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Deuces Wild: The king of video poker

• "Wild cards"
• The paytable
• Reduced pay on four of a kind - BEWARE!!
• Hand rank chart
• Frequencies and returns chart
• Bankroll
• Recommended casinos

RTG Deuces Wild - a four deuces hand, dealt pat

"Wild cards"

"Wild card" video poker games use either a joker or one of the standard cards, such as the four 2s or 7s, to act as cards which may be assigned the value that will produce the best possible hand they figure in - see below for an example:

Example of wild-card function

The ace pair alone doesn't make a paying hand in Deuces Wild; however, the "wild card" stands as the third ace in the final hand, making three of kind - three aces - and paying out at one for one.

Deuces Wild, in which the four 2s act as the wild cards, is one of the most popular of all video poker games, and in its full-pay format is also one of the highest paying, with an overall return of 100.76% with optimal play.

The paytable

The paytable is very different compared to Jacks Or Better:

dueces wild paytable

There is NO payoff for a high pair or two-pair. The first payoff, at 1:1, is for three of a kind. All the payoffs on the smaller hands are reduced because the four wild cards make those hands much more common. The first of the larger hands, the "wild royal", suited court cards with deuces, pays 25 to one - see below:

wild royal flush

There is a "mini jackpot" for four deuces (see the deuce quads image at the top of the page), paying 1000 coins - and this is one of the game's major attractions: deuces quads occurs approximately every five thousand hands, as opposed to the royal flush every 45,000 hands, and as such this "quarter royal" jackpot is quite a regular occurrence - twice as frequent as the straight flush in Jacks Or Better, and paying fully twenty times more - hence the game's popularity.

Reduced pay on four of a kind - BEWARE!!

Note VERY CAREFULLY the pay line for four of a kind:

Four of a kind, paying 5

In the VAST majority of versions of the game this pay line is reduced from 5 to 4. This may seem an innocuous change, but four of a kind counts for fully thirty two percent of the overall payout (see the hand frequency chart below); by reducing this hand by just one, the overall payout is reduced from 100.76% to just 94.3%!

Never play a game with quads shorted like this. There are some online games that attempt to compensate for this by increasing the payout on the other hands. These games can return up to approximately 99.5% overall, but they are still not to be recommended.

Hand rank chart

Another reason for Deuces Wild's popularity is the relative simplicity of the paytable, which comes from the fact that it can be divided up into four categories, from "no deuce" to "four deuces"; here it is:

0 Deuces

1. Natural royal flush
2. 4 to a royal flush
3. Straight flush
4. Four of a kind
5. Full house
6. Three of a kind
7. Straight/Flush
8. 4 to an outside straight flush
9. Suited 10-J-Q
10. 4 to an inside straight flush
11. 3 to a royal flush, except 10-J-Q
12. Pair
13. 4 to a flush
14. 4 to an outside straight
15. 3 to a straight flush, spread 3-4, suited 345
16. 2 to a royal flush, jack highest
17. 3 to a straight flush, spread 5 and suited 346,356
18. 4 to an inside straight
19. 2 to a royal flush, queen highest
20. 2 to a royal flush, king highest, no penalty cards (i.e. Suited or higher than 8)

1 Deuce

1. Wild royal flush
2. 5 of a kind
3. Straight flush
4. Four of a kind
5. 4 to a royal flush
6. Full house
7. 3 consecutive suited cards 5-6-7 or greater
8. 3 of a kind
9. Straight
10. Flush
11. All other 4 to a straight flush
12. 3 to a royal flush, highest card king or less
13. 2 consecutive suited cards, 6-7 or higher, + deuce
14. 3 to a royal flush, ace highest card, no penalty cards
15. Deuce only

2 Deuces

1. Wild royal flush
2. 5 of a kind
3. Straight flush
4. Four of a kind
5. 4 to a royal flush
6. 2 consecutive suited cards, 6-7 or higher, + deuces
7. 2 deuces only

3 Deuces

1. Wild royal flush
2. 3 deuces only, non-pair discarded
3. 3 deuces only, pair 9 or less discarded
4. 5 of a kind
5. 3 deuces only, pair 10 or greater discarded

4 Deuces

1. 4 deuces

There are a few very small exceptions to the above that really do not add significantly to the overall payout, which can be found on Michael Shakleford's Deuces Wild page.

