Jacks or Better is the predecessor of most video poker variations and the game of Aces and Faces is hardly an exception to this rule. The game largely follows the same rules as it, too, is based on five-card draw and the objective of the players is to obtain at least a pair of Jacks in order to collect a payout. What further adds to the thrill of playing Aces and Faces are the extra payouts granted to players upon forming Four of a Kind hands that contain four Aces or other face cards like Jacks, Queens, or Kings.
The alterations in the payouts for these high-ranking Four of a Kind hands are not that substantial but still, they impact both the game’s house edge and the optimal strategy of play. In the following article, we explain the basic rules of Aces and Faces, the ranking of hands and their corresponding payouts as well as the basic strategy which will increase beginners’ chances of securing a payout.
The Basics of Aces and Faces
Aces and Faces is present in the gaming libraries of all respected online casinos and is usually available in both single-hand and multi-hand formats. Being a derivative of the ever-popular Jacks or Better, Aces and Faces is played with a full deck, containing all 52 cards. There are no wild cards or jokers in play.
The game starts with players adjusting the size of the stake they wish to make by using the buttons at the bottom of the base-game screen. Similarly to the majority of video poker variations, the number of credits one can wager per hand ranges between one and five, with the option to select from different coin denominations. One can also conveniently stake the maximum number of credits by hitting the Bet Max button.
Once players have adjusted and placed their bets, five cards will be dealt to them at random. The aim is to make the optimal decision as to which cards to hold and which ones to throw away so that you can form the strongest possible hand and net a higher payout. The discards will then be replaced with new cards, which are randomly dealt from the top of the remaining deck. Please note that the rules allow for players to keep or discard all five cards their opening hand consists of.
If the draw has resulted in a qualifying hand, the players will be automatically awarded a payout which depends on the hand’s strength. The amount won and the winning hand will also be highlighted in the paytable. The good news is in video poker, there is an optimal way to play any hand you are dealt on the basis of what combination offers you the highest expected value. As a general rule, players are also advised to bet the maximum number of credits per hand.
The hand that offers the highest possible payout is naturally the Royal Flush which pays 500 credits on one-coin bets, but the profits skyrocket to 4,000 credits for maximum, five-coin bets. Note that hitting a Royal Flush is a rare occurrence as it happens only once per every 40,000 hands or so. Despite that, playing five credits per round is recommended because the Royal Flush accounts for a substantial part of players’ long-term payback percentage.
Paytable and Hand Rankings in Aces and Faces
There is a slight difference in the ranking of the hands in Aces and Faces due to the additional payouts Four of a Kind combinations offer. Once the game loads, it will immediately strike you that the payout for Royal Flushes on one-credit bets is increased from the standard 250 credits to 500 credits which further adds value to Aces and Faces games. The maximum reward Royal Flushes can secure is the same as that in standard Jacks or Better or 4,000 credits. The unique thing about this video poker variation is that Four of a Kind with Aces actually beats the Straight Flush.
The second best hand in Aces and Faces consists of Four Aces and offers an additional payout of 80 credits per credit wagered. This is followed by the Straight Flush which typically pays at a rate of 50 to 1. There is an extra payout of 40 to 1 for Four of a Kind hands with face cards like Jacks, Queens, and Kings. Four of a Kind combinations consisting of cards with face value of 2 through 10 pay out 25 coins per credit wagered. In comparison, the paytable of standard Jacks or Better contains only one Four of a Kind payout of 20 to 1.
The Four of a Kind combinations are followed by the standard hand rankings of Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, and Two Pair. The weakest possible hand that can still secure a payout consists of a pair of Jacks or higher, which earns players an even-money prize. Pairs of 10 or less are almost worthless and do not offer any payouts.
