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.

January 2010

Q1:      (This originally appeared in February 2001 Strictly Slots) When I play video poker, my goal is to get a royal flush. So why should I be concerned with how much a full house pays?

A1:      In Jacks or Better, for example, proper play will yield about 465 full houses for every royal flush you get. Let's say you earn 40 coins for the full house rather than the proper 45. Over the royal cycle of 40,390 hands (where you will earn 4,000 coins for the royal) you will lose an additional 2,325 coins by playing the wrong schedule. And usually when you receive less for full house you also receive less for the flush. Receiving 25 coins for the flush instead of 30 will cost you 2,225 coins over the same royal cycle. It is very expensive to ignore pay schedules.

Q2:      (This originally appeared in February 2001 Strictly Slots) I invested $20 in a quarter Double Bonus machine. Just as I was playing my last $1.25, I hit AAAA for $200. Since this represented a 900% profit on my initial stake, I figured it was time to quit. After all, very few investments earn this much. Pretty smart. Right?

A2:      Not particularly. Computing percentage profit after a few minutes of gambling is meaningless. Four aces come along every 5,000 hands or so, so just because you got one recently doesn't tell you anything about when you are going to get the next one.

            Also, the $20 you actually inserted into the machine is (hopefully) a small part of your gambling bankroll. Let's say you had a $4,000 bankroll. A $180 profit is nice, but is only a 4.5% increase --- not the 900% increase you were bragging about.

Q3:      (This originally appeared in February 2001 Strictly Slots) Why do straight flushes pay so little? They are almost as hard to get as a royal flush and they pay so much less.

A3:      Tradition, I guess. The system of straight flushes paying 250 and royal flushes paying 4,000 has been accepted by the players. Sometimes when players make these suggestions, what they really mean is "I want to receive just as much for what I have now, but just quadruple the value of the straight flush." Players like this are living in a fantasy world. Casinos are not about to do this. If they offer a game with more in the straight flush category, you can be sure it will offer less in the full house, flush or straight category.

            For example, 9/6 Jacks or Better normally has a straight flush worth 250 (for five coins bet). Changing the game to 8/5 Jacks or Better with a 5-coin straight flush worth 1125 or so would yield very close to the same return to the player. This game would have a different strategy. For example, from 4h 5h 6h 6s 7c, you would hold '456' in the 8/5/1125 game and 66 in the 9/6/250 game.

            Neither pay schedule is inherently better or worse than the other. If you could learn one strategy, you could learn the other. If one strategy was too hard for you, the other one would be too. But since players and casinos are generally happy with the current ratios, this falls into the category of "it ain't broke so don't fix it."

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