Deuces Wild Poker

Playing poker at the casino can be an intimidating experience, even to those who are familiar with the game and have practiced playing it online. This is a fact that casinos know all too well, and was one of the reasons behind the creation of Video Poker.

Video poker allows players to play poker on their own. There are significant differences between Texas Hold’em and Deuces Wild, but playing video poker is still a great way to help players memorize the various combinations which result in a winning hand.

Those skills are transferable to every modern form of poker – 7/5 Card Stud, Jacks or Better Video Poker, Texas Hold ’em and Omaha Hold ’em… the winning hands remain the same between all these games, although video poker variants might order the value of each payout differently. When playing table poker (such as Texas Hold ’em or Omaha) the order of hands is always the same.

What is Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is a variation of Video Poker in which all the two’s (also known as deuces, in poker parlance), are wild cards. This means that they can substitute for any other card in the deck. As a result, it is far easier to hit a hand such as a 3-of-a-kind, a straight, or a flush when playing Deuces Wild in comparison with regular Jacks or Better Video Poker.

The bottom half of the Deuces Wild paytable looks very different from that of Jacks or Better. This is the result of the addition of the four wild cards. The minimum hand required to score a “win” while playing Deuces Wild is a three-of-a-kind, however, this will only return your original stake. Even hitting a flush or a straight will only double your original wager in this game.

A Royal Flush is much more likely to land when you have four wild cards in play, but you might not have realized just how much more common such hands are. The paytable makes this clear, as a “Deuces Royal Flush” – that is, any Royal Flush which includes one or more Deuces – pays just one-tenth as much as a “Natural Royal Flush”.

Other important differences between Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild

Having four wilds in the deck makes other hands possible too – you can hit five of a kind, for example, which isn’t possible in games that do not feature wildcards. You can also hit a wild royal flush, which consists of one to three deuces and two to four royal cards of the same suit. We will discuss the wild royal flush in more detail later in this article.

Whilst Deuces Wild is not my personal favorite video poker game, I would always choose this game over regular old Jacks or Better any day of the week. It is all a matter of personal taste though, so it is strongly recommended that you give both games a try to see which suits your style of play best.

One thing that is important to point out is that the correct strategy for Deuces Wild is much more complicated than that of Jacks or Better. We discuss strategy in full later in this article, but if you are new to Video Poker, you are probably best starting with Jacks or Better first.

History

At their core, all versions of Video Poker are based on five-card draw poker. Jacks or Better (and variants of it such as Tens or Better) are the “purest” form of the game, but the payouts are frustratingly low for all but the very rarest combinations. Deuces Wild was the second variant of video poker to be invented, appearing just a couple of years after Bally created the first single-player, computerized version of Draw Poker.

These early machines were named “Fortune 1 Draw Poker,” but did not make much of an impact when they first appeared on the casino floor. The game was a side project created by Bally employee Si Redd, who believed in his concept so strongly that when his new-fangled video poker game flopped, he left Bally and formed SIRCOMA – short for “Si Redd’s Coin Operated Machines”.

SIRCOMA conducted extensive research amongst players and determined that the reason for the unpopularity of Fortune 1 Draw Poker was the low ratio of wins to losses. You needed a minimum of two pairs to score a win whilst playing the game, a hand that only occurs roughly once in every ten deals.

A simple modification was made – rather than needing two pairs to score a win, a single pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces would result in your stake being returned. The simple addition of what amounts to nothing more than a psychological trick, and a rebranding to “Jacks or Better Video Poker” was enough to kickstart a revolution on the casino floor. SIRCOMA sold thousands of their new “Jacks or Better” machines, rebranded themselves as International Game Technology (IGT), and set about creating their next iteration of Video Poker – Deuces Wild.

The Game that Came Next: Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild first appeared on the casino floor sometime between the late 70s and early 80s. The game was an instant hit, and whilst those early machines were highly primitive by today’s standards, many aspects have remained the same throughout the decades since.

Every video poker player has heard of Deuces Wild. One of the biggest reasons for its initial success was that, in its original form, a skilled player could beat the house consistently due to the “Full Pay” paytable offering an RTP of over 100%. This is extremely unusual for a casino game – even to this day. The result was that Deuces Wild achieved near-legendary status amongst avid fans of casino gambling.

It wasn’t just the oversized 100.76% RTP that made Deuces Wild a smash hit. Players loved the huge payoff for hitting four Deuces, which, at 200 coins, far outstripped anything offered by Jacks or Better (short of the unicorn-like Royal Flush). Mathematically, four Deuces are no more difficult to hit than any other four of a kind. But, whilst Jacks or Better pays out just 25x your wager for hitting a four of a kind, the 200x reward for hitting all four Deuces in Deuces Wild made it the far more attractive game.

Four deuces occur much more commonly than a straight flush, a hand that returns just 50x your stake in Jacks or Better. This makes Deuces Wild a much more exciting game to play because you don’t need to hit an exceptionally rare royal flush to win a huge amount of money. It is for these reasons that I personally much prefer Deuces Wild over Jacks or Better.

With Success Brought Controversy: Bally’s Response to Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild was the first Video Poker variant to try and add a little spice to the game of draw through the use of Wild Cards. While Jacks or Better had certainly been popular, Deuces Wild took IGT’s success to a whole new level. This did not go unnoticed with Bally’s, who decided that the entire concept of Video Poker should belong to them – after all, it was them who had funded the research and development of the original Fortune 1 Draw Poker.

Bally’s decided to sue Si Redd, insisting that the rights to IGT’s Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better machines belonged to them. Unfortunately for Bally’s, this lawsuit was not successful, but in a surprise move, the court did block IGT from patenting the concept of a Video Poker machine themselves. This decision meant that Bally’s were free to develop their own Video Poker machines, resulting in the creation of All American Video Poker.

All American is a fun variant of Video Poker which re-allocates a large chunk of RTP to the more common hands including Straights, Flushes, and Full Houses.

IGT liked what Bally’s had done with All American, so decided to release a copycat version titled “USA Poker”. Both All American and USA Poker are great games featuring identical pay tables, but players voted with their wallets. Players just weren’t all that interested in either of these new games – In terms of both revenue and profit, there was no question that Deuces Wild was the leader of the pack.

Pay Table

The full-pay version of Deuces Wild is notable for having an RTP of over 100% when played with perfect strategy, so be sure to read the section titled “House Edge” lower down this page to learn more about that. This is the paytable you should be looking out for whether playing online or on the casino floor. It is not as common as it used to be, but it certainly isn’t rare either.

As you can probably imagine, some casinos were not happy having a game on their floor with a payout above 100% RTP. A skilled player could spend their life playing this machine and be sure of a profit over the long term. It’s difficult to estimate just how much money it would be possible to earn from playing Deuces Wild full time on a full pay machine, but a player advantage of almost 1% is not insignificant.

When playing slots, every 1% that is deducted from a game’s RTP makes a huge difference to the number of spins you can expect to play on that machine with a fixed bankroll. It is logical therefore to assume that full-pay Deuces Wild, with a player advantage of roughly 0.75%, should be enough to generate a significant amount of profit given enough time.

As a result, many, many pay tables exist for Deuces Wild, as individual casinos individually developed alternative solutions to the problem at various points in time. If I had been running a casino, I would have simply lowered the jackpot to bring the RTP in line with where I wanted it to be, but I don’t think this approach was ever explored.

This is because the casinos wanted to make their Deuces Wild paytables look as close to the full pay version as possible, and reducing the jackpot payoff would be an obvious change that could put off some players before they had even sat down to play.

Instead, the most trustworthy casinos chose to use very subtle strategies to lower the RTP of their Deuces Wild machines. The worst of the bunch used the opportunity to lower the odds of Deuces Wild dramatically – often using tactics that were just as subtle, but difficult for an inexperienced player to spot.

 

Let’s start by examining the full-pay Deuces Wild paytable. Here it is in full:

NATURAL ROYAL FLUSH 250 500 750 1000 4000
FOUR DEUCES 200 400 600 800 1000
DEUCES ROYAL FLUSH 25 50 75 100 125
FIVE OF A KIND 15 30 45 60 75
STRAIGHT FLUSH 9 18 27 36 45
FOUR OF A KIND 5 10 15 20 25
FULL HOUSE 3 6 9 12 15
FLUSH 2 4 6 8 10
STRAIGHT 2 4 6 8 10
THREE OF A KIND 1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 1: The Paytable to Look For: Deuces Wild Full Pay (100.76% RTP)

The Importance of Denominations (Coins)

The eagle-eyed amongst you will no doubt have spotted a discrepancy in the top right-hand corner. This is the bonus for playing all five coins. Every other item on the paytable increases predictably as you play more coins, but the developers decided to make the maximum win available ONLY if you are playing the maximum number of coins.

