QUESTION: My wife and I were in Las Vegas, and I got my first taste of full-pay Deuces Wild. That 5-for-1 payoff on four of a kind really helps the game. Does it make a big difference in strategy?
ANSWER: If you’ve been playing Not So Ugly Deuces Wild or the version the late Lenny Frome called Illinois Deuces, the most noticeable differences come on two-pair hands and four-card flushes. Those two games differ only in the payoffs on five of a kind and straight flushes, which are 16-for-1 and 10-for-1 on NSU, and slightly lower at 15-9 on Illinois.
Full-pay Deuces pays 5-for-1 on four of a kind, but only 3-for-1 on full houses. NSU and Illinois Deuces pay 4-for-1 on both four of a kind and full houses. That difference between the payoffs on quads and full houses in full-pay Deuces is important. It means that dealt two pairs, such as Jack-Jack-8-8-5, the best play is to hold just one pair and toss the other three cards. It doesn’t matter which pair. The expected value per five coins wagered is 2.81 on either pair, but only 2.55 for holding both pairs.
That changes in NSU and Illinois Deuces, where a full house is worth as much as quads. Given the same starting hand, we hold both pairs and go for the 8 in 47 chance at a full house. In NSU and Illinois Deuces, EVs are 3.40 for holding both pairs, but only 2.74 on holding one pair.
There’s another major pay table difference on flushes, where the full-pay game pays 2-for-1, but NSU and Illinois Deuces step it up to 3-for-1. One common situation where that makes a difference is when we’re dealt four cards of the same suit, and also dealt a pair. Given an initial deal of 4-7-9-Queen of hearts and a 7 of spades, the best play at full-pay Deuces is to hold the pair of 7s. EVs are 2.80 on the pair, and 2.55 on the four hearts.
It’s different other games. EVs in NSU and Illinois Deuces are 3.83 on the four hearts, and 2.73 on the pair.
There are further differences in that we chase straight flushes more aggressively in Illinois and especially NSU Deuces, but the two-pair and four-flush hands are major steps you’ll need to keep in mind as you sample the full-pay game.
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