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.

October 2009

(The Questions and Answers originally appeared in November 2000 Strictly Slots)

Q1:      I feel like the video poker machines are designed to mock me. On my last trip, whenever I wanted a 3, for example, I would get a 2 or a 4. Whenever I wanted a 7, I would get a 6 or an 8. Not quite every time, but almost. Why do they design these machines to aggravate me?

A1:      First of all, be careful of making lasting generalizations about the events of one trip. Over 10,000 hands or so, anything can happen. You probably won’t get any royal, but sometimes you will get two or three. You can end up with too many flushes, or not enough. Patterns you observe over hundreds of thousands of hands are much more valid than the ones you observe in a brief period of time.

            You didn’t tell me what kind of hand rattled your cage, but let’s assume it was 7h 7s 7d 5c 3h. Obviously you hold the sevens and draw two cards. But notice that there is only one card that will make you happy --- namely the 7c. But there are eight cards (four 6s and four 8s) that will be “near misses”. So with strictly random events, you are 8 times as likely to get the near miss as you are to get the perfect card. You may continue to be aggravated about this if you like, but at least now you know the reason why.

Q2:      I almost never get straight flushes, so I have stopped trying for them. Would you please publish a strategy without straight flush draws so people like me can have a fighting chance?

A2:      I think you have it backwards. The reason why you never get straight flushes is that you never try for them. If you held the appropriate 3-card straight flushes, you would connect on straight flushes about the normal amount of times. Some people believe they are unluckier than usual, but that is just not true. Over the long haul, luck pretty well balances out and you get the results you deserve by the choices you make.

            3-card straight flushes are extremely important in video poker, and simultaneously are the type of hand combination most often confused by beginning and intermediate players. Neglecting them entirely from your strategy would be a huge mistake. Because if you failed to hold the appropriate number of 3-card straight flushes, not only would you miss out on the occasional straight flush, you would also miss out on many ordinary straights and flushes. 

Q3:      The riverboat closest to where I live never has any of the video poker schedules you talk about. 9/6 Jacks or Better is out of the question here. The games are either 8/5 Jacks or even 7/5 Jacks. Why don’t you publish strategies for these games so those of us forced to play at these places can do well too.

A3:      Forced to play? They shoot you if you don’t play? I doubt it. The casino will keep these second-rate and third-rate games as long as people play them. If you, and enough of the other customers of the casino, inform the slot director there that you will not play there until they give you a fighting chance to win, then eventually the games will improve there. But as long as you take the attitude that “I must play SOMETHING at this casino”, then the bad machines will remain. Refusing to play bad games is the best way to get them changed.

            Liam W. Daily and I sell a strategy card designed for 8/5 Jacks or Better (and 8/5 Bonus Poker), which is also very usable for 7/5 Jacks or Better, or even 6/5 Jacks or Better. But be careful. Playing a bad game perfectly still means you are not going to like your long-term results.

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