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Best of John Grochowski

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Answering video poker questions

19 March 2015

Carl is a video poker player who has written to me off and on for many years. I’ll sometimes go a year or two without hearing from him, but then a question will pop into my e-mail inbox.

In the latest, he wanted some information about progressive games, where a percentage of each wager is added to the usual 4,000-coin jackpot on royal flushes.

“I don’t play close to home as much as I once did,” he wrote. “It’s getting harder and harder to find a good game. I used to be able to play 10-7 Double Bonus, 8-5 Bonus Poker, 9-6 Jacks or Better. Now I see a little 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, but the other games have lower pay tables now. So I save my play for Las Vegas, especially downtown and at the local joints.

“I do see quite a few progressives, but I never know how big the jackpot has to be before I should jump in. Can you give me some break-even points?”

Video poker veterans know the numbers Carl uses refer to paybacks on full houses and flushes. Those are the most common paybacks altered to yield different payback percentages, so “9-6” Jacks or Better, with full houses paying 9-for-1 and flushes 6-for-1, returns 99.5 percent with expert play, while “8-5” Jacks or Better pays 97.3 percent.

Every video poker pay table does have a break-even point. If the jackpot gets large enough, the edge tilts away from the house and the payback percentage reaches, and even exceeds, 100 percent.

That doesn’t make it much more likely you’re going to win in any one session. The player gain comes from rare hands – we’ve all had long dry spells without a royal.

But for those who are jackpot shopping, here several games that often are used for progressives, and their break-even points. To get the most out of any of these game requires strategy adaptations, something I’ll address at another time. With no strategy adaptations, a general guideline is that each 1,000 coins added to the pot raises the payback percentage by about half a percent.

Listed here are the lowest whole-coin jackpot at which the average return exceeds 100 percent. A 10,519-coin jackpot gives 7-5 Jacks or Better an average return of 100.0003 percent. At 10,518 coins, it’s 99.9997 percent. So I list the break-even at 10,519.

Jacks or Better: With no progressive and the royal at the base value of 4,000 coins, 8-5 Jacks or Better pays 97.3 percent with expert play. It reaches 100 percent with the royal at 8,666 coins. If the full house return drops another unit, 7-5 Jacks or Better is a 96.2 percent game at rollover, and the jackpot must hit 10,519 coins for break-even level.

Bonus Poker: For 7-5 BP, a 98.0-percent game at rollover, break-even is 7,254 coins. Drop to 6-5 BP, 96.9 percent at rollover, and break-even is 9,386 coins.

Double Bonus Poker: One common version is a 9-6-5 pay table, with straights paying 5-for-1 along with the 9-6 on full houses and flushes. That’s a 97.8-percent game at rollover, with a break-even point at 7,844 coins. Reduce the straight to 4-for-1, and 9-6-4 DB is 96.4 percent at rollover, break-even at 10,094 coins.

Double Double Bonus Poker: The most commonly available full-pay game through most of the U.S., 9-6 DDB pays 99.0 percent with expert play at rollover, with a break-even of 5,846 coins. Drop to 8-5 DDB, and you have a 96.8-percent game at rollover, with a break-even of 9,515 coins.


Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski