Shockwave Video Poker is a unique style of Jacks or Better video poker. There are two different modes of play – normal and Shockwave. The normal mode is exactly what it sounds like – normal Jacks or Better play. It accounts for well over 90 percent of play. The game operates in normal mode until a four-of-a-kind hit. It then enters “Shockwave” mode for ten plays or until another four-of-a-kind occurs, whichever happens first. And here is where it gets exciting. In Shockwave mode a four-of-a-kind pays the same as a royal flush. The complete paytable information for the 12/8/5 full-pay version is below. There are three different paytables; one for normal mode, one for Shockwave mode and a combined pay table.

Note: the green-shaded cells represent improved pays, the red-shaded cells represent reduced pays compared to standard Jacks or Better games.

Shockwave Poker - Full Pay (Normal Mode)
Payback: 95.24%, Variance: 19.8%
Hand 1 Coin 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 4000
Straight Flush 100 500
4 of a Kind 25 125
Full House 12 60
Flush 8 40
Straight 5 25
3 of a Kind 3 15
2 Pair 1 5
Jacks or Better 1 5
Hand 5 Coins Pay Occurs Every % Return
Royal Flush 4000 45,814 1.75
Straight Flush 500 7,468.8 1.34
4 of a Kind 125 438.1 5.71
Full House 60 89.9 13.35
Flush 40 58.7 13.63
Straight 25 67.9 7.36
3 of a Kind 15 14.2 21.12
2 Pair 6 8.2 12.23
Jacks or Better 5 5.3 18.75
No Win 0 1.7 0
Shockwave Poker – Full-Pay – (Shockwave Mode)
Payback: 290.00 Percent, Variance: 1,683.1
Hand 1 Coin 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 4000
Straight Flush 100 500
4 of a Kind 250 4000
Full House 12 60
Flush 8 40
Straight 5 25
3 of a Kind 3 15
2 Pair 1 5
Jacks or Better 1 5
Hand 5 Coins Pay Occurs Every % Return
Royal Flush 4000 49,854.6 1.6
Straight Flush 500 9,253.2 1.08
4 of a Kind 4000 382.3 209.33
Full House 60 146.6 8.18
Flush 40 100.2 7.98
Straight 25 98.9 5.06
3 of a Kind 15 12 25.05
2 Pair 5 10.4 9.64
Jacks or Better 5 4.5 22.07
No Win 0 1.8 0
Shockwave Poker – Full-Pay – (Combined)
Payback: 99.59 Percent, Variance: 22.6
Hand 1 Coin 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 4000
Straight Flush 100 500
4 of a Kind 44 220
Full House 12 60
Flush 8 40
Straight 5 25
3 of a Kind 3 15
2 Pair 1 5
Jacks or Better 1 5
Hand 5 Coins Pay Occurs Every % Return
Royal Flush 4000 46,237.4 1.73
Straight Flush 500 7,909.5 1.26
4 of a Kind 125 435.6 10.10
Full House 60 89.5 13.41
Flush 40 59.3 13.49
Straight 25 68.6 7.29
3 of a Kind 15 14.1 21.27
2 Pair 5 8.1 12.3
Jacks or Better 5 5.3 18.74
No Win 0 1.7 0

Notice the very high return and astronomical variance for shockwave mode. However, the game is only in Shockwave mode for about 9.8 plays once every 435 hands, so the impact on the combined paytable is minor.

Some of the major differences between Shockwave and standard Jacks or Better are:

  • A straight flush occurs 15 percent more often but contributes 129 percent more thanks to the hand paying twice as much.
  • A four-of-a-kind occurs roughly the same amount, but it contributes 71 percent more.
  • A flush occurs 54 percent more often and contributes over 100 percent more.
  • A straight occurs 31 percent more often and contributes 62 percent more.
  • A hand containing two pair occurs roughly the same amount but contributes only about half the amount of standard Jacks or Better.

When playing Shockwave, the two most noticeable changes from standard Jacks or Better are:

  • A hand of two pairs pays even money.
  • The excitement of the Shockwave mode.

Several different short-pay versions are available. Due to the return percentages, there are only two of them that I recommend while playing video poker:

  • Full-Pay (12/8/5) with a combined return of 99.59 percent.
  • Short-Pay (11/8/5) with a combined return of 98.48 percent.

