Pick a Pair Video Poker
Pick a Pair Poker is a video poker game that only gives you the ability to select one card in your 5-card hand. This contrasts standard video poker games, where you have five choices – one for each card.
Another notable aspect of this game is that there’s no draw round, where you keep cards and discard others. Instead, your hand is finalized after you select one out of the two cards that you have a choice between.
Several companies develop Pick a Pair Poker, including Bally Game Maker, IGT, and Playtech.
Bally and IGT manufacture Pick a Pair for land based casinos, while Playtech supplies this game to online casinos. Bally and Playtech’s versions are called Pick ‘em Poker, which has become an interchangeable name for Pick a Pair.
This game is attractive in both land based and online casinos because it simplifies video poker for beginners. You only pick between two cards, which is nice for casual players.
But does this make Pick a Pair Poker strategy easier than other games? And what adjustments do you need to make when playing Pick a Pair Poker video poker?
Find out as we cover how to play this game, the pay table, and strategy.
How to Play Pick a Pair Poker
Pick a Pair Poker Betting
This game features a standard video poker betting format, where you can play between 1 and 5 coins per hand. As we’ll cover in the pay table section, proper strategy suggests that you play all 5 coins to achieve top payback.
The land based Pick a Pair coin denomination is $0.25, meaning you must bet $1.25 with 5 coins. Online casinos let you adjust your coin denomination as low as one or two cents, making your total wager $0.05-$0.10 with max coins.
If you’re playing multi hand Pick a Pair Poker, which forces you to play three or more hands, you must put 5 credits on each hand for optimal strategy. In the case of 3 Play Pick a Pair, you’d need to risk 15 coins to cover max bets on all three hands.
Once you click Deal to start a hand, you’ll see two cards to the left and two cards on the right.
You’re prompted to choose one of the two cards on the right. The card that you pick is added to your 5-card hand, while the non-selected card disappears.
The two cards on the left are automatically part of your hand and can’t be changed.
When you select a card to join the two on the left, two more cards are automatically dealt. This completes your 5-card hand, and the software will determine whether or not your hand qualifies for a payout.
This process differs greatly from other video poker games, where you have an opportunity to hold cards and make discards.
Pick a Pair Poker Rules
Pick a Pair is played with a standard 52 card deck with no wild cards. Each card is programmed to occur with the same frequency as you’d see in a physical 52 card deck.
The random number generator ensures that each hand is shuffled and completely random.
This game is unique in the video poker world since you’re making a multiple-choice decision on one card. When you make this choice, your 5-card hand will be finalized.
Pick a Pair Poker Variations
If you’re playing a multi hand version of Pick a Pair Poker, you can choose one of the following games from the bundle:
- 9s or Better: Listed as Pick a Pair, this game is characterized by the lowest qualifying hand being a pair of 9s. This is the most common version of Pick a Pair and is similar to Jacks or Better.
- Double Double Bonus: Offers special payouts for all 4 of a kind hands, including a large payout for four aces with a kicker of 2, 3, or 4.
- Deuces Wild: 2s are wild, which gives you a better chance to form large payouts, including a 5 of a kind. The catch is that the lowest qualifying payout is a 3 of a kind.
- 3 Play Pick a Pair: You’re dealt 3 hands, and you use the bottom hand to hold cards and make discards. All cards held in the bottom hand are mirrored in the other hands.
- 5 Play Pick a Pair: Same thing, except that you get 5 cards.
- 10 Play Pick a Pair: Same thing, except that you get 10 cards.
Pick a Pair Pay Table and Odds
While Pick a Pair can be played through different games via multi hand bundles, 9s or Better is the standard version.
This game uses the same winning hands as Jacks or Better, with the notable exception being that a pair of 9s is the lowest qualifying win – not jacks.
Below you can see Playtech’s pay table for 9s or Better a.k.a. Pick ‘em Poker, which is commonly found in online casinos:
|Hand||1 coin||2 coins||3 coins||4 coins||5 coins|
|4 of a kind||100||200||300||400||500|
|3 of a kind||5||10||15||20||25|
|Nines or better||2||4||6||8||10|
If you use optimal strategy on Playtech’s Pick a Pair game, you’ll achieve 98.95% payback.
If you’ve played Jacks or Better before, this pay table will look familiar because the winning hands are the exact same.
But payouts are more generous in Pick a Pair because it’s harder to form wins due to the lack of a draw round.
Here’s an example:
A max bet full house only pays 45 coins in 9 / 6 Jacks or Better, but it pays 90 coins in Pick a Pair.
Moving on, you’ll notice that there’s a progression in the royal flush payout on a 4-coin bet 4,000 coins versus a 5-coin bet 6,000 coins.
All other payouts in Pick a Pair increase proportionately as you bet more coins, except for the royal flush. This is why you want to wager 5 coins per hand to achieve the highest payback.
On the other hand, Pick a Pair offers one of video poker’s smallest progressions between the 4 and 5 coin royal flush win. If you don’t have the bankroll to risk 5 coins per hand, then Pick a Pair is one game that doesn’t penalize you as much for wagering less.
Pick a Pair Poker Video Poker Strategy
As if Pick a Pair Poker isn’t already unique enough, it also features different strategy from other video poker game.
The reason why is because you only have access to two cards, plus the third one that you choose. This leaves you basing strategy decisions off a 3-card hand.
Contrast this to standard video poker, where 5 cards are available immediately, giving you more information to base decisions on.
This difference means that Pick a Pair strategy charts differ from other games too.
One of the most interesting things that you’ll see right away is that a 3 of a kind is the top hand in Pick a Pair.
Even though a 3 of a kind only pays 25 coins on a 5-credit bet, it’s the best possible hand that you can get with the information available. This hand also gives you a 3.9% chance of improving to a 4 of a kind with fourth or fifth cards that are dealt.
Below you can see a strategy chart that’s specifically for Playtech’s online version of Pick a Pair Poker.
When reading this, start at the top and scan down as you look for the best hand that you can form with the first three cards. This chart will also help you decide which card to choose from the two that you’re given a choice between.
Sample Pick a Pair Poker Strategy Chart
- 3 of a kind
- 3 cards to a royal flush no ace
- High pair 9 9 to A A
- 3 cards to a royal flush w / ace
- 3 cards to a straight flush w / high cards, 0 1 gaps
- Unsuited Q J 10 or J 10 9
- 3 cards to a flush 2 high cards
- Low pair 2 2 to 8 8
- 3 cards to a straight flush w / high cards, 2 gaps
- 3 cards to a flush w / at least one high card
- 3 cards to a straight, high cards, 1 gap
- 3 cards to a flush, no high cards
- 3 cards to a straight w / high cards, no gaps
- Two high cards
- 3 cards to a straight w / high cards, 1 gap
- One high card
- 3 cards to a straight w / high cards, 2 gaps
One reason why people choose video poker over slot machines is that it gives them the chance to use strategy. But others can be intimidated when they must make 5 separate choices with each 5-card hand.
This isn’t to say that Pick a Pair is easy because there are multiple hands to keep track of on a strategy chart. But the strategy and overall experience are more relaxed in comparison to most video poker games.
If you’re just getting started with video poker, Pick a Pair is a nice way to acclimate yourself to the game before seeking out more complicated versions.
Of course, Pick a Pair can also entertain experienced players who are looking for a new video poker variation to try.
No matter whether you’ve played video poker in the past or not, Pick a Pair Poker is worth trying.