Deuces Wild Strategies for Advanced Players With Examples

Deuces Wild is one of the most complicated forms of video poker out there. It’s hard enough to learn basic strategies for this incredibly deep game, but here, we make more advanced strategy more accessible by using example hands from real play.

Getting Started With Advanced Deuces Wild Play

Generally speaking, video poker games with wild cards available are more complicated than those without them. This is an issue of simple mathematics: Wild card games have many more situations to learn, but that’s not the whole story.

On a conceptual level, it’s also more difficult to learn strategies for wild card games because they are a bit more abstract with the availability of wild cards.

Playing with two or three (or even four) wild cards is actually really easy, and you could learn how to play those situations perfectly in just a few minutes and never make another mistake at those spots for the rest of your life.

However, when it comes to Deuces Wild strategies for having one or zero wilds, that’s when things get really complicated, and those are the types of spots we’re going to look at here.

Understanding the Pay Tables

The available pay tables for Deuces Wild vary more than probably any other type of online video poker. Because of this, we need to really put some emphasis on the fact that you need to pay attention to the pay tables and make sure that you aren’t playing a game in the first place that handicaps you.

If you look around online, then you can find pay tables that pay 98.5 percent or more, and if you’re patient, you can find games with payouts of 99 percent and up.

As a general rule, you should never play if the maximum payout rate is 98.5 percent or lower. The higher the better, but this is the cut-off point for the lower end of the available range.

Outside of that, the pay tables themselves are structured in pretty much the same ways. The hands are always in the same order, and they are always paid according to the same relative scale, more or less, except for some rare cases that are specialty games that are outside of the scope of what we’re looking at here.

With that understood, here is a basic overlook at the order of hands on the top of the pay table:

  • Natural Royal Flush
  • Four Deuces
  • Wild Royal Flush
  • Five of a Kind
  • Straight Flush

From there on down, the rest of the hands go in the usual order, but we want to point out that the differences here are due to the wilds. A Natural Royal Flush includes no deuces, and it gives a much higher payout than the wild version. Four deuces is a special version of five of a kind as well that pays much better than the usual version.

With that understanding out of the way, we’re going to get into some advanced strategies for Deuces Wild video poker and some example hands based on two categories: having one wild and having none.

Strategies for Having No Wild Cards

We’re going to start by looking at the most basic scenarios and what you can expect, and these are spots without any wilds.

There are two scenarios you can run into that will give you problems:

  1. You have no good options and can’t decide how to play your remaining cards.
  2. You have two (sometimes three) good options and can’t decide which of them is the best.

In the example hands below, we’re going to show how to play situations that follow these two particularly advanced cases and what you can do about them with no wilds in your hand.

Example Hand 1: AsQsJs5s5h

In this scenario, most players will look and see that they have two options: Keep the pair, or keep the four-card flush draw. Here are the average payouts for these two options:

  • Pair of Fives – 0.560x
  • Flush Draw (AQJ5) – 0.511x

From this, we can gain our first key lesson:

With no wild cards, a single pair is worth more than a flush draw (or a straight draw).

This is especially important to note since pairs aren’t worth much in this game since you need at least three of a kind to get a payout, which means no wins for two pair if you have a low pair like 55.

However, there’s a second lesson in this hand in a third way to play that most players miss almost all the time unless they’re familiar with it:

  • Three to a Royal (AQJ) – 1.272x

That’s well over twice the amount of value that you can get out of the next-best way to play, which is the pair of fives. In terms of advanced Deuces Wild strategy, consider the following:

With no wilds in your hand, three to a royal is better than a pair or a four-card draw that is not four to a straight flush.

What’s great about this example hand is that it shows you how to play a large number of hands in a concise way.

Example Hand 2: JsTh9h8h4c

This is the type of hand that a lot of players end up being confused by and often playing poorly because of the implications of having so many wild cards in the deck.

It’s clear from your first look that there are two potential ways to play: three to a straight flush or four to an open-ended straight draw.

Here are the average payouts:

  • Open-ended Straight Draw (JT98) – 0.511x
  • Three-card Straight-flush Draw 0.498x

What you’ll see here is that these two ways to play are very close in value. What’s interesting is that they are also both very reasonable ways to want to play this hand, so if you were only playing on a basic level, it wouldn’t matter that much which one you chose.

However, for advanced players, you need to know that three to a straight flush is slightly worse than four to an open-ended straight.

From here, we can lead into our third and final example hand for hands with no wild cards.

Example Hand 3: QhJh9d8d7c

This example shows a perfect case of not really having what seems like a good way to play and needing to try to figure things out the best you can from what little you have to work with.

However, it’s also an excellent case for what is really the fundamental premise of advanced strategy for hands without any wilds:

You need to know when it’s best to ditch a hand completely and draw five, and to do that, you need to know which hands are better than drawing five.

The key idea at play here is that keeping a single high card, or even two high cards, isn’t a valuable strategy in Deuces Wild. The reason for that is that, unlike games like Jacks or Better, you can’t get paid for a single pair, and that makes holding single non-wild cards a waste of value.

