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.

December 2009

Q1:      (This originally appeared in January 2001 Strictly Slots) I have heard you say that you receive a royal once every 40,000 hands. It has been at least that long since I have had one. Since I am now overdue, I figure it is a good time to play for dollars instead of for quarters. After all, if I am going to collect two royals rather quickly, it makes sense to do so on the larger machines.

A1:      If you really believe that, you should play the $100 machine. I don't recommend this, however. It is faulty logic.

            The 1-in-40,000 figure comes from Jacks or Better. Other games have different values. (NSU Deuces Wild, for example, hits a royal 1 time in 43,456, on average). But these are average figures, based over a long period of time.

            These figures always pertain to the future, not the past. You will receive about ten royals over the next 400,000 hands, if you play appropriately. Sometimes only 6 royals (a very expensive 400,000 hands when this happens) and sometimes 14 royals (a very profitable 400,000 hands.) And you won't know for sure until after the 400,000 hands are over.

            And whether or not your last 400,000 hands was "under-royaled" or "over-royaled" has NOTHING TO DO with when your next royal is coming. The machine does not know who is playing it. In the year 2000, for example, I hit more royals than I should have statistically. (I though the year was a lot of fun, thank you very much). Shirley, on the other hand, hit fewer royals than she should have statistically. (She thought the year stank!) But assuming we both play the same number of hands using the same strategy, it is absolutely 50-50 about who is going to hit the next one.

Q2:      (This originally appeared in February 2001 Strictly Slots)If your theories work so well, how come you are not a billionaire?

A2:      It takes more than just skill and bankroll to win big. Remember, there are two parties in any gamble. I don't know if you can imagine a casino that was willing to have loose enough games so that expert players could win $200,000 per year, and have those machines remain there for many years.  You may be able to imagine it, but I cannot. Casinos are in business to make money. If I prove to them that I could win that much regularly, they would take countermeasures. They might tighten the pay schedule, change the slot club, or revoke some or all of my rights to play there. All of these moves are legal for them to do.

            I know of very few players who make as much as $100,000 year in and year out, although I do know of several players who have earned that much or more in at least one year. Most of them had much poorer results either the year before or the year after.

Q3:      (This originally appeared in February 2001 Strictly Slots)How many players make money gambling at video poker?

A3:      It depends on how you define "make money". As I indicated in the previous question, very few players make substantial amounts. But if you define "make money" as "at least break even", then I would judge between 1/4 and 1/3 of all players play that well. And probably at least 3/4 of people have the potential to get this good should they dedicate themselves to that goal. But don't kid yourself. It requires a lot of study and a lot of practice.

            Many players have lesser goals. They want to play well enough so that they can have inexpensive vacations. If the casinos give them $1,000 worth of rooms, food, beverages and shows while the players lose $500 on average, these players figure they are money ahead.

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