This might have made sense back in the days when physical coins were used to fund each round, but makes little sense in today’s world of barcoded tickets and online casinos. Whenever you play video poker, you should always be betting the maximum of five coins per hand, otherwise, you will not be eligible to win the jackpot if you hit a royal flush.

Because of the higher than average RTP offered by Deuces Wild machines, many casinos do not allow denominations lower than $1 to be used while playing Deuces Wild. A $1 denomination forces you to bet $5 on each hand, and you’ll need a huge bankroll (or a tonne of luck!) to survive more than a few minutes whilst playing at these high stakes. Unfortunately, if you cannot afford to place these high bets, you may have to settle for one of the lower-paying Deuces Wild paytables instead.

Online, things are much more friendly – you can often set your denomination to be as low as 5c, which enables you to play five coins per hand for as little as 25c. Of course, you can still increase your coin size if you wish, too. Just remember, playing five coins at the 5c denomination is infinitely preferable to playing one coin at the 25c denomination. Be sure to check this every time you start to play – you don’t want to be leaving the casino in tears if you happen to hit a jackpot but stupidly forgot to play all five coins!

Deuces Wild – Alternative Common Paytables

Here are some of the alternative paytables you will find both online and on the casino floor when playing Deuces Wild video poker. This table shows only the payouts for playing five coins. Some of these paytables have picked up names over the years – “Not So Ugly Deuces Wild” (NSUDW) is a good example of this.

The NSUDW paytable is extremely deceptive as you might expect it to be more generous than the regular Full-Pay table if you don’t spend the time doing the math for this table. Fortunately, it is still a good bet and is shown in the third column of the top table below with an RTP of 99.73%.

Using these tables you can determine the RTP of any Deuces Wild machine whether online or in a land-based casino. Find the column that matches the payouts of the game you are about to play, then check the top row to see what the RTP of that particular machine is. For me, the cutoff where I would choose not to play the game is somewhere around 98%.

REMEMBER: The RTPs stated assume you are betting the maximum of five coins on every hand!

Deuces Wild – The Best, The Acceptable, and the OK Paytables

RTP 100.76% 99.96% 99.73% 99.51% 99.42% 99.23% 98.94% 98.91% 98.44% 97.97% 97.64% 97.58% 97.09%
Natural 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 940
4 Deuces 200 200 200 300 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200
W. Royal 25 25 25 20 25 25 20 25 25 20 25 20 25
5OAK 15 15 16 12 15 16 12 15 15 15 15 12 16
S. Flush 9 11 10 10 10 9 9 9 8 9 6 10 13
4OAK 5 4 4 4 4 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 4
F. House 3 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 4 4 4 3
Flush 2 3 3 3 3 3 2 3 3 3 3 3 2
Straight 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
3OAK 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Fig. 2: Deuces Wild Paytables (Part 1 of 2)

Deuces Wild – The Poor, The Bad, and the Downright Ugly Paytables

RTP 97.06% 96.77% 96.75% 96.34% 96.01% 95.96% 95.59% 95.19% 94.97% 94.82% 94.58% 93.37% 91.42%
Natural 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800 800
4 Deuces 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200
W. Royal 20 25 20 25 25 20 25 25 25 25 25 20 20
5OAK 12 16 11 15 12 10 12 12 10 15 10 10 10
S. Flush 9 13 9 9 9 8 8 7 8 10 7 8 8
4OAK 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
F. House 4 3 4 3 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 3 3
Flush 3 2 3 3 2 3 2 2 2 2 2 3 2
Straight 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
3OAK 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Fig. 3: Deuces Wild Paytables (Part 2 of 2)

 

Deuces Wild Strategy

Remembering the correct response to every single eventuality in Deuces Wild is not an easy thing to do, even if you have a fantastic memory. Guess how many unique combinations there are of five individual cards pulled from a fifty-two card deck. What do you think? 10,000? 100,000 a million? The answer is 2,598,960! Crazier still, that is nothing compared to the total number of combinations that can be formed from a full deck.

Take a new deck of cards, give them a good shuffle, and then set them down on the table. Did you know that nobody else has ever shuffled a deck into an identical order to the pack you have just set down on the table? It seems hard to believe, but it’s true! – How do I know? The total number of possible orderings of a full fifty-two card deck is 52! (52 factorial). How big is that number? Brace yourself, because there are:

80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000

unique combinations of 52 cards in a freshly shuffled deck!

This means that every time you shuffle a deck of cards, you are creating a brand-new index of those 52 cards which has never been seen or played by anyone – ever. It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?

I bring this up because the best possible strategy for Deuces Wild is incredibly complex and could take an entire book to explain in full detail. Don’t worry though – our simple strategy has an RTP of 100.71%, only 0.05% lower than the far more complicated optimal strategy. I would recommend becoming accustomed to this simple strategy first and moving on to the more complicated version later if you feel it is worth the extra 0.05%.

Deciding Which Cards to Keep

The table below is ordered by the number of Deuces you have in your hand. If you have no Deuces this round, head straight to the last row which lists the most profitable decisions you can make in this most unluckiest of scenarios. The list to the right of each row tells you which cards you should hold if your hand meets the given description.

Deciding which cards to keep should be easy for most players – count how many Deuces you have, find the appropriate row in our table, and then work your way down the list on the right-hand side until you find a row that describes your current hand. Once you have found the correct row, simply hold all the cards mentioned and hit draw – we wish you the very best of luck!

Still unsure? We will show one or two examples afterward, just to be certain that you understand our notation correctly.

 

Deuces Wild: Simple Strategy (100.71% RTP)

 

          Four Deuces
1. Jackpot – Hold Everything!
    Three Deuces
1. 3 Deuces + Two Royals of the same suit (Pat Wild Royal Flush)
2. 3 Deuces
    Two Deuces
1. Pat Wild Five of a Kind – Pat Wild Four of a Kind
2. Four to a Wild Royal Flush
3. Four to a Straight Flush + 2 Consecutive Suited Cards 6-7 or Higher
4. 2 Deuces
One Deuce
1. Pat Wild Five of a Kind – Pat Wild Four of a Kind
2. Pat Full House
3. Four to a Straight Flush + 3 Consecutive Suited Cards 5-7 or Higher
4. Three of a kind – Pat Straight – Pat Flush
5. Any other Four to a Straight Flush
6. Three to a Royal Flush
7. Three to a Straight Flush +2 Consecutive Suited Cards 6-7 or Higher
No Deuces? Better Luck Next Time ☹ No Deuces
1. Four or Five Cards to a Royal Flush
2. Four or Five Cards to a Straight Flush
3. Three Cards to a Royal Flush
4. Any Pair
5. Four Cards to a Flush
6. Four Cards to an Outside Straight
7. Three Cards to a Straight Flush
8. Four Cards to an Inside Straight
9. Two Cards to a Royal Flush – Jack, Queen High
10. Garbage – Discard Everything

 

Example Hands

Here are two examples using the strategy laid out above, just to be sure you are understanding the procedure correctly. We have skipped the hands with three or four Deuces, as both of those should be self-explanatory. If you are dealt four Deuces, you just need to hold all four of them. If you have three Deuces, you should hold all three and discard the remaining two cards unless they form a Wild Royal Flush.

Example One – Two Deuces

                    

 

For our first example, we have been dealt a pair of Deuces, along with two cards that could potentially contribute towards a Straight Flush. Remember, because the Deuces are wild, the five cards shown above can be thought of as being the 6, 7, 8, and 9 of clubs. In this scenario, we would hold every card except for the King of Diamonds, as instructed in step 3 of our guide for playing two Deuces.

You may wonder why we only play this way if the two suited cards are 6/7 or higher. Here’s an example: If you have the same two Deuces along with an Ace and 5 of clubs, your chances of hitting a Wild Straight Flush drop by 40%.

Why? Any Straight at the very top or very bottom of the rankings is regarded as an “inside” straight, which means there is only one possible card that can fill the gap. If you are dealt the cards above, you have six “outs” to complete your straight flush – either of the remaining Deuces, as well as the 4, 5, 6, and 9 of clubs. On the other hand, if your hand was A/2/2/5/K, your outs are reduced to just four – the remaining Deuces, plus the 3 and 4 of clubs. Two cards may not seem like much, but it has a huge effect on your chances of completing the Wild Straight Flush.

 

Example Two – No Deuces

                     

 

How about if you are dealt no Deuces at all? Some players use a strategy of just discarding everything in this scenario for some reason – it’s common, so there must be a reason – perhaps it was published in a book at some point. Regardless of the reason, it is wrong. As you can see, discarding everything is the tenth and last option – the absolute last resort, after you have checked nine other possible options!

In our example hand, we have two high cards – these might be useful in Jacks or Better but have little value in Deuces Wild. On the other hand, we also have another three suited cards – the 4, 5, and 8 of hearts. This means we could potentially make a Straight Flush in Hearts.

