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Black Jack Bonus Poker

Black Jack Bonus Poker is a video poker variation that uses a standard (albeit virtual) deck of 52 cards. 2 of those 52 cards are wild cards—the eponymous black jacks. Contrary to what you might think because of the game’s name, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the game of blackjack or the number 21.

How to Play Black Jack Bonus Poker

For the most part, Black Jack Bonus Poker is played like any other video poker variation. You’re dealt 5 virtual cards on a computer monitor. You’re then given the option to hold or discard any combination of those 5 cards. You can keep all of them, discard all of them, or anything in between.

Your bets get paid off at odds determined by the pay table. Unlike slot machine games, in video poker games, you can calculate the odds of getting a paying combination on the screen. All VP games, including Black Jack Bonus Poker, use the same probabilities as a standard deck of cards. In some games, this means 52 cards, while in others, it means 53—in those latter games, a joker is added to the deck as a wild card.

You have the option of betting between 1 and 5 coins per hand, but you should ignore all the options except for the 5 coin bet. That’s because there’s a significantly higher payoff for the top-paying hand if you’re playing for 5 coins. For 4 coins or fewer, the royal flush only pays off 250 to 1. But if you’ve placed a 5 coin bet, you get paid off 800 to 1 for that hand.

Making the 2 black jacks wild creates new complexities in this game. You can wind up with certain hands that wouldn’t be available in a video poker game without wild cards, but there are other hands which are impossible. For example, a 5 of a kind is a possible hand in this game, but since you need a wild jack to make up 5 of a kind, it’s impossible to have a hand of 5 jacks.

One of the notable differences you’ll find in wild card video poker games is that 2 pairs only pays off at even odds. (In non-wild card games like Jacks or Better, that hand usually pays off at 2 to 1.) But you also still get an even odds payoff for a pair of jacks or higher—that’s not true of all wild card video poker games.

Black Jack Bonus Poker Pay Table and Odds

If you play with perfect strategy and find the version of this game with the best possible pay table, you face a house edge of about 1.9%. Another way to put that is to say that the payback percentage for the game is 98.1%.

The house edge is the amount of each bet that the casino expects to win in the long run. (And make no mistake, the long run is longer than you think—we’re talking about tens of thousands of hands here.) So if you’re playing for $5 per hand, the casino expects to win an average of 1.9% of $5 on each hand, or 9.5 cents per hand.

That doesn’t sound like much, does it?

But think about how many hands per hour the average VP player goes through—600 per hour. That adds up to 600 X 9.5 cents, or $57 per hour.

The payback percentage just represents the opposite of the house edge. It’s the amount on average that the casino expects to pay back on every hand over the long run. In this case, the casino expects to pay you an average of about $4.90 in winnings for every $5 bet you place.

How do you and the casino calculate these numbers?

It’s easier than you think. You take the payoff for each hand and multiply it by the likelihood of achieving that hand. That’s the expected value of each of those potential results. When you add all those expected values together, you get the overall expected return (the payback percentage) for the game.

Example:

  • You’ll see a final hand of a pair of jacks about 21.6% of the time. The payoff for that hand is even money, or 1. You multiply 1 X 21.6% for an expected value of 21.6%.
  • You’ll see 2 pairs about 11.8% of the time. That also pays off at even odds, or 1. That’s an expected value of 11.8%.
  • You’ll see 3 of a kind about 7.5% of the time, but the payoff for this hand is significantly better—3 to 1. You multiply 3 by 7.5%, and you get 22.5%.

Those 3 hands make up a significant portion of the payback percentage for the machine, as follows:

A pair of jacks or better21.6%
2 pairs11.8%
3 of a kind22.5%
Total55.9%

You can continue these calculations for every hand. Plenty of sites have already done the numbers for you, though. The trick is finding a game with the correct pay table and then using the correct strategy for that game.

