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Best of John Grochowski

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About Aces Bonus Poker

27 March 2016

QUESTION: My dad and took a trip to a casino that had both 8/5 Bonus Poker and 8/5 ACES Bonus Poker, so naturally I played the ACES version. I noticed that there were as many people playing BP as ACES. Why? Is there a reason to avoid the ACES?

ANSWER: No, there is nothing in ACES Bonus Poker that would make it a bet to avoid. What you were observing were people who either didn’t know there was a potential extra payoff on ACES, didn’t care, or just felt luckier on the Bonus Poker machines.

For those unfamiliar with ACES, each ace is marked with a letter – A, C, E or S. If you get four aces in order so they spell ACES with no gaps, they pay 800-for-1. With a five-coin wager, that’s a 4,000-coin bonanza, the same as you’d get for a royal flush, instead of the usual 400 coins you get for four aces on Bonus Poker.

Starting from the left, the aces have to be in positions 1-2-3-4 or 2-3-4-5. The non-ace card in your final hand can’t be in the middle. I once had a hand of A-C-9 of diamonds-E-S. The aces were in the proper order, but with that 9 in the middle breaking up the spelling, my return was 400 coins, not 4,000.

It doesn’t happen often enough to add much more to the payback percentage. With an 8/5 pay table, Bonus Poker returns 99.2% with expert play, while the ACES version returns 99.4%.

Still, that’s a little extra return with no extra risk. It would seem reasonable for the ACES machines to draw more players than the Bonus Poker machines.

That they don’t is part of a long-standing part of video poker. There are many players who don’t know the differences between pay tables.

At the beginning of the 1990s, when I was first becoming aware of such things, the Tropicana in Las Vegas had a long bank of Jacks or Better machines. The games alternated pay tables, so that a 9/6 machine was next to an 8/5 that was next to another 9/6 that was next to another 8/5, and so on.

Players seemed to be choosing games indiscriminately. There were as many players at 8/5 games as at 9/6 machines.

I finally broke down and asked a player next to me why he chose that machine when the one on the other side had a higher pay table. He said, “I was on that one this morning. Didn’t win a thing.”

A large segment of players will play where they feel lucky, and may not even notice that another pay table gives them a better shot to win.


QUESTION: At the craps table, another guy asked, “Do you charge commission on all buys, or just the winners?” I don’t know about commissions. What was he talking about?

ANSWER: When you buy one of the box numbers instead of placing it, you pay the house a commission of 5% of your bet. In exchange, winners are paid at true odds – a winner 4 is paid at 2-1 instead of the 9-5 it would bring on a place bet.

Most casinos charge the commission on all buy bets. That leaves the house with a 4.67% house edge when you buy 4 or 10, an improvement on the 6.67% edge on place bets on 4 or 10.

Some casinos charge the commission only on winning bets. That drops the house edge when you buy 4 or 10 to 1.67%. It’s worth asking.
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