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Best of John Grochowski

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A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

17 April 2007

Q. I just read an answer you gave a while back to a question about video poker and Class II gaming. I just came home from a Native American casino with Class II games and was playing Deuces Wild. There was a woman next to me who was winning left and right. The best I can tell, her play was illogical as she seemed to be playing for straights and flushes. However the "genie" appeared frequently and fixed her hand. She won $600 in no time and seemed to be unaffected by it.

I don't think it was beginners luck --- I think she was playing a strategy. I don't quite understand the video poker Class II bingo machines and the role of the genie. Can you help me understand this and develop a playing strategy --- or doesn't it matter?

A. On Class II machines, identifiable by the bingo logo on the glass or screen, strategy does not matter. The machine has to pay you the amount determined by the bingo pattern drawn. If you make what would be a costly mistake on a regular Class III video poker machine, the Class II machine has to pay you anyway. That's the reason for the genie.

The woman who was doing all the winning was having a very lucky session. Her strategy made no difference.

Class II machines are used primarily at Native American casinos that do not have compacts with the state, or those that have a limit on the number of Class III games written into their compacts. They then augment that Class III limit with Class II games to meet demand.

Class II games generating bingo patterns rather than random numbers corresponding to reel symbols or playing cards. In a Class II video poker game, you're getting a poker interface, and the appearance of a game with strategy, but your strategy doesn't really make a difference in the same way it does on a Class III game. The genie is there to fix up any mistakes that would cost you a win.

Q. I am playing a multi-game video poker machine. Say I am playing Bonus Poker Deluxe but not doing very well. So I switch to Double Double Bonus Poker. Does the software use the same "deck" for both games? In other words, does it matter if you switch games to perhaps change your luck with a different deck?

Also, I understand the random number generator concept but there appears some patterns on the draw. For example, playing White Hot Aces or any other game with a big payoff for four Aces, I will break up twp pair to hold two Aces and go for the big jackpot on four Aces. More often than not I will end up with two pair again. Is this just my imagination?

A. First question first. The different games use different electronic decks in the sense that each game on a multi-game machine has its own random number generator. Essentially, Bonus Poker is dealing from a different deck than Bonus Poker Deluxe.

As for patterns in the draws, there aren't any. There are enough possible pairs to draw that you'll wind up with two pair fairly frequently just because of the odds of the game. Starting with a pair of Aces and discarding the other three cards, there are 16,125 possible draws. The most frequent result will be that you'll be left with just the pair --- that makes up 11,520 of the possible results. But the next most frequent result, with 2,629 possible hands, is that you'll wind up with two pair again. The remainder of the possibilities are 1,842 three of a kind hands, 169 full houses and 45 hands that include four of a kind.

Note that 16.3 percent of the time, you'll be right back to two pairs, and you'll hit your four Aces only 0.28 percent of your draws that start with holding two Aces.

The return to two pairs is frequent enough that it can happen several times in a row, leaving the impression that it "always" happens. That's an effect of selective memory --- and we all have selective memory to some degree. But if you kept track for a very long time, you'd find that your most frequent result was winding up with just the one pair, followed by two pairs and then three of a kind.

Q. I've been playing blackjack for a couple of years, and I've studied basic strategy. An acquaintance who's a serious player told a story over dinner one night that revolved around index numbers. I was embarrassed to ask him, but what's an index number?

A. Index numbers are a tool for card counters that tells them when to deviate from basic strategy. For example, a Hi-Lo counter will split 10s against a dealer's 6 if four more low cards than high cards per deck have been dealt --- the index number for that particular hand is plus-4. Non-card counters need not worry about index numbers.

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.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
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. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

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. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski