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Doubling Up Playing Video Poker

Dear Mark,
What are your thoughts on the double up feature of video poker? Is there any limit to the amount of times you can double up? Is it a good bet? Guy F.

Some video poker games, Guy, allow you a Double Up or double-or-nothing bonus option on a winning hand. Activated by your pressing the "Yes" button after a win, the game then deals one card face up for the dealer and four cards face-down for the player.
The player then chooses one of the face-down cards. If this card beats the dealer's, the player wins double the amount previously won, along with the option to try to double op again.

Like the odds bet in craps, the Double Up wager is one of the few casino bets offered that doesn't have a house edge. You have a fifty-fifty chance of winning any given bet (ties excluded) regardless of the amount wagered or the results of prior bets.
Most machines limit the number of double-ups to five times. How many times you should double up depends on the paytable and your risk tolerance level. Only you, Guy, know how much you are willing to bet on the turn of a card. If your goal is to achieve the highest expected return the machine can offer by lowering the overall house edge with the double-up feature, then you should double up the maximum number of times allowed.
Three caveats though, Guy: Many casinos do not allow you to use your slot club card and chase down cash points on double-up bets. Also, watch your double-up winnings so that you don't go over the $1,200 threshold and end up being handed a W2G. Finally, because playing video poker is typically a negative expectation game, when saying yes to the double or nothing feature, you increase the total money wagered, but at no cost to that expected loss, thus lowering the overall house edge. But if you are playing a video poker machine that has a 100% plus return paytable, I would recommend against the double-up bet, since it will lower your overall advantage.

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