Here’s the best pay table you can find for Black Jack Bonus Poker:

  • Royal flush – 800 to 1
  • Four aces + a black jack – 800 to 1
  • Four 2s, 3s or 4s + a black jack – 400 to 1
  • Four 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, Js, Qs or Ks – 160 to 1
  • Four aces or jacks – 160 to 1
  • Four 2s, 3s or 4s – 80 to 1
  • Straight flush – 50 to 1
  • Four 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, Qs or Ks – 25 to 1
  • Full house – 9 to 1
  • Flush – 6 to 1
  • Straight – 4 to 1
  • 3 of a kind – 3 to 1
  • Two Pair – even odds
  • Jacks or Better – even odds

As with Jacks or Better, the pay tables for Black Jack Bonus Poker vary based on the payouts for the full house and the flush. The full pay version pays off at 9 to 1 for a full house and 6 to 1 for a flush. You might also find machines that only pay off at 8 to 1 for a full house. Those machines are called 8/6 machines, and they have a payback percentage of 97.09%. (Another way of putting this is to say that the house edge is 2.91%.

Proper Strategy

The correct strategy for this game, as with any other video poker game, is to make the playing decision with the highest expected value for every single hand. This is almost impossible to calculate mentally in some cases, but luckily, you can just use a strategy chart for the game.

Here’s how a video poker strategy chart works:

You start at the top and look for a hand description that matches the hand you’ve been dealt. You stop when you get to a hand that matches yours, then you keep the cards in that hand.

It’s that simple.

We weren’t able to find any accurate strategy charts for this game, though. The fact that only the black jacks are wild changes the strategy significantly, and we couldn’t find a strategy calculator which would take this into account.

That being said, some general tips about strategy apply to this game:

  • You never discard a wild card, so you should always hold on to any black jacks in your hand.
  • You should almost always draw to a royal flush if you have 4 of the cards necessary to make that hand, but you will rarely draw to a royal flush if you only have 3 of the cards necessary.
  • Try to let the machine deal you a winning hand. You will almost never discard a hand that’s a sure winner in order to try to improve to a better hand.
  • The only exceptions to that last tip are when you’re trying to draw to a royal flush or to 4 aces plus a black jack, which is really 5 of a kind—aces.

Black Jack Bonus Poker Online

Black Jack Bonus Poker is an unusual game to find offline, much less in an online casino. We were unable to find any Internet casinos offering this variation.

But we did find a site with a free version of this game that you can play. The site is VideoPoker.com, and they offer free versions of almost every VP game imaginable. The site monetizes itself with subscriptions, which gives you access to all the games they have.

But you can’t play for real money there.

We have mixed feelings about free video poker games. On one hand, they can be a great way to practice for a trip to an actual land-based casino, because the more realistic versions will give you a familiarity with how the controls work for the game so that you won’t make any dumb mistakes.

On the other hand, video poker is a gambling game, and if you’re not risking any money—and you can’t win any money—the whole exercise is pointless.

Our Recommendation
Our advice is to spend a limited amount of time playing such free games. You can enjoy them if you like, but we think their best use is to prepare yourself for real gambling.

If this game sounds attractive to you, we might suggest trying Deuces Wild, which is available at a number of online casinos that we can recommend. Our favorite for this game is Bovada, which offers an excellent pay table with a payback percentage that’s actually better than the 9/6 full pay version of Black Jack Bonus Poker.

Another option is to play Bonus Poker, which is available at almost any online casino we recommend on this site. The difference between Bonus Poker and Deuces Wild is that Bonus Poker has no wild cards, but it does offer the bonus payouts for the 4 of a kind hands.

It just depends on which feature of Black Jack Bonus Poker is more appealing to you—the wild cards or the bonus payouts for the 4 of a kind hands.

Conclusion

Black Jack Bonus Poker is a fun and unusual video poker variation that is, as far as we’ve been able to determine, only available for real money at land-based casinos. And it’s not common there.

The unusual pay table and unusual selection of wild cards make it hard to quantify the correct strategy for the game, but if you’re familiar with how most other video poker games work, you can probably play Black Jack Bonus Poker by feel without giving up more than 1% or 2% in expected return.

If you were hoping to find an online version to play for real money, we don’t have a site to recommend. Instead we recommend that you try Deuces Wild or Bonus Poker at one of the recommended real money online casinos on our site.