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Trade Up Poker

Created by IGT, Trade Up Poker is a video poker variant that gives you the chance to improve a dealt 3 of a kind in a bigger payout.

If you choose the Trade Up option during the Draw round, you’ll receive additional hands that’ll improve your chances of forming larger payouts. The catch is that your hand must improve or else you lose your 3 of a kind.

The end result is that you can win more money through full houses and 4 of a kinds. But you’ll also see fewer wins per hand if you continually trade up.

Is it worth risking a guaranteed 3 of a kind for a shot at larger payouts? Moreover, is it worth playing Trade Up Poker?

Find out as we cover this game’s betting options, rules, variations, pay table, and strategy.

How to Play Trade Up Poker Video Poker

Trade Up Poker Betting

Trade Up Poker comes in either Triple Play (3 hand), Five Play (5 hand), or Ten Play (10 hand) format. This leaves your betting options as follows:

  • Play up to 3, 5, or 10 hands per turn.
  • Play 1 to 5 coins per hand.

For reasons that we’ll discuss in the pay table section, you should bet all 5 coins on every hand that you play.

In Triple Play format, this leaves your max bet at 9 coins per turn. In Five Play format, this makes your max wager 15 coins per turn.

Playing a quarter denomination machine, this leaves you betting $2.25 for Triple Play or $3.75 for Five Play.

Of course, if either of these amounts are too expensive for a single turn, you can always choose to play a single hand.

Playing Hands

After deciding your betting options, you click Deal to receive your hand(s).

When playing Trade Up Poker in multi hand format, your bottom hand is the only one that’s deal face up. Any card that you hold in your bottom hand will be mirrored in the other hands, which remain face down.

Once you’ve finished deciding what cards to keep and have clicked Draw, your bottom hand as well as any other active hands will be filled out. Wins will be determined according to the pay table of the variation that you’re playing.

Trade Up Feature

The twist to playing hands in this game is the Trade Up feature.

Any time that you’re dealt a 3 of a kind, you can choose to play the hand like normal or trade up for a better hand.

If you choose the latter, the number of hands that you’re playing will at least double to give you a better chance of forming higher payouts. Here’s how this works:

Video Poker VariationTriple Play (3 Hands)Five Play (5 Hands)
Bonus Poker10 handsN/A
Double Bonus6 hands10 hands
Double Double Bonus6 hands10 hands
Jacks or Better10 handsN/A

The Trade Up feature starts with a 3 of a kind for each hand, then deals you two replacement cards from the deck’s 47 remaining cards. Again, you must form a better hand with any 3 of a kind to be paid.

Also keep in mind that some games and pay tables allow you to trade up certain full houses too. Video poker variations that let you do this include: 6 / 5 Bonus Poker, 5 / 5 Bonus Poker, 7 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe, 6 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe, 5 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe, 8 / 5 Double Double Bonus, 7 / 5 Double Double Bonus, and 6 / 5 Double Double Bonus.

It’s worth noting that payback is usually poor for these games. But when you include the ability to trade up both 3 of a kinds and full houses, the payback becomes competitive with higher paying variations.

IGT’s Trade Up Poker guide shows that payback increases for many games based on your ability to trade up for hands:

Trade Up Poker Payback Percentages

A game like 8 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe normally wouldn’t be worth playing because it only offers 97.40% payback with perfect strategy. But thanks to the Trade Up feature, you can get 99.94% payback.

Trade Up Poker Variations

As the table above shows, Trade Up Poker comes in several different variations. Here’s a closer look at how each version stands out:

Jacks or Better: Jacks or Better is the most widely played video poker variation, and its pay table is used as a model for other games. As the name suggests, the lowest qualifying payout is a pair of jacks.

Bonus Poker: You receive bonus payouts for 4 of a kind hands, including four aces, four 2 4s, and four 5 Ks.

Bonus Poker Deluxe: You receive larger bonus payouts for all 4 of a kind hands, rather than staggered payouts like in Bonus Poker. The tradeoff is that a two pair only pays one credit instead of two.

Double Bonus: You earn double bonus payouts for the same 4 fo a kind payouts offered in Bonus Poker.

Double Double Bonus: You earn extra large bonus payouts for specific 4 of a kinds, including four aces w / a 2, 3, or 4; four 2s, 3s, 4s w / an ace, 2, 3, or 4; four aces; four 2s, 3s, 4s; four 5s through Ks.

Trade Up Poker Table and Odds

Trade Up Poker’s pay table will obviously change depending upon which specific game you choose.

But no matter which game you choose, you’ll notice a pay table variation in every Trade Up Poker game. Here’s a look at this using 6 / 5 Bonus Poker as an example:

6 / 5 Bonus Poker Pay Table Normal

Hand1 coin2 coins3 coins4 coins5 coins
Royal flush2505007501,0004,000
Straight flush50100150200250
4 aces80160240320400
4 2s 4s4080120160200
4 5s Ks255075100125
Full house612182430
3 of a kind3691215
2 pairs246810
Jacks or better12345

Trade Up 6 / 5 Bonus Poker Pay Table

Hand1 coin2 coins3 coins4 coins5 coins
Royal flush2505007501,0004,000
Straight flush50100150200250
4 aces80160240320400
4 2s 4s4080120160200
4 5s Ks255075100125
Full house612182430
3 of a kind3691215
3 of a kind (Trade Up)00000
2 pairs246810
Jacks or better12345

As you can see from these two pay tables, the one difference is that you could potentially earn zero coins from a 3 of a kind if you aren’t able to upgrade it.

Most players will take this change, though, considering that you stand to win larger payouts.

Also consider that payback for the 6 / 5 Bonus Poker pay table above is only 96.87%, versus the 99.50% payback that you can get from Trade Up 6 / 5 Bonus Poker.

Unlike many other unique IGT video poker games like Good Times Pay Poker, Spin Poker, and Super Times Pay Poker, you don’t have to pay an extra (sixth) coin to enact the Trade Up feature. Instead, this is automatically offered no matter how many coins you wager.

Trade Up Poker Machines can Offer Lower Payouts

Some Trade Up machines like 8 / 6 Jacks or Better 100.36% payback, 9 / 6 / 5 Double Bonus Poker 100.34%, and 8 / 5 Double Double Bonus Poker 100.1% offer positive expectation.

Even in the case of 6 / 5 Bonus Poker and 8 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe, you’re looking at a near 100% return. Because of this, don’t expect to find Trade Up Poker with great pay tables too often.

This is a game that can still draw players regardless of the pay tables due to the Trade Up novelty effect.

That said, expect to see 7 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe 98.76% payback, 6 / 5 Bonus Poker Deluxe 97.80%, 9 / 6 / 4 Double Bonus Poker 98.91%, 7 / 5 Double Double Bonus Poker 98.91%, and 8 / 5 Jacks or Better 99.29% more than the good pay tables.

Always Bet 5 Coins

As with any video poker game, you should bet all 5 coins on each hand you play in Trade Up Poker. The reason why is because you get a favorable jump in royal flush payouts when winning on a 5 coin bet.

Like the Bonus Poker pay table shows, royal flush payouts are worth 4,000 coins on a 5 coin wager, versus 1,000 credits on a 4 coin bet.

This jump is what helps you theoretically earn more payback when making max 5 coin wagers.

Trade Up Poker Strategy

Due to this game’s unique feature, many players wonder if Trade Up Poker strategy differs from regular video poker variants. Let’s discuss this matter below along with using a strategy chart to play Trade Up.

Always Trade Up

The only strategy variation that’s needed when playing this game is to always trade up when given the opportunity.

Of course, there’s the risk that you can lose your 3 of a kind, and full house when applicable.

But the long term rewards that you stand to gain by trading up offset the short term losses that you’ll take from losing 3 of a kind payouts.

Bonus Poker Strategy Chart

Given that you don’t need to make any strategy adjustments beyond trading up, you can use a normal strategy chart for the game that you’re playing.

Since we covered the Bonus Poker strategy chart above, we’ve also listed a Bonus Poker strategy chart below. When reading this, start at the top and scan down as you look for which hands to prioritize.

  • Royal flush, straight flush, 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Full house, flush, straight
  • 3 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair aces to jacks
  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • Unsuited K Q J T
  • Low pair 10s to 2s
  • 4 cards to an outside straight
  • 3 cards to a straight flush
  • Unsuited A K Q J
  • 2 suited high cards
  • 4 cards to an inside straight w / 3 high cards
  • Unsuited K Q J
  • Unsuited Q J
  • Unsuited K Q, K J
  • Suited J T
  • Unsuited A K, A Q, A J
  • Ace
  • Suited K T, Q T
  • King, queen, and jack

If you don’t have one of the above listed hands, discard everything and draw for 5 new cards.

Video Poker Trainers

If you really want to sharpen your skills for Trade Up Poker video poker, then you should use a training program. Video poker trainers point out when you make mistakes and explain what the correct long term play would be.

Free video poker trainers can be found on the internet, while you can buy more extensive programs that allow you to practice with a broader range of games and pay tables.

In any case, it’s worth using a video poker trainer to improve your skills and practice making correct decisions.

Trade Up Poker Has Higher Variance

One last thing worth mentioning is that Trade Up Poker has more volatility because you’ll sometimes miss out on guaranteed payouts to chase larger ones.

Trading up is the correct decision because it allows you to earn more long term payback. But it can hurt when you give up a 3 of a kind or full house and fail to improve your hand.


Trade Up Poker is a good game for any video poker player who wants to branch outside of standard variations.

The fact that you can attempt to boost your 3 of a kinds and, in some cases, full houses is not only exciting but also helpful in terms of payback.

Most players will also enjoy the fact that they don’t have to bet an extra coin to enact the Trade Up feature. Another nice aspect is that you don’t have to adjust your normal strategy, beyond trading up whenever possible.

The only downsides to Trade Up Poker include the potential loss of 3 of a kinds, and higher variance.

But most players are completely willing to accept losing guaranteed payouts if it means both large winnings and higher long term payback. Just be sure to look at pay tables of any Trade Up machine to ensure that they offer good payback.

As for the higher variance, losing some 3 of a kind payouts shouldn’t affect the average player much as long as they have a sufficient bankroll.

In summary, if you’re looking a new video poker variation that won’t cost any more than the max bet to try, then we suggest looking for Trade Up Poker in land based casinos.

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