A Look at Double Double Bonus Poker Plus

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Perhaps this is a very old game, but I just saw it for the first time recently. It looked interesting, so I thought I’d analyze it.

I was playing $5 NSU Deuces at Harrah’s Cherokee and had just hit four deuces for a $5,000 jackpot. Always nice, but it’s a once-every-5,356-hands event on average, so it’s not all that rare.

While I was waiting to be paid, I checked the adjacent machine for games. I didn’t expect any better games than what I was playing, but regular scouting pays dividends. Sometimes you find something.

I found Double Double Bonus Poker Plus (DDB+). This was just like regular Double Double Bonus Poker (DDB), except that on four 5s-Ks with an A kicker, you get 400 instead of 250. They had the 9/6 version for $5 machines, 9/5 for $2 machines, and 8/5 for $1 machines.

When I got back to my hotel room, I analyzed it using WinPoker. I could have used Video Poker for Winners, but I rotate between them so as to stay sharp with both.

It turns out the DDB+ game is worth 99.45% versus 98.98% for DDB. For simplicity, I’ll remember that the DDB+ game adds a half-percent over DDB. It’s not exactly correct, but I’m unlikely to see this game in lots of places, so the simplification is accurate enough.

A 99.45% game could well be the best game in a casino. It’s not at Harrah’s Cherokee, but it’s looser than any game at some casinos.

The next step was for me to look at whether the strategy changes between the games.

First of all, there’s the obvious. Whenever I’m dealt 5555 – KKKK, I now need to look at the kicker. If it’s an ace, I hold all five cards. If it’s not an ace, I need to discard the kicker and draw. 

Then there’s the not-so-obvious. I started to look at the value of high pairs, like JJ, QQ, and KK. These combinations will go up in value by 3.7¢ for the five-coin dollar player. (Yes, I know the specific machine I found was $5 denomination rather than $1, but I like to use the $1 standard because it’s more understandable to more players. If you’re playing a different denomination, you can multiply or divide appropriately.)

For 3.7¢ to matter, the play has to be close. The only ones I could think of were hands like K♠ K♥ Q♥ J♥ 9♣ and Q♥ Q♣ J♣ T♣ 8♦. It turns out you hold KQJ in both games in the first example, but in the second example you hold QQ in DDB+ and QJT in regular DDB. 

These are advanced hands, to be sure, but that’s where all of the changes will be. It’s a 2.9¢ mistake to hold QJT in the second example above in DDB+. I would probably master that one, but it’s not earthshaking if you let it go. It only comes up one time in 108,000 hands or so.

I checked a few other hands where a pair might be slightly wrong in DDB and didn’t find any that changed in DDB+. If you find one, please post it in the “Comments” to this blog.

Next, I looked at holding a single A. The DDB+ pay schedule adds about 0.4¢ to the value of a single A. There aren’t many hands in this game where another combination is favored over a single A by less than that.

The hands I considered were A with KQ, A with QJ, and A with JT. I discovered that with A♠ K♥ J♣ 7♠ 3♠, the play in DDB is KJ and the play in DDB+ is A, but only by 0.03¢.

For the A versus QJ hands, I couldn’t find any differences in the way the two games are played.

I didn’t examine A versus JT, but I would if I were going to play the game seriously. Pointing out that there is a potential change here is enough. If you want to play this game, you’ll have to figure it out the rest of the way yourself. It’s not hard, but it does mean you need to install the game on some computer software and put in some hands and analyze them. Good players teach themselves how to do this. 

If you only use the wizardofodds.com free resource for your video poker analysis, unfortunately this game is not supported there. And unless it becomes a lot more popular than I think it is, it is likely never going to be supported there.

Unless you were going to play this game a lot for stakes that are meaningful to you, it doesn’t appear that changing the strategy you know for DDB is worth the price of learning a new strategy. 

One thing that is clear, though, is that if you’re a DDB player and can find a DDB+ game with the same return for the full house and the flush, you should definitely play DDB+. It’s just as much fun as DDB, plus it pays an extra half percent! 

If the only DDB+ game you can find returns less for either full house or flush than the available DDB game, it’s better to stick with the DDB game. It’s rarely the best game in a casino that is financially best for the player, but it is the most popular game.

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