There comes a time when every Double Double Bonus Poker player faces a decision: To chase the Aces, or not to chase the Aces?

The major attraction of the game, regardless of whether you’re playing online or offline, is the huge 2,000-coin jackpot when you wager five coins and draw four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card. If you have a 5 or higher as the fifth card, then your return for four Aces is 800 coins when you bet five – the most frequent maximum bet on video poker games.

That combination pays 400-for-1, so for the standard five-coin maximum bet the return is 2,000 coins, or fully half as much as you’ll get on those all too rare royal flushes.

How aggressive should you be in chasing that jackpot? Should you hold a low card along with three Aces when drawing for the fourth Ace? Should you break up full houses that include three Aces? When you have two pairs, including two Aces, should you discard the other pair?

Let’s us 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker as an example, where the “9-6” refers to a 9-for-1 payback on full houses and 6-for-1 on flushes. With expert play, that game returns 98.98 percent – a house edge of just over 1 percent making it a game that gives you a fighting chance to win.

When the Aces come, you’ll win big. So let’s look at the best plays maximize your return.


The key to strategy in this situation is the need to balance opportunity to draw the big jackpot against maximize the frequency of drawing the fourth Ace.

With that in mind, the strategy that will get you the most out of Double Double Bonus is to hold three Aces and discard a kicker.

Let’s look at a breakdowns, using a starting hand composed of Aces of clubs, diamonds and hearts along with a 2 of spades and an 8 of hearts (A♣, A, A, 2♠, 8).

If you hold A-A-A-2, there are 47 possible draws, representing the 47 cards you didn’t see on the initial deal.

  • 43 draws do not improve the hand and leave you with three of a kind, each worth 15 coins.
  • 3 draws bring one of the other 2s. Each gives you a full house – Ace-Ace-Ace-2-2 – worth 45 coins
  • 1 draw brings the fourth Ace, making the final hand Ace-Ace-Ace-Ace-2 for the 2,000 coin jackpot.

The average return is 59.15 coins.

What if we maximize the chances at four Aces instead by holding A-A-A and discarding the 2 as well as the 8?

Then there are 1,081 possible draws:

  • 969 draws leave you at three of kind, each worth 15 coins.
  • 66 draws bring full houses, each worth 45 coins
  • 35 draws bring a fourth Ace but no low-card kicker, making each hand worth 800 coins.
  • 11 draws bring the fourth Ace as well as the low card for the 2,000-coin bankroll booster.

The average return is 62.45 coins.

If you hold Ace-Ace-Ace-2, every time you draw an Ace you’ll get the 2,000-coin pot. If you hold Ace-Ace-Ace without the 2, then sometimes the fourth Ace will bring an 800-coin payoff instead.

However, you improve the hand so much more often when you discard the 2 that the average payback is higher on Ace-Ace-Ace than if you hold the 2 with the Aces. Discarding the 2 is the smart play.


The answer is “yes,” even though it means sometimes you’ll settle for a lower payoff. 

If you hold a full house, your return is a nice, safe 45 coins.

If you hold three Aces and discard the other two cards, then the average return depends on just what you’re discarding. If that pair is 2s, 3s or 4s, then you have a lesser chance of drawing a low card kicker to go with a possible fourth Ace than if the discarded pair is 5s or higher.

Again, holding Ace-Ace-Ace and drawing two cards leaves 1,081 possible draws.

Regardless of the rank of low cards, those draws will include 968 three-of-a-kinds for 15 coins each and 67 full houses for 45 coins each.

If the discards are 5s or higher, such as Ace-Ace-Ace-5-5, then 34 draws will bring the fourth Ace with no low card for 800 coins and 12 will bring the fourth Ace with a 2, 3 or 4 for 2,000 coins. The average return is 63.58 coins.

If the discards are 2s, 3s or 4s, then 36 draws will bring the fourth Ace with no low card and only 10 will bring the fourth Ace with the low-card kicker. That reduces the average return to 61.36 coins.

Either way, the average return is higher if you break up the full house to go for the fourth Ace. If you can’t bring yourself to give up the certain 45 coins on the full house, it’s your decision, but the chance at the big 800- or 2,000-coin returns make holding Ace-Ace-Ace the better percentage play.


You’ve seen the principal on how video poker hands are evaluated: Every possible outcome is considered, and an average return calculated.

For this hand, let’s just go straight to the answer: Yes, it’s a better play to hold a pair of Aces and discard the other three cards than to hold a second pair.

Dealt Ace-Ace-2-2-7, the average return per five coins wagered is 9.51 coins when you hold Ace-Ace, compared to 8.40 for holding both pairs and 7.83 for holding one of the 2s along with the Aces.

The numbers are affected a bit by having low cards in the hand that then are unavailable for a jackpot hand if discarded. if the hand is Ace-Ace-7-7-2,  average returns are 9.58 coins on Ace-Ace, 8.40 on Ace-Ace-7-7, and 7.96 on Ace-Ace-2. If it’s Ace-Ace-7-7-5, average returns are 9.65 on Ace-Ace and 8.40 on Ace-Ace-7-7.

In every case, the highest return come from holding the Ace pair and discarding the rest.


  • DO NOT hold a low-card kicker along with three Aces.
  • DO break up a full house to hold three Aces and give yourself a chance at a four-Ace jackpot.
  • DO hold a pair of Aces and discard the other pair when dealt a pair of Aces.

For nearly 25 years, John Grochowski has been one of the most prolific gaming writers in the United States. He’s been ranked ninth by GamblingSites among the top 11 gambling experts at Gambling Sites and his Video Poker Answer Book was ranked eighth among the best gambling books of all time.