Classic Dancer's Answers
Your monthly serving of tips from the video poker expert, Bob Dancer
Each month, VideoPoker.com brings you exclusive tips and inside scoop from Bob Dancer, one of the best known video poker authors and writers.
Q1. (From March 2000 Strictly Slots) Do you ALWAYS make the right play in video poker? Don't you EVER play a hunch?
A1. I never knowingly make a less-than-perfect play. However, since I fail every time I try to walk on water, I do make inadvertent errors from time to time. The most common type of error I make occurs when I switch games. For example, if I've been playing Jacks or Better a lot recently and have just moved to a Double Bonus machine, I might automatically hold AK from Ah Ks 9h 7c 6d rather than just the A. My mother in law refers to this as a "senior moment." The kid across the street who is impressed with his own vocabulary would call it a "cerebral malfunction". I call it a "dumb mistake."
I passed my answer by Liam W. Daily and he made an interesting observation. Playing perfectly isn't necessarily the only goal. In the above hand, it makes sense for people on a very limited bankroll to hold AK rather than A. It greatly increases your chance for a small pay (specifically a high pair or a straight). The main thing you give up is the 1 in 4053 chance of getting four aces is now reduced by 75% or so.
I agree with part of his answer. If you intentionally set out a list of bankroll-conserving plays and included this one on it, I would not argue with that. But whatever your goal is, THERE IS ONE RIGHT PLAY FOR ANY GIVEN HAND. If you played differently from that, it is an error.
Q2. (From March 2000 Strictly Slots) In Deuces Wild, I know you say to only play on machines where five of a kind returns 15 and four of a kind returns 5. In the casino nearest my home, we do get the 15, bur four of a kind only returns 4. How bad is this game? (If it helps you any, it also returns 9 for the straight flush).
A2. There are two entirely different games that include 15-9-4 as the payouts for the hands you indicate. If the game returns 3 for a full house and 2 for a flush, you have a machine that returns a miserable 94.32%. If that's the best you find, run (don't walk) away from it as fast as you can. If the game returns 4 for a full house and 3 for a flush, however, you have a game that returns 98.91%. Not great, by Las Vegas standards, but not bad for most casinos elsewhere.
If you play that game, however, you'll probably want to practice on your computer beforehand rather than blindly follow a published strategy. Since full houses are worth 4 in this game rather than the standard 3, with a hand like 4h 4s 8d 8s Kd you now hold two pair rather than the single pair which would be correct for the standard game. And to understand the next sentence you need to remember that I like to use a W to indicate a wild card, in this case any 2. Since flushes also receive more in this game, with W 4h 5s 6h 7h you toss the 5 and go for the straight flush, unlike the standard game where you should keep all five cards. But don't overdo this. With a straight flush draw including two insides, such as W 3h 5s 6h 7h, accurate players forego the straight flush opportunity and keep the entire straight.
Q3. (From March 2000 Strictly Slots) Why do Las Vegas Strip casinos offer video poker games quite a bit worse than do the local Las Vegas casinos?
A3. Lumping ALL Strip casinos together or ALL local casinos together is dangerous, but in general your observation is correct, as long as you are referring to $1 and lower machines. The reason is that the Las Vegas Strip caters to tourists who are coming to Las Vegas for the glitz and the excitement. And these are found in abundance on the Strip. These tourists, generally speaking, do not know the difference between a video poker game that returns 99% and one that returns 95%. Since their customers cannot tell the difference, Strip casinos generally offer lesser video poker games. Remember, all this glitz is very expensive to produce and the money needs to come from somewhere.
Local casinos, however, cater primarily to Las Vegas residents. These people are more likely to play regularly. There are video poker classes here and video poker information in the local newspaper. Local players talk to other players and so, over time, these players are more likely to learn the difference between good and bad video poker pay schedules.