With that having been said, let’s look at the three ways possible to play this particular hand:

  • Two to a Royal (QJ) – 0.342x
  • Four to an Inside Straight (QJ98 or J987) – 0.340x
  • Discard Five – 0.320x

What’s interesting here is that the case of QJ-suited is actually better than drawing five, as is four to an inside straight.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that AT-suited by itself is a worse value than drawing five, so it’s not that two to a royal by itself is so great. The real issue is having two consecutive cards that are KQ/QJ/JT, which are the only two-card combinations like this that are better than discarding five and hoping for the best.

Likewise, any four to an inside straight draw is slightly better than discarding five.

Strategies for Having One Wild Card

Things get really interesting with one deuce in your hand because it makes the hand rankings a bit abstract and more draw-oriented. Everything about these hands comes down to how you play three types of straight flush draws, and all other hands are ranked essentially relative to those three types.

Before we jump in, we’re going to define these three types of straight flush draws that are relevant to our rankings:

  1. A major straight-flush draw – A deuce with three other consecutive cards that are 5/6/7 and up
  2. A minor straight-flush draw – Every other type of straight flush draw with four cards (including a deuce)
  3. A three-card straight-flush draw – A deuce with two additional consecutive cards 6/7 and up

All other three-card straight-flush draws are going to be ignored here and treated as junk for the sake of these advanced strategies. With that out of the way, let’s look at some examples.

Example Hand 4: 2s9h8h7h3h

This first example hand is pretty straightforward. You have two ways to play your hand, but most players would always just go with the flush without discarding any. However, consider the numbers:

  • Major Straight-flush Draw – 2.213x
  • Flush – 2x

What you see is that, even though the flush is a sure thing, the major straight-flush draw is even better and scores more than 10 percent better. This leads us to an important rule:

With one wild, major straight-flush draws are worth more than made flushes or straights.

From there, we can look at our next example and get a really good idea of how to play most difficult hands with a single wild in them in Deuces Wild.

Example Hand 5: 2s9h8h6h3h

We have only changed one card in this hand, but it actually makes a really big difference. Since the 9/8/6 cluster are not of consecutive ranks, this becomes a minor straight-flush draw, and it leads to the following two ways to play the hand:

  • Flush – 2x
  • Minor Straight-flush Draw – 1.936x

From this, we can see that major straight-flush draws are better than made straights and flushes, but minor straight-flush draws are lower.

You’ll also see that the margins we’re dealing with here are pretty small, but they’re very substantial. The difference between a flush and a minor straight-flush draw is about 6.4 percent of your bet size, which may not seem like a lot, but if you make that mistake over and over again, then it really adds up.

Advanced Deuces Wild strategies are often about learning how to play situations with small margins, and that’s exactly what you’re getting here.

Example Hand 6: 2sQhJh7h4c

A very critical lesson to learn in this game is that, when you hold a wild card, draws to regular straights or flushes aren’t really something you’ll be doing. This hand illustrates how this works in a very serious way.

Players who know their basic strategies really well will assume that three to a royal is better than four to a flush here, and that is exactly right, but there’s more to it than that.

Here are the three main ways to play this hand that are viable on any level:

    • Three to a Royal (QJ2) – 1.219x
    • Deuce – 1.035x

Flush Draw (QJ72) – 0.702x

Just to show you how worthless a regular flush draw is in this situation, consider the fact that keeping the 742 combination, a combination that makes no sense on any level whatsoever, actually scores better with a 0.709x average win.

We have one final example hand left to show you one other option you have in certain hands that’s better than simply drawing to a deuce.

Example Hand 7: 2sKc9c7d6d

This is the type of hand that beginner and intermediate players mess up on a regular basis, and it’s a good example of how understanding advanced Deuces Wild strategy can boost your payout rate on a consistent basis.

  • Beginners will tend to keep the K-2 combination for a pair of kings because they don’t understand that keeping the 2 by itself is actually better.
  • Intermediate players will want to keep 9-2-7-6 for an open-ended straight draw a lot of the time, again without understanding how low-value they are in this game.
  • Advanced players will see that there is a third option that is really easy to miss, and that is the three-card straight flush draw.

With that said, here are some values to be aware of for this type of situation where you don’t really seem to have much to go on except for your one wild card:

  • Three-card Straight-flush Draw (762) – 1.088x
  • Deuce – 1.033x
  • Pair of Kings – 0.869x
  • Open-ended Straight Draw (92760 – 0.830x

As you can see, a three-card straight-flush draw is worse than three to a royal like we saw earlier, which is obvious enough, but they’re both better than a single deuce. With that said, single pairs and flush or straight draws are worse than keeping the deuce by itself.


The advanced layers of strategy for Deuces Wild video poker are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, even though there is a fair amount of complication, studying the seven hands we have presented here will provide you with all of the information that you need to play nearly perfectly.

There are some fringe cases that come up once every few thousand hands that will defy these rules barely, but even then, the amount of value you lose is on the scale of thousandths of the size of your wager, so they’re not worth worrying about.