SHOCKWAVE PLAYING STRATEGY

To properly play Shockwave Poker, you want to be aggressive chasing four-of-a-kinds since that starts Shockwave mode. In Shockwave mode you are very aggressive chasing four-or-a-kinds since they pay as much as a royal flush.

The video poker strategy is identical for either the full-pay (12/8/5) or the short-pay (11/8/5) versions of the game. The simplified Normal mode strategy follows.

Strategy For Normal Mode Full-Pay (12/8/5) and Short-Pay (11/8/5) Shockwave Poker
4-of-a-Kind or Better
4-card Royal Flush
Flush or Better
4-card Open Straight Flush – Suited 2345-9TJQ
3-of-a-Kind or Better
Any 4-card Straight Flush incl. Inside
Two Pair
4-card Flush – 3 High Cards
Suited QJT
4-card Flush – 2 High Cards
Suited KQJ
Any 4-card Flush
Any 3-card Royal Flush except AhT
High Pair – JJ-AA
Any 3-card Royal Flush
KQJT, QJT9 (Straights)
Suited JT9
JT98 (Straight)
Suited QJ9
3-card Open Straight Flush – Suited 345-89T
Any 4-card Open Straight, 0 High Cards – 2345-789T
3-card Inside Straight Flush 1 Gap-1 High/2 Gaps-2 High
Low Pair 22-TT
3-card Inside Straight Flush, 1 Gap-o High Cards
AKQJ (Straight)
Any 3-card Inside Straight Flush
Any 4-card Inside Straight, 1 Gap, 3 High Cards
89T (Straight)
Any 3-card Flush, 2 High Cards
Any 2-card Royal Flush, 2 High cards
Any 4-card Inside Straight, 2 High Cards
Any 3-card Inside Straight Flush
KQJ (Not Suited)
3-card Flush, 1 High Card
Suited JT
QJT
Any 4-card Inside Straight except 0 High Cards
Suited QT
QJ (Not Suited)
Suited KT
KQ, KJ (Not Suited)
Suited J9
AJ, J, AQ
Suited AT
Q, AK, K, A
Any 4-card Inside Straight
3-card Flush, 0 High Cards
Any 2-card Open Straight Flush, 0 High Cards – 45-9T

While that is quite a complex strategy, the strategy for Shockwave mode is simpler.

Strategy For Shockwave Mode Full-Pay (12/8/5) and Short-Pay (11/8/5) Shockwave Poker
4-of-a-Kind or Better
3-of-a-Kind
4-card Royal Flush
Flush or Better
4-card Open Straight Flush – Suited 2345-9TJQ
Straight or Better
Any 4-card Straight Flush incl. Inside
High Pair – JJ-AA
Low Pair – 22-TT
Two Pair
Suited QJT, KQJ
Any 4-card Flush
Any 3-card Royal Flush
KQJT, QJT9 (Straights)
Suited JT9
89TJ (Straight)
Suited QJ9
Any 3-card Open Straight Flush – Suited 345-89T
Any 4-card Open Straight – 2345-789T
Any 3-card Straight Flush except 2 gaps, 0-1 High Cards
Suited QJ
AKQJ (Straight)
Suited KQ, KJ
J, Q
Suited AK, AQ, AJ
K, A
3-card Inside Straight Flush, 2 Gaps, 1 High Card
Any 4-card Inside Straight, 3 High Cards
Any 3-card Inside Straight Flush
Any 4-card Inside Straight, 2 High Cards
KQJ (Straight)

SUMMARY

The relatively low variance for the combined mode and the relatively high returns for the full-pay version make Shockwave a decent game to play – if you can handle switching strategy during the Shockwave mode. Keep in mind, however, that most of the time you are playing in standard mode which has a house edge of 4.76 percent. Also, you will hit a four-of-a-kind in Shockwave mode only once in every 40-45 times you play it. Your video poker bankroll will be drawn down more quickly. So, if you want to play Shockwave Poker, make sure you have the bankroll and can handle the emotional aspect of losing fairly quickly until you hit those quads in Shockwave mode.

If so, you should enjoy the game since Shockwave video poker adds the excitement of another jackpot-sized winner to the mix without the normal high variance. 

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.

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