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Best of John Grochowski
A Shuffle Through the Gaming Mailbag10 October 2006
Q. I recently visited a casino that had an 80-for-1 payoff (400 for max coins) instead of the common 50-to-1 payoff for a straight flush on a 9-7-5 Double Bonus machine. All the other payouts were the usual ones I am used to. Do you sell a strategy card for this type of payout table (or know where I can get one)? The machine also had a "magic lantern" appear once in a while after the completion of the hand, and a "fairy" came out of it and changed some of the cards so that my hand improved. Have you ever seen this before and is there anything I should know or be aware of on the machine with this feature?
A. Raising the payback on straight flushes increases the long-term payback percentage by about three-tenths of a percent, from 99.1 to 99.4, with expert play. Disregarding the magic lantern, strategy for 9-7-5 Double Bonus Poker, meaning full houses pay 9-for-1, flushes 7-for-1 and straights 5-for-1, is similar to 10-7-5 Double Bonus. There are a number of strategy cards for 10-7-5 Double Bonus on the market, but if you want one specifically tailored to 9-7-5 with the enhanced straight flush payoff, you can generate a strategy sheet on the computer using either the Frugal Video Poker or Video Poker Strategy Master software.
But we can't really ignore the magic lantern, can we? And that presents a problem of its own. I've not seen the game you mention, but magic lanterns, fairies, genies and other mystical methods of improving players hands are tools that are mostly used in Class II gaming. The full-scale gaming in Nevada and throughout most of the Midwest is Class III, and on Class III slots and video poker games, it's possible to draw any hand or land any combination on the reels at any time.
That's not the case in Class II gaming, which is bingo-like, fixed-pool gaming. Bingo is the primary Class II games, and the electronic games that look like slots or video poker games often carry a bingo logo --- what you see on a video poker screen is essentially a playing-card representation of five bingo numbers.
Pull tabs and lotto are also Class II games as defined by federal law, and Casino Player and Slot Manager magazines have used a comparison of Class II slots to scratch-off lottery cards that I like for its clarity and simplicity. Imagine the machine holds a stack of lottery cards. When you push the button, you get a representation of that card on the screen. When you're done, that particular card is no longer available.
In the case of Class II games with video poker interfaces, the game has to make sure you get the result called for on your "lottery card." If you make a playing decision that costs you the payoff you should have gotten, the lantern or fairy or genie appears to improve your hand and correct your result.
Many Native American casinos have bingo, and therefore have Class II gaming in their bingo halls. However, most in the Midwest have Class III games on their slot floors, and wouldn't have the type of game described here. If you can get back to me and tell me where you found this game, I'll try to double-check and see if it was in a casino with Class II slot-like games.
Q. The casino where my wife and I play just added a game called 3-5-7 Poker. What can you tell me about it? Is there any strategy?
A. Distributed by Gaming Entertainment Inc., 3-5-7 Poker is a stud-poker-based game in which players may make up to three wagers --- one on a three-card hand, one on a five-card hand, and one on the final seven-card stud hand. You must bet on the three- and five-card hands, but the seven-card bet is optional.
Payoffs are according to a pay table, with no dealer hand to beat. Payoffs start with any pair on the three-card hand, a pair of 6s or better after five cards, and two pair after seven. You do have an option to cut your losses and surrender half the seven-card bet after seeing the first three cards.
The player has only a few decisions to make: Do you make the 7-card bet? On which hand should you bet the most and least money? And when should you surrender the 7-card bet.
Michael Shackelford, at www.wizardofodds.com, says the house edge is lowest on the seven-card hand, and highest on the five-card hand. So if you're going to play 3-5-7 Poker, always make the optional seven-card bet. If the casino where you play permits different-sized wagers on the three bets, make the seven-card bet your biggest, and the five-card bet your smallest.
As for surrender, don't do it. No first three cards are bad enough to make the house edge greater than the 50 percent you lose by surrendering the bet at 3-5-7 Poker.
Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.
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 email@example.com.
Best of John Grochowski