Smart video poker players shop for the best payback percentage available on their game of choice. A Double Double Bonus Poker player will choose a 9-6 pay table if available over 9-5 or 8-5 games.
Top pay tables have become less widely available than they once were. Max Action video poker from IGT leaves the question, “How much extra would you bet to get a higher payback percentage?”
On Max Action machines, you can make five-coin wagers and get standard pay tables on video poker favorites such as Double Double Bonus Poker, Bonus Poker and Jacks or Better. But if you activate the Max Action feature by betting anywhere from six to 10 coins, payoffs are increased on most hands and the payback percentage rises.
How much do the paybacks increase?
If you start at 9-5 Double Double Bonus Poker, a 97.87 percent game with expert play, Michael Shackelford calculates at wizardofodds.com that the payback rises to 97.90 percent if you bet six coins, 97.92 for a seven-coin bet, 97.96 for eight, 98.07 for nine and 98.41 percent for 10.
At no point does the return catch up to the 98.98 percent on 9-6 Double Double Bonus. If the higher pay table is available elsewhere in the casino, you’re better off taking it.
Here’s the way it works, using 9-5 DDB as an example.
When you make the extra bets, paybacks stop growing at the bottom of the pay table. High pairs and two pairs, which pay five coins for a five-coin bet, still pay only five coins even if you bet the maximum 10.
Three of a kind, normally a 3-for-1 pay that returns 15 for five coins, stays 15 for six, then grows to 20 for seven or eight and 25 for 9 or 10.
Straights bring the standard 20 for a five-coin bet, but shoot up to 30 for six or seven and 40 for eight or more. Flushes, good for 25 coins for five wagered on 9-5 Double Double Bonus, soar to 40 for six, 45 for seven and 60 for eight or more.
Full house pays increase with each coin wagered, from 45 for five to 60, 65, 75, 90 and 100.
Straight flushes progress from 250 to 400, 600, 700 and 800, staying at the same 800 for 10 coins as for nine.
The prime attraction of Max Action comes at four of a kind. Starting with five-coin returns, four 5s through Kings soar from 250 to 375, 500, 625, 750 and 1,000. With four 2s through 4s, it’s 400, 600, 800, 1,000, 1,200 and 1,500, and four Aces with a 5 through KIng bring 800, 1,200, 1,600, 2,000, 2,400 and 3,000.
With an Ace, 2, 3 or 4 as a kicker, four 2s through 4s bring the same increased returns as Aces with a 5 through King. Four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 bring us to prime time, with five-coin payoffs of 2,000 zooming to 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 and 8,000.
Royal flushes also bring 8,000 coins for a 10-coin bet, but stay at 4,000 regardless of whether you wager is five, six, seven, eight or nine coins.
The result is a game with increased volatility compared to standard Double Double Bonus Poker. High pairs, which account for 21.21 percent of the payback on standard 9-5 DDB, make up only 9.26 percent of the return on the Max Action version with a 10-coin wager.
When the quads are coming, you’ll love Max Action. When they’re not, chances are you’ll be looking for a different game fairly quickly.