All cards come with instructions sheets explaining the specific game as well as a general instruction sheet explaining how to use my cards. The standard size for all cards is "shirt pocket sized" with dimensions of 3.5"x5". This is large enough to read in a pretty dim casino, but still small enough to carry comfortably.
Suprisingly, this game is still to be found in Atlantic City (as of Spring 2008) in both quarters and dollars. Although cash back is quite low, the game can still be a good play when the jackpot gets high enough. The game reaches break even at 976 bets ($1220 in quarters, $4880 in dollars).My penalty-free break even strategy is less than 0.005% from optimal and is no more difficult than regular 9/6 Jacks (but you do have to watch out for the differences). On the back of the card, I also provide a strategy for when the Jackpot rises to make the game worth almost 100.5% (at 1149 bets ($1496 quarters, $5745 in dollars). Unlike my other progressive strategies, I am putting this one on a single two-sided card because the typical slow meter rates make strategies for higher jackpot values so rare.
Although this game is not widely available, it is worth looking for. With five jokers in the deck, it is not surprising the break-even hand is trips. The game has a slightly higher EV than 9/6 Jacks or Better and actually has a lower variance. Granted, the strategy is more difficult, but it is easier than most wild card games.
The pay table to look for is 1 (trips), 2 (straight or flush), 3 (full house), 4 (quads), 9 (straight flush), 15 (quints), 20 (wild royal flush), 40 (four jokers), 800 (natural royal flush) and 800 (five jokers). Sometimes the five joker payout is a progressive, which can make the game positive when the jackpot gets above 1520 bets. Also, of course, cash back can help.
As a bonus, this card is being offered with another game on the back that is often found as a progressive in Atlantic City, Joker Wild 5 of a Kind, which is described below.
This card does not contain new strategies, but combines two of my most popular strategies on a single card for more value: 9/6 Jacks or Better is on one side and Pick'em is on the other. These are two of the easiest playing games with good EV that are still widely available.
This card another card I've created to give the player more value. All American, one of the highest paying games you are likely to find outside of Nevada, is on one side, and 10/7 Double Bonus is on the other. You should be aware that both of these strategies are quite difficult, but worth knowing if you are lucky enough to run across the games.
This card contains two varieties of Double Bonus: the recently introduced version of 9/6 Double Bonus that pays double (1600) units on a Royal Flush plus the commonly found 9/7 Double Bonus.
This game escaped my notice for a while because 9/6 DB is generally not playable. It turns out that by doubling the jackpot to 1600 units ($2000 on quarters), the EV is boosted all the way to 100.09%, making it one of the few off-the-top positive games in AC. My strategy card (using no penalty rules) is still within 0.005% of optimal. I think it is a good bit easier than 10/7 DB (because the 3 card flush hands fall into fewer categories). The full pay schedule is 1 (JJ-AA), 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, [80,50,160], 50, 1600. (As usual, [80,50,160] means 80 for Quads 2-4, 50 for Quads 5-K, and 160 for Quad Aces.)
If you can't find a full pay Double Bonus game, you might be able to track down a 9/7 machine instead (I would avoid 9/6 or worse). The 9/7 machine reduces the pay off for a full house to 9 units, but keeps everything else the same. The expectation for my best basic strategy for this game is 99.097%. With a good cash back plan and other comps this can be worth playing.
This card covers both 9/6 and 8/5 Jacks or Better.
This is the old reliable, with a pay table of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 25, 50, 800. This version is often referred to as "Full pay Jacks or Better" or "9/6 Jacks". (The 9/6 refers to the pay outs on full house and flush.) Note that the pay out for a Royal assumes you are betting 5 coins as your unit, which you should always do if you intend to win.
My best basic strategy for this game gives an expectation of 99.543%. This is the most widely available decent-paying Jacks or Better machine across the country. The slightly-below-even expectation can easily be made up with cash back and comps.
