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Best of John Grochowski

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A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

23 June 2011

Q. I have heard a couple things concerning video poker. First is that royal flushes hit roughly every 48,000 spins. I also have heard that when a machine is not being played, that it still continues to "spin" maybe hundreds of times per minute. Does that mean that a video poker machine may hit another royal flush maybe a few days after it hits?

A. The frequency of royal flushes depends on your strategy. In 9/6 Jacks or Better, where the 9/6 stands for 9-for-1 payoffs on full houses and 6-for-1 on flushes, expert strategy will bring a royal an average of once per 40,390 hands, while in 10/7 Double Bonus Poker, the average is once per 48,048 hands.

Strategy makes the difference. Dealt ace-king-4 of hearts, 7 of spades and 3 of diamonds in 9/6 Jacks or Better, you'll hold just the ace-king. In 10-7 Double Bonus, the higher return on flushes means the better play is to hold all three hearts, ace-king-4. That leaves you with a long-shot draw for a royal in Jacks or Better, but not in Double Bonus Poker. Plays like that are why we get fewer royals in 10/7 Double Bonus than in 9/6 Jacks or Better.

As for your other question, the random number generator does run continuously, even when the game is not being played. Royal flushes are possible not only a few days apart, but even on consecutive hands.

Back-to-back royals are an extreme long shot, but possible. Personally, I have drawn royals twice within an hour on the same machine. Not back-to-back, but just a few hundred hands apart.

Q. I would like to ask you to answer a question we have discussed many, many times when we hit a big pay on the penny slot machines. I usually play the first or second multiplier, betting all lines with one or two coins per line.

When it hits a big pay on the first multiplier, would it have hit at the same time if I was playing on the second or third multiplier? In other words, does each multiplier have its own random number generator or is each multiplier affected differently? It seems we always say I should have been playing maximum, but we never know it the same screen would have come up.

A. The same random number generator determines your outcomes no matter how many coins you wager per line. On the average, the reel combinations will bring the same results no matter how many coins you bet. Now, that doesn't mean the results of each spin will be exactly the same. The RNG runs very fast, and any tiny difference in timing can mean a different result. If it takes you a tenth of a second longer to reach for the 2x button as opposed to the 1x button, it'll mean a different result on the next spin. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse, but different.

Over the long haul, the combinations you see on the reels will come up in the same proportions no matter what multiplier you choose.

Q. I have played video poker for years, but there is one situation that I have struggled with for years. If I am dealt 4, 5, 7, 8, nonsuited and a jack or better, do I go for the inside straight or keep the face card and draw four cards?

A. Just keep the jack in that situation. The common game in which it's the closest call is Double Bonus Poker, in which straights pay 5-for-1 instead of the usual 4-for-1. That extra payoff makes us chase more inside straights than in most games. There, holding the jack brings an average return of about 2.2 credits per five credits wagered, while holding the 4-5-7-8 brings an average of 2.1. That's a close call, but it's still on the side of keeping the jack. In other common games like Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker or Double Double Bonus Poker, it's not a close call.

There is one exception. There's a rare game called All-American Poker that I think I've seen only in Nevada. It's a unique game where full houses, flushes and straights all pay 8-for-1. Should you ever see that game, the average return for holding 4-5-7-8 jumps all the way to 3.4, while holding the Jack is only 2.3. So in that one game, we hold the all-low-card inside straight instead of a single high card.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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