One of the major attractions of video poker is that players can determine the average return of any game with the information available on the game’s pay table.

The term “full-pay” is often used to describe games that have the best returns.

This article explores “full-pay” video poker games, their history, and current landscape for these sought-after games.

Table of Contents

1. Origin of Video Poker Games

When video poker games were in their infancy, game makers were not aware of the math used to determine each game’s return. In fact, in order to be able to tell casino management this critical piece of information, game manufacturers hired people to play their games and recorded the results.

Remember, this happened decades ago when corporate accounting types were not in control of casinos. Management wanted to get players into their casinos. They wanted people to play these games.

Because of this, early pay tables were generally very good.

2. Enter Corporate Accountants

Over time, a majority of casino management was assumed by large corporations. Corporations use accountants to help them manage. Increasing profits tends to be the order of the day. 

When the accountants saw the low casino’s take from video poker, pay tables were changed to increase their profits.

The original (higher-return) pay tables became known as full-pay. The new, reduced return pay tables became known as short-pay or low-pay.

Video Poker

3. The Term “Full-Pay”

Since the early days of video poker, dozens of games with scores of pay tables have been developed and put on the casino floors – and in online casinos.

With so many new games and pay table variations, the term “full-pay” has come to mean the highest paying variant of a video poker game. Anything paying less is called short-pay or low-pay.

4. Pay Table Changes Causing Full-Pay to Become Short-Pay

As mentioned above, pay tables were changed to increase casino profits. Which winning hands had their pays reduced?

The casinos realized that for most jacks or better based games, simply reducing the amount paid for a full house or a flush by one credit would net the casino better than 1% additional profit.

For almost all of these games, the pay for either the full house or the flush (or both) is reduced.

This is not the case for deuces wild games, however. Since there are four wild cards, full house and flush hands are much more common. Almost any pay table line is subject to change in deuces wild games.

Video Poker

5. Examples of Jacks or Better Based Full-Pay and Short-Pay Tables

Jacks or Better

Full-pay 9/6 Jacks or Better
99.54 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4-of-a-kind  25
Full House 9
Flush 6
Straight 4
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 2
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

Notice the return is nearly 100 percent. For every $100 played through the game, the casino gets only $0.46

Short-pay 9/5 Jacks or Better
98.44 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4-of-a-kind  25
Full House 9
Flush 5
Straight 4
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 2
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Short-pay 8/6 Jacks or Better
98.39 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4-of-a-kind  25
Full House 8
Flush 6
Straight 4
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 2
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Short-pay 8/5 Jacks or Better
97.29 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4-of-a-kind  25
Full House 8
Flush 5
Straight 4
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 2
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

Notice the 1%-plus reduction in the return for each one credit reduction in the full house or flush pays.

Double Bonus Poker

Full-pay 10/7 Double Bonus
100.17 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces  160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 10
Flush 7
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Short-pay 9/7 Double Bonus
99.10 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces  160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 9
Flush 7
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Short-pay 10/6 Double Bonus
98.88 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces  160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 10
Flush 6
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Short-pay 9/6 Double Bonus
97.80 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces  160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 9
Flush 6
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

Notice the same 1%-plus reduction in return for each one credit reduction in the full house or flush pays.

Double-Double Bonus

Full-pay 10/7 Double Bonus
100.17 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces w/2, 3, or 4 400
4 2-4 w/Ace, 2, 3, or 4 160
4 Aces 160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 10
Flush 6
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Full-pay 9/6 Double Bonus
98.98 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces w/2, 3, or 4 400
4 2-4 w/Ace, 2, 3, or 4 160
4 Aces 160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 9
Flush 6
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

 

Short-pay 9/5 Double Bonus
97.87 Percent Return
Hand Pays (per credit)
Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
4 Aces w/2, 3, or 4 400
4 2-4 w/Ace, 2, 3, or 4 160
4 Aces 160
4 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 80
4 5’s thru Kings 50
Full House 9
Flush 5
Straight 5
3-of-a-kind 3
Two Pair 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1

A short-lived 10/6 version of Double-Double Bonus was initially available. It is no longer to be found. 9/6 is now considered full-pay.

Notice the same 1%-plus reduction in return for each one credit reduction in the full house or flush pays.

6. Summary 

  • Most of the original video poker games had very high returns.
  • Pay tables were changed in order to increase casino profits.
  • Original games’ high-paying pay tables became known as full-pay.
  • Reduced return games became known as short-pay.
  • Currently, the highest-paying game available is considered full-pay.
  • For jacks or better based games, each one credit reduction in the full house or flush pays reduces the return by more than 1%.
     
About the Author
By

Jerry “Stickman” has been involved in casino gambling for nearly 30 years. He is an expert in blackjack, craps, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He started playing blackjack in the late ‘80s, learned several card counting systems and used these skills to become an advantage blackjack player and overall winner of this game. He also acquired the skills necessary to become an overall winner in the game of craps, accomplishing this by a combination of throwing skill and proper betting techniques. Stich is also an overall winner playing video poker.