Classic Dancer's Answers

Your monthly serving of tips from the video poker expert, Bob Dancer

Bob Dancer

Each month, brings you exclusive tips and inside scoop from Bob Dancer, one of the best known video poker authors and writers.

April 2009

Q1:      (Originally this appeared in May 2000 Strictly Slots) I notice that in Jacks or Better, from a hand such as Qd Js Ts 7h 3s you recommend holding the QJ, whereas I always hold the 'JT'. I can sometimes get a $4,000 royal flush. I've done this two or three times in my life. Even if theoretically the QJ is the better play, that royal will more than make up for it. Isn't that right? 

A2:      Absolutely not. Since you talk about a $4,000 royal flush, obviously you are playing for dollars. When you draw three cards to 'JT', you are only going to connect on the royal one time in 16,215. Receiving an extra $4,000 in 16,215 tries means the chance for the royal is worth almost 25¢ (i.e. $4,000 / 16,215 = 24.7¢). Without considering the chance for the royal, then QJ is worth 36¢ more than JT, because it is a lot easier to end up with a high pair starting from QJ than it is starting from JT. If you include the royal, QJ is still worth 11¢ more than JT. Giving up 11¢ every time this kind of position occurs gets expensive.

            Saying "if I can get a royal then . . ." is a deceptive form of logic. It doesn't take into consideration how difficult a 1 in 16,215 draw is. The "if" assumes away the major part of the problem! And just because you were "rewarded" for a possibly inferior play in the past is no justification to make it again.

Q2:      (Originally this appeared in May 2000 Strictly Slots) Invitational slot tournaments sound like fun. How do you get invited to one?

A2:      Every casino has its own rules. In general, casinos like to invite "proven players" who can be depended upon to play a considerable amount during the tournament. How much is a "considerable amount" varies greatly from casino to casino.

            But asking a slot host whether or not you can be invited is a good way to get on the list. Usually they have discretion as to whom to invite, and they like to say "yes", so asking helps. Even if the answer is "no", they'll usually give you some guidelines as to what it takes to get invited. They might say, for example, that it takes three separate trips of averaging four hours a day for dollars. And then you can decide if this is a reasonable amount for you to play or if it is way out of your budget.

Q3.      (Originally this appeared in June 2000 Strictly Slots) When we win a jackpot, my wife wants to quit playing. If we go through a dry spell, my wife wants to quit playing. This is so inconsistent that it makes no sense to me.

A3.      It makes perfect sense. For whatever reason, your wife isn't comfortable with the swings in gambling. Frequently this is because gambling can be an expensive hobby that one spouse enjoys a lot more than the other. Perhaps lowering the stakes you play for may help. 

Q4.      (Originally this appeared in June 2000 Strictly Slots) I found a few coins abandoned in a hopper tray. Are they legally mine or should I turn them in?

A4.      This is as much a practical question and a moral question as it is a legal one. Reaching in and taking the coins while you are walking by is risky. Whoever the coins belong to may see you and decide to confront you. A casino employee may see you and decide to enforce the little-enforced casino rule against this. A casino executive may see you and decide you are a "scavenger" and not worthy of receiving the complimentaries your play would otherwise entitle you to.

            There is a case to be made that this money doesn't belong to you and you are stealing. Another case can be made for "Finders Keepers Losers Weepers". You will probably find one of these explanations makes more sense to you than the other. And whichever one that is, go with it. You'll sleep better.

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