Working our way down the list, we don’t have 4/5 cards to either of the premium Flushes, we don’t have three cards to a Royal Flush, and we don’t have any pairs. We’re close to four cards to a flush – but when it comes to gambling, close just isn’t close enough.

We don’t have four cards to an Outside Straight either, which brings us to option number 7 – three cards to a Straight Flush. This matches our hand, so we will hold the three hearts and discard the Ace of Spades and the Queen of Clubs.

In Jacks or Better, the odds of us hitting our Straight Flush from this position would be somewhere in the region of 1,081 to 1. With the addition of four Deuces in the deck, our odds increase dramatically. This is the beauty of Deuces Wild.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the better bet? Deuces Wild or Blackjack?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to answer this question accurately without knowing the exact rules and paytables involved. Assuming both games are “Full Pay”, Deuces Wild should pay better.

Having checked at my local casino, both their Blackjack and Deuces Wild are advertised as having 0.44% house edge. Which of these two games is most likely to result in a winning session?

The simple answer would be that it doesn’t matter. However, one aspect that many people don’t consider is that once you have mastered the strategy of your favorite Video Poker game you may well be able to play more than 250 hands per hour with ease! The average number of hands per hour at a fully seated Blackjack table is usually around 50. Because of this, the house edge will eat away at your bankroll much quicker while playing Video Poker!

How can I be sure I am getting a fair game while playing Video Poker? It seems too easy for the computer to just decide “You Lose!”.

You are right to say that it is worryingly easy for the developers of these games to mess with the payouts any time they please. This was (in part) the reason why the United States enacted the UIGEA and the sole reason behind the creation of the regulators and licensing authorities which oversee the industry throughout much of the rest of the world.

As long as you are playing at a site with a high-quality license (or two), you can relax about this – these companies are making so much money already just from the house edge that risking their operating license by cheating one player out of a few dollars would is way too risky – and completely unnecessary.

My local casino offers Video Poker with a Progressive Jackpot. Is this a good bet?

As an example, if you play the 25c denomination on a Deuces Wild game with an advertised house edge of 0.46% or better, the RTP will begin to exceed 100% once the progressive jackpot exceeds $1220. You won’t be the only one hunting for machines like this, however, so you may have to wait for your turn at these machines!

Is Deuces Wild the best variation of Video Poker?

In terms of the house edge, Deuces Wild machines will definitely be amongst the most profitable cabinets/games at any casino, both land-based and online. That being said, I don’t find Deuces Wild to be the most fun variation of the game personally.

What size bankroll would you advise for a full evening’s session playing Deuces Wild?

Ideally, you should have enough money for 1,000 hands at your preferred stakes. If you are playing 5c denominations, that means 25c per hand, or $250. Moving up to the higher denominations, keeping enough cash on hand for 1,000 hands can be very expensive. If you want to play quarters, you are going to need a bankroll of $1,250. If you can’t afford this, either step down to the 10c denomination or wait until you have more spare cash on hand. Never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.

The list you provided of what to do when I have a certain number of Deuces has proved invaluable when playing online. Can I print this out and take it to the casino?

It’s not illegal, and Blackjack players use similar “cheat sheets” at the table all the time. I can’t imagine you having any issues doing this. It won’t be long before you can recognize what to do the moment you see your cards appear on screen though, so it won’t be long before this becomes a moot point.

Is it possible to count cards whilst playing Deuces Wild Video Poker?

This is not possible because the cards are shuffled after each hand. You do get a little information in that any cards which you do not hold are placed on a virtual discard pile, and so cannot appear again when you hit the “draw” button.

This is not enough to be statistically significant, however, particularly since the closer you are to a great hand, the more cards you will be holding.

Blackjack is unique amongst casino card games because the discard pile contains a lot of information about which cards remain in the pack, pack(s), or shoe. A double-deck game with generous rules and several players can be a breeze to beat, as you can gain so much information about the remaining cards through counting.

A skilled player can also take advantage of this effect in a full-ring game of Seven Card Stud, as there is a maximum of 21 cards placed face-up on the table at any one time. Unlike Blackjack, in table poker games, you are betting against the other players at the table rather than the house. Counting in this situation is considered “bad sportsmanship”.

I’m told that Bonus Poker and Double Bonus Poker are superior to Deuces Wild – is this true?

These games are often compared because they all have high payouts for special four-of-a-kind hands. Bonus Poker pays the same 200 coins for hitting four deuces at Deuces Wild, but it also pays 400 coins for hitting Four Aces.

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