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Unlike full-pay variants of Jacks and Better where the Full House and the Flush pay 9 to 1 and 6 to 1, respectively, the payouts on these two hands in Aces and Faces are reduced with one unit. That is to say a full-pay Aces and Faces game pays 8 to 1 for a Full House and 5 to 1 for a Flush. The lower payouts for more commonly dealt hand combinations aim at compensating for the extra credits players earn when hitting the Four of a Kind hands. At first glance, this one-unit reduction can be interpreted as a disadvantage but it is offset by the extra payouts one collects on Four of a Kind hands with Aces and face cards.
It is of crucial importance to always check the payouts for the Full House and the Flush when picking an Aces and Faces game to play for real money. Any paytables that offer anything less than 8/5 payouts for these two hand combinations are a no-go. This one-unit cutback in the pay-offs for more frequently occurring hands has a negative impact on the game’s theoretical return percentage and tips the scales in favour of the house, albeit slightly.
The 8/5 variations of Aces and Faces offer a rather satisfactory payback percentage which stands at 99.26% only. Reduce the payouts for the Full House and the Flush with a unit to 7/5 and the return percentage will drop to 98.10%. It is even possible to come across 6/5 Aces and Faces variations where the payback percentage further sinks to 97% while the house edge climbs to 3%.
|Aces and Faces Poker Paytable|
|Four Js, Qs, Ks||40||80||120||160||200|
|Four 2s – 10||25||50||75||100||125|
|Three of a Kind||3||6||9||12||15|
|Jacks or Better||1||2||3||4||5|
Beginner Strategy for Aces and Faces
Since Aces and Faces is a derivative of Jacks or Better, there are not many deviations in the basic strategies that are applicable to the two games. The discrepancies in the optimal play recommendations for the two video poker variants are quite minor. We have outlined several useful tips on playing certain Aces and Faces hands in the paragraphs to follow.
Players are rarely dealt strong pat hands and usually have to draw more cards in order to improve the strength of their final hand. In Aces and Faces, one should never discard anything that has already contributed to a qualifying winning hand. It makes sense not to break a made winning hand save for the occasions you hold four out of five cards that constitute a Royal Flush. In this case, players need to throw away the one card that stands between them and the Royal Flush. Another deviation from this general rule is when you have received four cards to a Straight Flush on the deal, in which case you should also attempt to complete the hand by discarding one card.
If you are dealt a high pair (one that contains Jacks through Aces), you should always keep the pair and replace the other three cards. The pair already qualifies for a payout, albeit even money, so at least the draw will not result in a loss for the player. There is roughly 16% chance of improving to a Two Pair and around 11% chance of forming a Three of a Kind after the draw.
Two Pair is also a great pat combination to hold on to since there is a good chance players will draw to a Full House. Also, one is recommended to hold three cards to Royal Flushes and four cards to Flushes where the odds of completing the Flush are almost 1 in 6 or 17%. Another basic strategy recommendation is to hold off-suit King/Queen/Jack/10 as well as Ace/King/Queen/Jack since you can potentially improve to a Straight on the draw.
Another thing worth keeping are four cards to an open-ended Straight. One such example would be a starting hand consisting of Jack/10/9/8 in which case there are two card values that can potentially improve the hand, namely Queens and 7s. With open-ended Straight draws, the probability of completing the Straight is greater because there are more cards that can help the player. In comparison, if one is dealt an inside Straight draw like Queen/Jack/9/8, only the tens can fill the hand.
Whenever the starting hand consists of two high cards of the same suit, players should hold them and try to form the Royal Flush. The Aces and Faces strategy dictates to hold off-suit King/Queen/Jack, Queen/Jack, Queen/King, and King/Jack. Then again, Jack/10 and Queen/10 of the same suit are also worth holding on to because in the worst-case scenario, you can at least manage to get a high pair on the draw and receive an even-money payout. Under the basic strategy rules, one should generally hold two unsuited face cards. In fact, the same is valid even if you are dealt a only single face card – keep it.
As a rule of thumb, players should keep high pairs and replace low pairs since the new cards they will receive on the draw can provide them with higher chances of forming Three of a Kind or higher ranking hands. Finally, when the opening hand you get consists of nothing worth holding, the best thing to do is to discard everything and receive five entirely new cards.