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Dealer's Hole Card and Dangers of Video Poker

28 September 2014

By John Grochowski
QUESTION: I was talking with a dealer friend, and he pointed out there are times the dealer exposes cards with no need. If every player busts, or if there is a mix of player blackjacks and busts, the dealer’s down card doesn’t make any difference in the outcome. So why turn it up? Why does a casino that’s worried about card counters give that extra information?

ANSWER: There’s another situation in which the dealer turns up his down card after bets are decided. That’s when he pays off player blackjacks, either with no other players at the table or when all others have busted. There are no remaining wagers to be settled by playing out the hand.

Still, there are a couple of reasons beyond tradition and inertia for the dealer to turn up his down card after all players bust. One is simply player confidence in the games. Showing all cards actually dealt is part of encouraging player belief in an open, honest game, similar to spreading all cards from a fresh deck before a shuffle to let players know all the cards are there.

A second reason has to do with gaming regulations. It’s common for casinos to submit to their state gaming boards a set of internal controls, to be approved by the board before the games go into operation. The internal controls describe procedures for each game. If they say the dealer will turn up his face down card, then that is the procedure the casino must follow until the internal controls are changed with approval of the gaming board.

Some gaming boards might go along with such a change; others would not.

QUESTION: I got lucky. I touched the screen to start Double Double Bonus Poker, and within a few hands I drew the four Aces with the kicker. Instead of 2,000 quarters, I got 4,000. Turns out, I’d hit Triple Double Bonus instead. I experienced the ups – can you tell me about the downs?

ANSWER: Congratulations on the big win! A four Aces plus kicker jackpot that’s as big as a royal flush is the big upside of Triple Double Bonus Poker. With expert strategy on the full-pay, 9-7 version of the game, you’ll get the Aces-plus-kicker jackpot an average of once per 14,214 hands, more than three times as often as the royals that pop up once per 45,358 hands.

Not only that. Four 2s, 3s or 4s with a low card or Ace kicker bring a jackpot of 2,000 coins with a five coin bet, instead of the 800 you’d get on Double Double Bonus. The low quads plus kicker come up once per 5,795 hands, so you have a legitimate shot at a big payoff in any session.

Problem is, you also have a heightened chance of going broke fast in any session. Three of a kind payoffs are reduced from the normal 3-for-1 to 2-for-1, and that adds a lot of volatility to the game. Instead of the standard deviation of 6.48 and variance of 30.78 you find in 9-6 Double Double Bonus, the full-pay 9-7 version of Triple Double Bonus has a standard deviation of 9.91 and a variance of 98.28.

For those who have both the temperament and bankroll to outlast long losing streaks, Triple Double Bonus is an enticing option. With expert play, the 9-7 game returns 99.58 percent, dropping to 98.15 percent with a 9-6 pay table. But it is an extreme roller-coaster, with steep plunges and sharp rises on your credit meter.

You do need to make some strategy adjustments to get the most out of TDB. For instance, dealt A-A-A-2-Jack, we hold the Aces with the kicker in TDB, but not in DDB. And dealt 2-2-2-4-Jack, we even hold the kicker with the 2s in TDB, something that shocked me the first time I ran strategy for this game, but with makes sense with the reduced payoff on three of a kind. Triple Double Bonus is very much a jackpot hunter’s game, and we do almost everything we can to maximize chances at the big hits.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at


BJ Bob

25 September 2014
I’ve mentioned my old blackjack-playing pal Bob a few times in this column. Bob’s a solid player who spends most of his casino time at the 21 tables. However, he does take breaks for low-minimum Three Card Poker, roulette and video poker. “Penny slots, too,” Bob piped in when I saw him in early August. ... (read more)

A Wild Streak Indeed!

21 September 2014
QUESTION: Something very unusual happened at the casino recently. Playing my usual Double Double Bonus machines, I was dealt three 4s. Of course, I didn’t get the other 4. On the very next round, I was dealt three 4s again. And again I didn’t get the other 4. Imagine my shock when I’m dealt another three 4s – and of course I didn’t get the other 4. ... (read more)

Streaks Happen

18 September 2014
Streaks happen. You don’t know when they’re coming, and you don’t know when they’re going to end. They can be good, bad or indifferent for your bankroll. But streaks are a part of normal probablility. From time to time, I hear from players who have been on unusual streaks. Here are a few of their stories. ... (read more)

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John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago, with podcasts at Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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