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Best of John Grochowski

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A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

4 August 2011

Q. My wife and I are having a discussion about quarter Double Double or Triple Double Bonus Poker. I think Triple Double takes your money a lot faster than Double Double. She likes the big payouts on aces w/kicker and 2, 3, 4 w/kicker. Which one do you suggest playing?

A. Triple Double does take your money faster. Three of a kind pays only 2-for-1 on Triple Double, as opposed to 3-for-1 on Double Double and most other games. Any time you take payoffs away from frequently occurring hands low on the pay table and use it to boost the big jackpots, you're going to get a game where you lose faster, but have more opportunity to win big.

That's what's happening in Triple Double Bonus. You're getting less money on your three of a kinds in order to fund big bonus hands, especially the 4,000-coin bonanza for five coins wagered on four Aces accompanied by a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card. That makes four aces with the kicker as big a payoff as a royal flush. In Double Double Bonus, the jackpot on four aces with a kicker is "only" 2,000 coins, but you're getting the full 3-1 payoff on three of a kind to help stretch your playing time.

The difference makes Triple Double Bonus an extremely volatile game, with big wins and fast losses, but it's not a low-payer. In its full-pay, 9/7 version where full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes 7-for-1, it returns 99.6% with expert play. That beats full-pay, 9/6 version of Double Double Bonus, with a 99.0% payback, though there is a rare super-full-pay Double Double version with a 10/6 pay table that returns 100.1% to experts.

Just as in any other video poker game, the payback percentage in Triple Double Bonus drops as the pay table is reduced, with 9/6 Triple Double checking in at 98.1% and a 9/5 version at 97.0%. In Double Double Bonus Poker, the return with expert play falls to 98.8% at 9/5 and 97.7% at 8/5.

In the long run, it's a matter of which play experience you prefer. It's not that one game is better, or more favorable to the player. It's just a matter of whether you'd rather have a game that keeps you in your seat a little longer between jackpots, or one where you are chasing the big money while knowing the losses can come fast.

Q. I had an eye-opening experience playing "Video Poker for Winners" on my computer last night.

In the past I have always played at the Advanced Level-training style, believing that the answer to winning could be found in playing the most difficult level proficiently. I kept seeing card combinations at the casinos that I was not familiar with, so I decided to use the "mixed training style." Here is what happened:

64 out of 64 correct at Beginner Level
27 out of 27 Intermediate Level
0 out of 0 Advanced Level

One hundred percent proficiency, but zero return.

It absolutely amazed me that a person can be 100% proficient and still lose.

The answer to winning at video poker must must be found within, when a person ends the session. What suggestions do you have as to when a person should cash in?

A. Most video poker sessions will be losers, even for the pros. You can be playing full-pay 10/7/5 Double Bonus Poker, a game the pros like with a 100.17% return with expert play, but lose most of the time. That royal that comes every 48,000 hands or so eventually makes up the losses, but between royals you're playing a game that only rates a tad over 98%.

There's no hard and fast rule on when you should leave a game, and your choices on when to cash out can't change the cards or reduce the house edge. I discipline myself with a system of floating win goals and loss limits. Example: Last night I started with 100 credits on a Deuces Wild machine. At the start, I was willing to lose those 100 credits. But along the way I drew a straight flush and a couple of four of a kinds, and had 145 credits on my screen. At that point, I redrew my loss limit, and decided that if it got down to 50, I'd leave. After a minor cold streak, I was down to 90 credits, but drew a wild royal that got me up to 215. Now I redrew my loss limit so that I'd leave with no less than 150 credits. Had I gotten to 250, I'd have reset the limit to 200. But I didn't, and eventually I left with 150 credits.

None of that changes the math of the game. Sometimes, when I reach my limit, I'll just pause, have a bottle of water, take a little walk and go to another machine with the same game. A game with a good pay table is a game with good pay table, after all. The loss limits, creeping ever higher when you're winning, are just a way to discipline yourself to pause and think about it, making sure you're staying within a comfort zone with your bankroll, before you reach for more money.

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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski