Should you Just Keep One Pair in Video Poker Games?

 Should you Just Keep One Pair in Video Poker Games?

When my wife Marcy and I go to a casino together, we usually spend some time playing video poker side-by-side. Her real casino love is the penny slots, for the animation and entertainment, but video poker is next.

The first time she tackled Double Double Bonus Poker, she was dealt a hand with two Jacks and two 5s. She leaned over and asked, “Should I just hold the Jacks, since two pairs just pay the same as a pair of Jacks?”

That’s a question I’ve often been asked about Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Bonus Poker Deluxe and other games where two pairs pay the same 1-for-1 as a pair of Jacks or better. Players reason, just as Marcy did, that it might be better just to hold the high pair and take a chance at drawing four of a kind for a big payoff.

Problem is, four of a kind is a long shot, and the better chance at filling in a full house makes holding both pairs a better option.

When you start with two pairs, there are 47 possible one-card draws. Four of them will complete a full house — a 1-in-11.75 shot —  while the other 43 just leave you with the two-pair pay. In 9-6 Double Double Bonus, holding Jack-Jack-5-5 brings an average return of 8.4 coins per five coins wagered.

If you hold just the pair of Jacks, there are 16,215 possible draws. Only 45 of them, or 1 in 360.3, brings the other two Jacks. The average return is only 6.7 coins per five wagered. That’s not a close call. The better play is to hold both pairs, unless the high pair consists of Aces. We do hold two Aces instead of two pairs in Double Double Bonus Poker.

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