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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Holding the low pair at video poker

Holding the low pair at video poker

1 February 2018

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: Video poker question: I know you've written that low pairs are more valuable than high cards, but what if you have two high cards in a hand? What if you have a hand like K-Q-8-8-4? Is it still better to hold the low pair instead of the two high cards? Does it make a difference if the king and queen are the same suit or different suits?

Please explain for 9/6 Double Double Bonus, because that's the game I play.

ANSWER: Let's do this assuming king of spades, queen of hearts, 8 of diamonds, 8 of clubs and 4 of clubs, and again with the king and queen both being spades.

Either way, if you hold the pair of 8s and discard the other three cards, there are 16,125 possible draws, with 11,559 being losing hands.

Of the 4,556 winners, 2,592 are two pairs bring 1-for-1 payoffs, 1,854 are three of a kind paying 3-for-1, 165 are full houses paying 9-for-1 and 45 are four of a kind paying 250-for-1.

The average return per five coins wagered is 3.67 coins.

If the king and queen are different suits, the 16,215 possible draws include 6,154 winners, with 5,015 high pairs (1-for-1), 717 two pairs (1-for-1), 283 three of a kind (3-for-1), 128 straights (4-for-1), 18 full houses (9-for-1) and two four of a kind (250-for-1).

The average return is 2.27 coins.

If the king and queen are the same suit, winners rise to 6,237 combinations because of possible flushes. The breakdown is 5,016 high pairs (1-for-1), 717 two pairs (1-for-1), 283 three of a kind (3-for-1), 126 straights (4-for-1), 163 flushes (6-for-1), 18 full houses (9-for-1), two four of a kind (250-for-1), one straight flush (250-for-1) and one royal flush (800-for-1).

The average return is 2.83 coins.

You can see that holding the low pair still brings the greatest overall return — 3.67 coins on the pair, 2.83 on suited K-Q and 2.27 on unsuited K-Q. In either case, you'll win more often on the high cards, but win more money on the low pair.

The situation changes if the four and one of the 8s is the same suit as the king and queen. Then you have four parts of a flush, with an average return of 6.83 coins making it a far better play than either the low pair or the suited high cards. However, if only one of the other cards is the same suit as the K-Q, leaving you with three parts of a flush, the best play remains holding the low pair.

QUESTION: I have a slot story for you. It was the first time my wife and I went to Las Vegas. We had a really good time and even won some money, mostly on quarter video poker.

My wife was ready to lock it up and head for the airport, but I head into the Riviera. She said, "Now what?" I'd read that dollar slots paid more, so I thought I'd try.

I don't even remember what game, but on the first pull, I won $40. On the second pull, I won another $40. My wife decided she'd play a little more after all and took $20, but she exchanged for quarters.

When I started losing, I quit with the first $40 in profit. She lost $10, but we still left $30 ahead for that one last fling.

ANSWER: Thanks for sharing. I'd add the caution that dollar slots are not guaranteed money — you'll lose more than you win on them. But I'm glad it put a nice cap on your first trip,

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

John Grochowski
John  Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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