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Build a Wheel Poker

You might think of Build a Wheel Poker as a hybrid between Wheel of Fortune slot machines and traditional video poker games. The game’s distinguishing characteristic is the way in which the player fills up the prize wheel and then gets to spin it. Whenever you get a 3 of a kind or better, you get to fill in the prizes on the prize wheel—when the prize wheel is filled up, you get to spin the wheel.

This page includes full details about how to play Build a Wheel Poker. It also includes an analysis of the pay tables and the correct strategies for playing. We also include information about how and where to play the game online for free or for real money.

How to Play Build a Wheel Poker

Like many video poker variations with bonus games, you can opt to play a Build a Wheel Poker like a standard video poker game. In case you don’t know how those games work, here’s a quick summary:

Video poker games look like slot machines, but only on the surface. The differences are significant, though. Both video poker games and slot machines pay out prizes based on the combinations of symbols on the monitor.

But on a video poker game, the odds of getting a particular symbol are known. That’s because each symbol is that of a playing card, and the odds of getting that card are the same as they would be if you were playing with a real deck of cards.

Armed with that information, we can calculate the house edge for such a game. And since you get to discard cards and replace them, video poker includes a skill element that slot machines lack. Here’s how that works:

You start by betting between 1 and 5 coins per hand. We suggest always playing for 5 coins, because that’s a requirement to get the top possible jackpot—800 to 1 on the royal flush. If you play for 4 coins or fewer, the payoff for that hand is only 250 to 1.

Once you’ve placed your bet, you’re dealt 5 virtual cards on the computer screen. You can choose which cards to keep and which cards to discard. The game deals you replacement cards for your discards, and you get paid off automatically based on the pay table and which poker hand you wind up with.

In Build a Wheel Poker, you activate the special feature by placing an additional bet on each hand. Since Build a Wheel Poker is usually played as a 3-play or 5-play multi-hand game, the amount of this additional bet can add up quickly.

  • Here’s what happens when you do this:

You start with a prize wheel with 6 blank spots on it. Besides those blank spaces, you also have a spot worth 4000 coins. And you have a progressive jackpot on one of the slices, too—it starts at 10,000 coins and increases over time just like any other progressive jackpot.

Any time you get a 3 of a kind or better, you get to fill in one of the blank spots with an additional prize. The amount of this prize is determined randomly.

  • But there’s more:

If you get a full house or better, you not only get to assign a random amount to one of the blank spots, you also get to fill in all of the other blank spots on the wheel.

When there are no blank spots left on the reel you get to spin the wheel and collect your prize for doing so.

You should know that any time you play a gambling machine with a prize wheel, the odds of getting the various prizes vary based on the prize amount. According to one reputable source we consulted, the player awarded spots are equally likely to come up, but the 2 larger prized spots have longer odds.

  • There’s one final catch:

If you decide to quit playing before you’ve filled in all the blank spots on the prize wheel, you’re offered a “surrender” amount to reset the prize wheel. You also have the option of leaving the prizes on the wheel. There’s no good mathematical reason for doing this, but if you’re scouting games and can find one where some of the spots on the wheel are already filled in, you can increase your expected value by doing so.

Build a Wheel Poker Pay Tables and Odds

Like many of the newer video poker variations out there, Build a Wheel is a feature that’s placed on top of an existing game. It’s available with the following as the base game:

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

The payback percentages for each of these variations is based on the pay table for that specific game, but the “Build a Wheel” increases the payback percentage for the game by 0.1% or 0.2% or so.

Here’s an example:

A traditional 8/5 Bonus Poker game offers a payback percentage of 99.17%. If you’re playing Build a Wheel 8/5 Bonus Poker with 3 hands, the payback percentage becomes 99.32%, which is an improvement of 0.15%. The 5 hand version of the same game has a payback percentage of 99.27%, which is only 0.1% better.

The additional payback percentage is based on the average values of the prizes on the prize wheel. It’s not an exact number, especially since one of the prizes is a progressive jackpot which is going to continue to increase over time while you’re playing.

Build a Wheel Poker Strategy

You’ll use the appropriate strategy for the base game. This is usually presented as table with a hierarchical listing of hands. You start at the top and read down until you find a hand that looks like what you’re holding. Those are the cards you keep.

Build a Wheel Poker doesn’t have a lot of specific strategy on top of that, but there are a couple of important points you should pay attention to.

For one thing, you should play the 3-play version and enable the “Build a Wheel” feature. The 3-play version offers a better payback percentage than the 5-play version.

For another thing, you should never surrender. Be sure you have a large enough bankroll to play until you’re able to spin the prize wheel. If you’re planning to quit, be sure to quit immediately after spinning the wheel. Doing otherwise just increases the amount the casino makes from your play.

Where to Play Online for Free or Real Money

Build a Wheel Poker is one of those video poker games that has become reasonably popular in land-based casinos but hasn’t caught on in online casinos yet. The only place we know of where you can play Build a Wheel Poker online is VideoPoker.com, which is not an online casino at all. You can play for free there, but not for real money.

If you want to gamble online for real money, we recommend trying some of the base games that Build a Wheel Poker (ahem) builds on. Bonus Poker and Deuces Wild and their subsequent variations are available at most online casinos for real money.

As far as specific properties go, we recommend any of the following casinos for video poker players:

Be sure to obey the laws in your jurisdiction before playing online. You should look for real reviews of online casinos at a reputable information portal (like this one) before making your first deposit.


Build a Wheel Poker is a fun variation of video poker which combines the excitement of Wheel of Fortune slot machines with the skill element and high payback percentages of traditional video poker games. You don’t have to learn a whole lot of new strategies in order to participate, either—just use the strategy for the base game, keeping the following in mind:

  • You should never surrender.
  • You should stick with the 3-play versions of the game.
  • You should always activate the special feature.

Unfortunately, Build a Wheel Poker hasn’t caught on with Internet casinos—at least not yet. But you can try the game for free at VideoPoker.com. We prefer real money games, though, and we suggest taking a look at some of our casino reviews when considering where you want to play.

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