My 8/5 Jacks or Better strategy is included with 9/6 simply because I already had created it for a friend that doesn't have access to full-pay video poker. The reduction in the pay out, even with strategy adjustments, keeps the expectation at a measly 97.296%. I recommend playing this one only as a diversion.
Commonly found around the US is a game that can be profitable if the Jackpot is large enough: 8/5 Jacks or Better Progressive. The pay table is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 25, 50, JP. The $.25 machine becomes break-even when JP=$2167 (actually, it's positive when you include cash back). When it reachs $2575, it pays a very reasonable 101% expected return. In order to take maximal advantage of opportunities, I actually provide four strategies (front and back of two cards) for Progressive Draw (8/5) for even, 0.5%, 1% and 1.5% advantage situations. The cards tell you when to switch from one to the other so you can play as close to optimal as possible at all Jackpot levels.
Bonus Poker differs from standard Jacks or Better in that it pays "bonuses" for certain quads. In particular, Quads 2's, 3's and 4's pay 40 bets (instead of the normal 25) and Quad Aces pay 80. [I'm always referring to the 8/5 version (8 on full house, 5 on flush) version here.] The base game isn't all that attractive (99.16%), but when available as a progressive it can often become quite positive. My strategy cards provide strategies that are within 0.005% of optimal at four levels: Break even (1118 units), 0.5% (1431 units), 1% (1733 units) and 2% (1784 units). By switching at the indicated points, you can stay very close to optimal over a very large range of jackpot values.
Note: In Atlantic City this game is available in a 3-play variety. It has the added attraction that the Royal starts at an average value of 880 units (and so it more likley to get into positive territory) and also has a super-jackpot (Royal on all three lines) that can add a lot to the EV when it climbs high enough. This variety might also be available at other locations, although I haven't seen it myself.
A favorite in Nevada, this great paying game is hard to find on the east coast. The pay schedule is 1(3K), 2 (Str & Fl), 3(FH), 5(4K), 9(SF), 15(5K), 25(WRF), 200(4 deuces), 800(NRF). Watch out for short pays, especially on 4 of a kind.
Once you get used to it, the strategy for FPDW is pretty easy to play. Amazingly, I was able to get an EV of 100.761% for my strategy using only two, fairly simple penalty rules. That's within 0.001% of optimal. (For a $1 player playing 800 hands an hour at max coins, the EV difference is less than a nickle an hour!)
This machine has an unusual pay table because straight, flush and full house all pay the same amount (8 units). It provides an attractive advantage off the top (over 0.7%!), but is very difficult to play well because the strategy is so different from more normal games (the high paying straights are the root cause of this). The pay table is 1, 1, 3, 8, 8, 8, 40, 200, 800. The optimal strategy for this game gives an expectation of 100.722%, while my best basic strategy is off by only 0.005%, (100.717%).
Because the full strategy is so complex, I've added a simpler strategy on the back of this card that still gives a healthy advantage (0.692%), while being somewhat easier to play. I suggest using the simpler strategy until you've mastered it and can then move on to the full advantage strategy. Or, you might elect to stay with the simpler strategy, since it gives up only 0.03% compared to optimal.
Two variations of Double Bonus are given on the front and back of this card, 10/7 and the even better 10/7 DB with 80 on Straight flush.
"Full pay" Double Bonus is found many places in Las Vegas (I'd be interested in hearing sitings of this game in other locales). The pay table is 1,1,3,5,7,10,[80,50,160],50,800. The Quad pay off is 80 units for Quad 2's, 3's and 4's, 160 units for Quad Aces and 50 units for the rest. My strategy (no penalty decisions required) gives an expectation of 100.164% (off optimal by just over 0.005%). This is only slightly positive, but it can be quite profitable with cash back plus comps.
At 100.513% (within 0.006% of optimal), this is a great game if you can find it (mostly in Las Vegas on quarter machines). It's worth having with you in case you happen to run into one. The complete pay schedule is 1, 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, [80,50,160], 80, 800.
The 9/5 version of Double Jokers (9 for four of a kind, 5 for full house) can be found from $.25 to $5 in Atlantic City. The full pay schedule is 1(TP), 2(3K), 3(Str), 4(Fl), 5(FH), 9(4K), 25(SF), 50(5K), 100(WRF), 800(NRF). Although the game is slightly negative (my strategy gives 99.965%), it is quite playable with decent cash back. (Don't be tempted by the 8/5 version, which returns barely over 98%.)
Double Joker games appear to require the use of penalty card rules to get EV close to optimal. I was able to whittle down the penalty rules to six to get my stated EV (which is within 0.005% of optimal). Double Jokers is a difficult game to master, but the payback makes it worth the work.
A couple of people pointed out to me that there is another good Double Joker variant in AC. This one drops the quad payout to 8, but compensates by raising the full house to 6. It turns out the my standard 9/5 DJ strategy works well for this variation, giving 99.929% compared to 99.939% for optimal. I've put a note in my instructions that will let you squeeze out a bit more EV. Unless there is strong demand I don't plan to make a special card for this variation.
One of the most wide-spread games in Atlantic City, JW5K,
as I call it,
is often offered as a progressive. The pay schedule is
1(TP), 2(3K), 4(St), 5(Fl), 8(FH), 16(4K), 100(SF), and
progressive jackpot (reset 800) for five of a kind.
Note that a Royal Flush is treated the same as any Straight Flush.
Although the game is only 97.19% at
reset, it can quickly reach break even at 1110 bets ($1388
in quarters). Because the jackpot is paid on five of a kind
(and not a royal), a single strategy is sufficient even as
the jackpot grows.
Note: My Hi-Lo Royal strategy (below) is included on the reverse.
One of the more unusual games, Hi-Lo Royal is a Jacks or
Better variant that pays a jackpot (800) units on what is
called a "Lo Royal": 65432s. This makes the game a bit
tricky to play, but the EV is 99.796% (better than 9/6
Jacks) and is playable with cash back.
The full pay schedule is
1(JJ+), 2(TP), 3(3K), 4(St), 5(Fl), 6(FH), 40(4K), 50(SF), and
800 for Hi or Lo Royal.
My strategy does not use penalty cards, and yet is only slightly
more than 0.001% from optimal.
Note: My JW5K strategy (above) is included on the reverse.
This card contains both Pick'em Poker, described below, and Double Down Stud, covered a bit later. Most of the value of the card is from Pick'em.
This game is a unique mixture of stud and draw: You are dealt four cards, two of which are "fixed", and two other "third" cards that you choose between. The unchosen card is discarded and then you get two more cards to complete a five card hand. The pay table is 2 (for a pair of 9's or better), 3, 5, 11, 15, 18, 120, 240, 1200. This looks amazing until you realize that it's hard to make premium hands when you have to hold the first two cards you are dealt.
Although there are some stand-alone machines in Las Vegas, all those I've spotted in Atlantic City are on multi-gamers ($.25 to $1.00). It's likely that the game will continue to spread as new machines are added to the casinos. The good thing about the game is that it pays 99.9536% with computer perfect play --- and that level is achievable using my cards. Variance is low too, because the straight flush and royal together add less than 1% to the total EV. However, 66% of hands are non-winners, so be prepared spend some bucks between quads ($150 on quarters) and the rare straight flush. With good cash back, this is the game of choice in AC for quarter players.
Warning!A newer version of Pick'em is now becoming widespread. Unfortunately, it cuts the EV down to below 98% by shorting the payoffs for straight and flush. The Royal payout (a very rare hand indeed for this game) is usually raised to 2000 units, but this is not nearly enough compensation. With a poor payout and low variance this version will eat your bankroll with ease.
I've included this game to fill up the back of Pick'em Poker because it is a somewhat-similar game. You are dealt four cards and then have the chance to double your bet (if you wish) before being dealt the fifth card. The pay table of 1 (66-TT), 2 (JJ-KK), 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 50, 200, 2000 probably looks good to the uninformed, and the strategy is actually quite easy. The downside is that even with perfect play (which my strategy gives), the EV is only 97.28%.