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Aces Bonus Poker

Aces (or “Ace$”) Bonus Poker is an interesting variation of Bonus Poker, which is, in turn, a variation of Jacks or Better. The gimmick in this game has to do with the aces. Each of the aces is marked with one of the following letters:

  • A
  • C
  • E
  • $

If you’re dealt 4 aces, and if the aces spell ACE$, the hand pays out at 800 to 1 (just like a royal flush). This seems like a simple enough bonus gimmick, but it has serious implications for playing strategy. Here’s why:

In other video poker games, the order of the cards from left to right don’t matter. A royal flush is a royal flush regardless of where each card falls in position.

But in order to spell ACE$, the 4 aces must fall in positions 1234 or 2345. There are no other possibilities.

This creates interesting problems related to discerning the optimal playing strategy.

How to Play Ace$ Bonus Poker

Video poker games are played largely in the same way from one machine to the other, but there are variations based on which particular game you’re playing. One thing all legitimate video poker games have in common is that the random number generator—the computer program that determines the outcomes—emulates the same odds you’d see in a deck of 52 playing cards. (In some variations, there’s a 53rd card—the joker, but not in Ace$ Bonus Poker).

To start, you insert your money. The screen updates the number of credits you have available. You’re allowed to bet between 1 and 5 coins on each hand.

Pro Tip
Experienced video poker players know that you ALWAYS play for 5 coins per hand, because the top payout for the top hand is only available if you bet max coins. If you’ve played for 4 coins or less, you get a reduced payout on the top hand, which has serious implications for your payback percentage.

Once you’ve placed your bet, the computer deals you a 5 card hand. You then have the option of keeping or discarding each card in the hand. The computer replaces the cards you discard, and you get paid out based on the ranking of the hand—the game’s pay table is prominently displayed, so you’re able to see how much each hand is worth.

One of the major differences between video poker and slot machines is that the odds of getting a certain symbol on a certain line are known. On a slot machine game, a symbol might have a 1/10 probability of appearing or a 1/100 probability of appearing—or any number above or below that.

But in video poker games like Aces Bonus Poker, the odds are determined based on what you’d expect from a playing card. Since you know the payouts for each hand, and you can calculate the odds of hitting each hand, you can determine the expected payback percentage from the game. That math is hard to do with pencil and paper, but that’s what computers and calculators are for.

Below we’ve included information about the various pay tables available in this game and what the implications are for the player in terms of payback percentage. We follow that with some suggestions about how to use the optimal strategy to maximize your chances of winning.

Pay Tables

In most video poker games, the 800 to 1 payout is reserved for the royal flush, but in Aces Bonus Poker, if you get the right combination of 4 aces, you can get an 800 to 1 payout for it, too. The odds of getting that hand are even smaller than the odds of getting a royal flush, though. That’s because the cards have to fall in order.

Here, in general, is what you can expect these hands to pay:

Royal Flush and 4 Aces spelling “ACE$
These are the top paying hands, and they pay out at 800 to 1. In order to get this payout, you have to bet 5 coins per line, which means that the hand actually pays out 4000 coins on a 5 coin bet.
A Straight Flush
Pays out 40 to 1.
4 Aces
Pays out 80 to 1, with the exception of the above bonus payout.
4 of a Kind (2s, 3s, or 4s)
Pays out 40 to 1, just like a Straight Flush.
4 of a Kind (Any other)
Pays out 25 to 1.
Full House
Pays out at 8 to 1.
Pays out at 5 to 1.
Pays out at 4 to 1.
3 of a Kind
Pays out at 3 to 1.
2 Pairs
Pays out at 2 to 1.
Pair of Jacks or Better
Pays out even money.

This is considered the full pay version of the game. You can spot it because of the payouts for the full house and the flush, which pay out 8 to 1 and 5 to 1, respectively. Experts would call this an “8/5” game. When casinos and video poker designers want to adjust the payback percentage up and down on a video poker game, they usually do so by adjusting the payouts for these 2 hands. This holds true of almost all games based on Jacks or Better.

You’ll also find 7/5 and 6/5 versions of this game. These have lower payback percentages.

You’ll also find a version which pays 10/6, but the payout for 2 pairs has been reduced to an even money payout. This reduces the payback percentage significantly. (Many people would assume that a 10/6 game would be better than an 8/5 game, but the adjusted payout on 2 pairs has a bigger effect than you’d imagine.)

Other variations exist, too, but the best version is the 8/5 game.

Here’s what the actual pay table looks like on the screen for the full pay version:

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Remember—the lines to watch are the lines for the full house and the flush. If you see higher payouts for the full house and the flush, then look at the payouts for the lower hands, like 3 of a kind and 2 pairs. They’ll reduce the payout on those 2 hands to be able to afford the higher payout on the full house and the flush.

Aces Bonus Poker Payback Percentage & Odds

The payback percentage on a video poker game is calculated assuming that the player makes optimal decisions on every hand. But since Aces Bonus Poker is based on a deck of 52 cards, the odds of making each hand are known, so the overall payback percentage can be calculated.

Payback Percentages Explained

The payback percentage is the amount of each bet the casino expects to return to the player. It’s the opposite of the house edge, which is the amount the casino expects to retain from each hand. A game with a payback percentage of 99%, for example, has a house edge of 1%. (You subtract the payback percentage from 100% to get the house edge.)

The full pay version of this game has a payback percentage of 99.41%. This makes the game slightly less desirable than full pay Jacks or Better, which has a payback percentage of 99.54%. The novelty of the additional payout for the ACE$ hand might make giving up 0.14% in expectation worth it for some players, though.

The 7/5 version has a payback percentage of 98.26%, which is significantly lower. But it’s also still much better than the odds you’ll find on almost any slot machine on the casino floor.

The 6/5 version has a payback percentage of 97.1%. Compared to a slot machine, that’s great. But for video poker, we’re starting to get into high house edge territory.

You’d expect the 10/8 version to have a respectable payback percentage, but reducing the payout on 2 pairs hits the percentage hard. The payback percentage for this version is 96.01%. We’re edging into roulette territory with this one.

You’ll find other versions, too, but these are the best paying version of Aces Bonus Poker.

Playing Strategy

We consulted Michael Shackleford’s site for the correct playing strategy for this game. He offers instructions for how to account for the ACE$ hand using his generator on that page. The video poker strategy generator is also on his site, where you can input the payouts for various hands in order to get an appropriate strategy. You can find that generator here.

Once you’ve input the pay table for the game you’re playing, the strategy generator will spit out a list of hands. You’ll start at the top and stop when you get to a hand on that list. You’ll keep what the strategy chart says to keep and throw away the rest. (In some cases, like when you’ve been dealt a royal flush or 4 aces, you won’t throw anything away.)

Playing Ace$ Bonus Poker Online

To the best of our knowledge, no online casinos offer this game for free or for real money. Even VideoPoker.com seems to not have a free playable version of this game online. We suspect that this game is a little on the obscure side, and that’s why it’s hard to find online.

If you like the sound of this game, look for Bonus Poker or Double Bonus Poker or other variations at online casinos powered by Realtime Gaming, Microgaming, Playtech, or Rival Powered.


Aces (or Ace$) Bonus Poker is a fun video poker variant with a decent payout structure on some games. The strategy is a little more complicated than you’ll find for similar games, because you have to take into account the sequential aces bonus payout.

In other respects, this is quite similar to most other Bonus Poker variations. It’s much better than a slot machine, but you might have better luck with less interesting video poker variations which are easier to learn how to play correctly.

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