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Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is basically a variation of Bonus Poker, which is, in turn, a variation of Jacks or Better. The reason the word “bonus” is added to the name of the game is because of the extra-high payouts for the 4 of a kind hand in the game. The game “pays” for the bigger payouts for a 4 of a kind by reducing the payoff for 2 pairs from 2 to 1 to even money.

With the right pay table, Double Bonus Poker can offer the smart player a small edge over the house. Even some of the less optimal pay tables make for a great video poker game, though.

This page provides an overview of the game and how it’s played, along with an analysis of the pay tables and payback percentages for the game. We’ve also included a strategy section.

How to Play Double Bonus Poker

We always assume that our readers are almost complete novices, so we start with the basics of how to play video poker in general. A lot of readers are familiar with slot machines, and some of them think that video poker games are just another type of slot.

That’s not the case at all, in fact:

Slot machines are similar to video poker games. Both feature symbols on a video screen, and different combinations of those symbols have different payoffs. But most slot machine games have meaningless symbols and icons, like fruit or bars. Video poker machines use playing cards.

This is significant because you have no way of knowing what the probability of getting a particular symbol on a slot machine is. But true video poker games (as opposed to pull tab games, which only look like video poker games) use the same probability as a deck of cards.

Both slots and video poker provide you with a pay table that shows what the payoffs are for various combinations of symbols. But the combinations in video poker are based on poker hand rankings, and the odds of winding up with particular poker hands are known.

If you know the payoff for a hand AND the odds of getting that hand, you can calculate the expected return for the entire machine.

You have no way of knowing which slot machines offer better odds than which other slot machines. But you can certainly tell which video poker games offer better odds than other video poker games.

The other neat thing about VP games is that you get a chance to make some decisions which can affect your outcomes. Think of these games as being similar to draw poker. You’re dealt 5 cards, but you get a chance to discard between 0 and 5 cards to try to improve your hand.

In most cases, which cards you keep and which cards you discard have a major effect on your expected return. For example, if you’re dealt a royal flush (which pays off at 800 to 1) on your first deal, if you threw any of the cards away, you’d be making a hugely incorrect mathematical decision. That’s the top payout in the game, so any decision other than to keep that hand is going to cost you money.

Most decisions in the game are subtler than that, but it’s a good illustration of how your decisions make a difference. If you use the right strategy, you can minimize the house edge and play one of the best gambling games in any casino. In fact, the payback percentage for most video poker games is at least 95%. The payback percentage for most slot machines usually max out at 95%.

The actual how to play stuff is simplicity itself. You insert your money. You bet the max number of coins (5 coins). You press the deal button. You select which cards you want to keep. You then hit deal again and get paid off on any winning hand.

The reason you always bet max coins is because if you bet less than that, your payoff for the royal flush is reduced.

It pays off at 800 to 1 when you bet 5 coins, but if you’re betting 4 coins or fewer, it only pays off at 250 to 1.

Pay Tables, Payback Percentage, and Return to Player

We should define a few terms before we go any further, then we can get into some of the details about actually playing Double Bonus Poker.

The pay table

is a chart that shows a list of hands, from best to worst, along with the payoffs for winding up with each of those hands. On almost all games, the royal flush is the highest-paying hand, with a payoff of 800 to 1. The lowest paying hand is usually a pair of jacks or higher, although in some wild card games payoffs start with a lowest hand of 3 of a kind.

The payback percentage and the return to the player

are the same thing. This is a mathematical prediction of how much of each bet gets paid back to the player in winnings over time. This is a long term expectation, so in the short run, you’ll see almost any kind of result here. But over tens of thousands of hands, if you play with the correct strategy, you’ll eventually see results which mirror the results you’d expect from the estimates.

Here’s an example:

A Jacks or Better game has a payback percentage of 99.54%. This means that for every dollar you wager, the casino expects you to win 99.54 cents back. An average player makes 600 bets per hour. At $1.25 per bet on a quarter machine, that’s $750. The casino expects to pay you $746.55 back in winnings. The other $3.45 per hour is the casino’s profit.

Of course, not all players use perfect strategy. When you make mistakes, this reduces the payback percentage, and the casino profits even more in the long run.

The house edge

is the opposite of the payback percentage. This is the amount the casino expects to win on every bet. If you subtract the payback percentage from 100%, you’re left with the house edge. In the case of the Jacks or Better game we used in our example, the house edge is only 0.46%.

For some reason, casinos and gambling writers use the house edge to describe the odds on table games and the payback percentage to describe the odds on gambling machines. But either metric has its uses.

By the way, if the house edge is negative, that means the player has an advantage over the house. With some Double Bonus Poker games this is possible. A full pay Double Bonus Poker game offers a payback percentage of 100.17% when played with perfect strategy.

Here’s the pay table for that version of Double Bonus Poker:

Royal flush800 to 1
Straight flush50 to 1
4 aces160 to 1
4 deuces, 3s, or 4s80 to 1
Any other 4 of a kind50 to 1
Full house10 to 1
Flush7 to 1
Straight5 to 1
3 of a kind3 to 1
2 pairs1 to 1
Pair of jacks or higher1 to 1
Anything less than jacks or highernone

This would be referred to as a 10/7 Double Bonus game, because the payoff for a full house is 10 to 1 and the payoff for a flush is 7 to 1. The major differences between this pay table and that for a Jacks or Better pay table are the bonus payouts for the various kinds of 4 of a kind hands. Also, in most video poker games, 2 pairs pays off at 2 to 1 instead of even money. As we mentioned earlier, if you play this version with perfect strategy, you’re looking at a payback percentage (or return to player) of 100.17%.

Double Bonus Poker Strategy

The Double Bonus Poker strategy presented below is a hierarchy of hands. They’re listed from the hand with the best expected return at the top to the hand with the worst expected return at the bottom. To play this game correctly, you simply start at the top, compare your hand with the list, and stop when you get to the hand that you have. Those are the cards you keep—throw the rest away.

  • Royal flush
  • Straight flush
  • 4 of a kind
  • 4 to a royal flush
  • 3 aces
  • Full house
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Any other 3 of a kind besides aces
  • 4 cards to a straight flush draw
  • 2 pairs
  • A high pair
  • 4 to a flush draw
  • 3 to a royal flush draw
  • 4 to an outside straight draw
  • Any low pair
  • AKQJ offsuit
  • 3 cards to a straight flush draw
  • 4 cards to an inside straight draw with 3 high cards
  • QJ suited
  • 3 cards to a flush draw with 2 high cards
  • Any 2 high cards, suited
  • 4 cards to an inside straight draw with 2 high cards
  • 4 cards to an inside straight with 1 high card
  • KQJ offsuit
  • JT suited
  • QJ offsuit
  • 3 cards to a flush draw with 1 high card
  • QT suited
  • KQ or KJ offsuit
  • An ace
  • KT suited
  • A jack, a queen, or a king
  • 4 cards to an inside straight draw with no high cards
  • 3 cards to a flush draw with no high cards
  • Throw everything away and start over

We should mention that this is a simplified strategy, but more complicated strategy probably only give you back another 0.1% in payback percentage. If you’re looking for a perfect strategy for this game, we recommend Bob Dancer’s Winners Guide book.


Double Bonus Poker is a fun video poker variation with a somewhat higher variance than Jacks or Better. It makes up for that higher variance with its bigger payoffs for some of the different 4 of a kind hands available. If you play with the correct strategy, you have a small edge over the house. This assumes no mistakes, though.

Our Recommendation:
As far as video poker games go, Double Bonus Poker is one of the best you’ll find.
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