs or a pair of queens or better. The reason for both these changes is the same:
You've had the opportunity to improve your hand by discarding the cards you don't want.
That's also important to the next point we need to make about this pay table. The payback percentage for this version of the game is 97.09%.
But that's only the payback percentage if you're making mathematically optimal decisions about which cards to keep and which cards to throw away. Remember, we talked about the role of skill in the game. In this respect, video poker games resemble blackjack games.
The decisions you make matter, but the house still has an edge over the player. The more skilled you are as a player, the less of an edge the house has.
It's a rare video poker game that offers a perfect strategy player an edge over the house. Some variations of Deuces Wild, when played perfectly, have a payback percentage of 100.17%--giving you a tiny edge over the house.
But you won't ever see that pay table on a Double Pay Poker game. You'll rarely see that pay table at all, in fact.
If you have a little bit of card sense, you'll probably make good decisions much of the time. But if you don't spend any time learning the appropriate strategy, you're going to lose at least 1% of your payback percentage - maybe more.
We always suggest that you stick with video poker games offering a 99% payback percentage or higher. Most variations of Double Pay Poker don't qualify. Here's a list of the common payback percentages for the variations of Double Pay Poker that are most commonly available:
- Double Pay Deuces Wild- 96.15% or 97.84%
- Double Pay Double Bonus- 96.15% or 97.65%
- Double Pay Double Double Bonus- 96.63% or 97.42%
- Double Pay Triple Double Bonus- 96.63% or 97.42%
You'll notice that none of these payback percentages even hit 98%. We sometimes play 98% payback video poker games if we can't find a pay table that pays off at 99% or better, but we don't recommend it. Most players aren't as aggressive as we are.
Double Pay Poker Strategy Tips
All video poker games require strategy, but Double Pay Poker doesn't have a different strategy than the base versions of the game.
The first strategy decision to make is to choose the game with the best payback percentage or the one you're most familiar with. You're better off playing Double Pay Double Bonus than Double Pay Deuces Wild if you know the strategy for Double Bonus better than you know the strategy for Deuces Wild.
The next set of strategy decisions you'll make will be based on which cards you're dealt and which ones you should keep. You can refer to the pages for each of the base games for specific strategies for those games.
Here's how a video poker strategy chart works, though:
You'll have a list of hands. You'll start at the top of that list and compare the hand you've been dealt with that hand. If they match, you'll hold those cards. Otherwise you'll move to the 2nd hand on the list. You'll continue down the strategy chart list until you get to a hand which matches the hand you've been dealt. Those are the cards you hold.
Find Double Pay Poker Online or Offline, for Real Money or for Free
Double Pay Poker games are generally not available at online casinos, but that's not such a big deal. After all, the payouts for the game aren't so great. Most online casinos we're familiar with offer payback percentages on their video poker games of at least 98%.
A free version of Double Pay Poker is available online at VideoPoker.com. If you want to get a feel for how the game plays before playing in a live casino, you can try the game there. Since it's a free version, it costs no money to play - the game just uses the equivalent of Monopoly money. You also can't win any real money, which is one of the drawbacks to this game.
Double Pay Poker is no longer commonly found in casinos offline, either. As near as we can tell, the only places where you can play these games are in Mississippi, at the Treasure Bay Resort Casino, and in Las Vegas at the Bellagio and the Mirage.
Double Pay Poker is an interesting variation of video poker that hasn't really caught on. We're not sure why, exactly, but maybe it's because the payback percentages aren't high enough to make the game more attractive. Or maybe VP players in general just prefer games with more of a skill element.
If you want to play Double Pay Poker for a change of pace, we won't judge you. But we don't recommend making it a staple of your video poker play, either. Stick with the games and pay tables with the higher payback percentages for that.