Frequencies and returns chart

vp machine The hand frequencies and percentage returns chart below gives us an idea of the short-term payback of this game, and we can also use it to work out the payout on games with adjusted pay lines. The "frequency" column shows the average hit-rate of each hand (for example, the flush occurs once in every sixty hands) and the "percentage of return" column indicates the amount that each hand contributes to the overall game payout:

dueces wild frequencies and percentage returns chart
(Reproduction courtesy of Winpoker)

5% of the payout is reserved for those hands occurring from once in 4900 up - deuce quads and the royal - and as such this game is more volatile than Jacks Or Better, in which the "rare" hands account for only 2.5% of the overall return.

As I mentioned above, the 5 for 1 payout is crucial - not only because without it the game falls from 100.76% to 94.34% but also because the extreme concentration of the return on this one hand - 32.47% - coupled with its frequency - 1 in 15 - means that it uniquely affects the short-term play of the game more than any other hand: if quads are hitting over expectation you'll be riding high; if they're coming up short you'll be falling fast. Again, these are only short-term considerations but they're worth bearing in mind to help you weather the storm.

Another popular variation is the Deuces Wild game offered by Microgaming in multi-line format; there are three changes:

• Four of a kind down from 5 to 4 (the old favourite).

• Wild royal up from 25 to 45.

• Deuce quads up from 200 to 250.

The sum total of these variations is a loss of 1.88%, taking the game from 100.76% to 98.87% - although strategy changes taking into account those variations pushes it up to 99.37%. As with all Deuces Wild short-pay variants, avoid this game.


If you're playing a game with a return of less than 100%, then how much bankroll you have doesn't count for much in the long run - you'll always end up losing all your money. However, since Deuces Wild full pay has a return over 100% and we expect to WIN money in the long run, bankroll considerations become relevant: exactly how much is required to survive the short-term ups and downs?

For an excellent, in-depth discussion of this topic I highly recommend "Video Poker Optimum Play" by Dan Paymar - you can find a review on the gambling resources page. To cut to the chase: in order to have an almost guaranteed shot at hitting a royal flush you need a bankroll equivalent to three royal flushes. Playing at the five-cent denomination, this equates to $600. Of course, that isn't the whole story: if you ARE sufficiently unlucky to use up most of that $600 before the royal hits, then your bankroll would be standing at approximately $200 and to have another "almost guaranteed" shot at the next one, you'd need an extra $400 on top of that $200. However many royals you hit, you always need the "royal times three" bankroll to virtually gaurantee the next one. That said, by the time you've hit four or five royals, you have an excellent chance of being substantially ahead. In fact, after 200,000 hands of accurate play your expected win is approximately the value of two royals - $400.

Recommended casinos

  ♠ Sci-Fi Casino ♠

To the best of my knowledge Sci Fi is only online casino anywhere that offers full-pay Deuces Wild, and then only at the lowest denomination. The game requires careful selection: Video Poker / Wild Cards / Deuces Wild / 1 hand / 5 cents - see below, the correct selections are highlighted in green:

Location of Deuces Wild

ENSURE that you have the correct paytable. Remember that one? Check the payout on Four Of A Kind; if it's 5 (25 for maximum coins) you've got the right game. If it's 4 - get outta there!

This is far and away my favourite game of any - I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. For some examples of my own successes playing this game - at the dollar denomination, which, sadly, is no longer available in the full pay format - see the Gambler's Gallery.

Play well!

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