Double Double Bonus Poker

By Tom "TIME" Leonard | July 10, 2009

My previous article on Jacks or Better video poker was so well received I thought I would follow up with an article on what has become the most popular of the video poker games, Double Double Bonus Poker. The main reason that Double/Double has become so popular is that there are several extra bonuses built into the game. Of course, the casinos take something away for their generosity regarding the bonuses. These two dynamics, the extra bonuses and the tightening of the game, are what the optimum strategies are built around. The extra bonuses include four aces, deuces, threes and fours, especially with a kicker not higher than a four. What they take away for this generosity is that two pair pay the same as a single high pair whereas in Jacks or Better the two pair pays twice as much. The one becomes break even versus a winning hand.

The table below illustrates the differences in the pay tables between the two games. While you may find different pay tables in casinos you visit, I’ve used 9/6 tables where a full house pays nine times the number of coins played and a flush six times the number of coins.

Double Double Jacks or Better
Royal Flush 800 800
Straight Flush 50 50
Four of a kind (Aces with a kicker of A, 2, 3 or 4) 400 25
Four of a kind (Aces with out a good kicker) 160 25
Four of a kind (2s to 4s with kicker of A, 2, 3 or 4) 160 25
Four of a kind (2s, 3s or 4s with good kicker) 80 25
Four of a kind (5s thru Kings) 50 25
Full House 9 9
Flush 6 6
Straight 4 4
Three of a kind 3 3
Two Pair 1 2
Jacks or Better 1 1
Theoretical return when played perfectly 98.98% 99.54%


On the surface, all of the extra payouts for various four of a kinds make Double/Double appear to be a much better game than Jacks or Better. However, when the loss of the double payout for two pair is factored in, Jacks or Better is actually the better paying game. Two pair is the outcome in approximately 12% of hands so the reduction becomes significant. A twelve percent loss is equivalent to giving up five coins every eight hands in the hope of getting a bonus on some form of quads in every 400 hands. Remember – Las Vegas has not built all its temples of chance because it is giving its patrons an edge. More than one comedian working a Strip showroom has stated, “Welcome to Las Vegas, a city built on Hoover Dam and bad math”. Players seem to love the bigger jackpots offered by Double/Double eventhough they are paying a price for them. It’s the thrill of hitting a jackpot and there are more ways to do it in Double/Double. Now let’s look at the guiding strategy differences in playing optimum strategy in this exciting game.

  • When dealt four As, 2s, 3s or 4s with the bonus kicker of A, 2, 3 or 4, keep all five cards. If the four of a kind is accompanied by a 5 through King, draw for the bonus kicker. Never hold a bonus kicker with just three of a kind.
  • If dealt aces full, throw the underpair away to draw to the fourth ace.
  • If dealt two pair containing aces, only keep the aces.
  • If dealt two or three unsuited high cards with an ace, keep only the ace versus two or three high cards without an ace – keep them all.

All the other drawing strategies are the same as Jacks or Better which can be reviewed in my previous video poker article. As you can see, the key strategy differences between Jacks or Better and Double/Double focus to how to handle quads and the treatment of aces. Double/Double places a huge premium on any ace. Four aces with a qualifying kicker pays the same as half a Royal Flush. This 400-to-1 payout can be expected about once in every 16,000 hands played which is 2.5 times the frequency that you can expect a royal flush to make its appearance. Best of all, the adrenalin rush is almost the same!

Double/Double is definitely a more exciting game in my opinion due to the increased volatility. Volatility is what gamblers crave – without it the game becomes boring. The main difference between Jacks or Better and Double Double Bonus is not the .56% of theoretical return but the excitement of the added jackpots. If you would prefer no volatility at all, you could go to a change machine and get four five dollar bills for every twenty you put in it. Wow, that would be a machine with 100% payback and no volatility. It doesn’t sound like much fun to me – how about you?

By Tom "TIME" Leonard

Tom has been writing about poker since 1994 and has played across the USA for over 40 years, playing every game in almost every card room in Atlantic City, California and Las Vegas.


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