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Dealt Royals27 December 2005
Royal flushes are always a cause for celebration. When they come on the initial deal in a multiple-hand game, it feels like ample reason to party for days.
You can imagine the excitement of a reader who phoned recently to say she has been dealt a royal flush in Ten Play Poker.
"It was a quarter machine, and I was betting the max," she told me. "I hit the max bet button, and up popped the five high clubs. I couldn't believe it. I screamed, everyone around me gave me high fives and congratulations, and someone from the casino took my picture next to the machine with the royal showing. It was incredible."
In Ten Play, the royal coming on the deal means the player gets the royal flush in all 10 hands on the screen. The max-coins bet cost $12.50, but the royal wasn't worth $1,000, as it would be if drawn in one hand. It was worth $10,000.
"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I've had a lot of royals, and in Ten Play I've even drawn two and three at once when I started with four high cards. But what amounts to 10 royals at once? Never."
Any video poker regular will get a royal every now and then. In five-card draw poker, they come along about once every 40,000 hands. The frequency varies a little as we change games and adapt our drawing strategies to the pay tables. In 9-6 Jacks or Better, for example, we'll draw a royal about once per 40,390 hands, while in 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, with a different drawing strategy, the royals will come about once per 40,799 hands.
But a royal on the initial deal is a much rarer treat. That happens with the same frequency as royals are dealt in five-card stud games such as Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride --- once per 649,740 hands.
But even though the odds of a royal being dealt are the same, we're much more likely to see a royal in the first five cards in video poker than we are in Caribbean Stud or Let It Ride. That's simply because we play video poker much faster than we play the table games.
If you're playing 50 hands an hour or so at Caribbean Stud, you'll see a royal flush an average of once per 12,994.8 hours. If you played one four-hour session a week, you'd see a royal about once every 62.5 years. If you just want to SEE a royal and don't worry that you're not the one getting the payback, and are always playing at a full-seven player table and count the dealer's hand, on the average you'll see one in a little less than 8 years.
Video poker is played much faster than 50 hands an hour. I've been clocked at a bit more than 700 hands an hour, and I have friends and acquaintances who play 800 hands an hour or more. Those are at the fast end, but 400 to 500 hands an hour is a nice, easy pace. At 500 hands an hour, you can divide all those Caribbean Stud times by 10 --- we see a dealt royal not once per 12,994.8 hours, but once per 1,299.48. At one four-hour session a week, we'll see it once per 6.25 years. Those who play more will see dealt royals more often.
When it happens on the deal, it's extra-exciting, even if it's only on a single-hand game. I remember a Super Bowl weekend when my father, brother and I were in Las Vegas. My brother had a phone call to make, so my dad and I split a session of 25-cent 8-5 Bonus Poker. We both put in money, and one would play until he had a losing hand, then the other would take over. On one of my turns, all five high hearts came up, and we had $1,000 to split --- which more than made up for backing the wrong football team.
That was memorable. For it to happen on Ten Play --- well, I can understand if my caller is still celebrating.
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On the subject of royal flushes, I recently played in a casino that had two banks of quarter Double Double Bonus Poker machines. One had 9-6 Double Double Bonus, a 99.0 percent game with expert play. The other had 8-5 Double Double Bonus, dropping full house paybacks to 8-for-1 and flushes to 5-for-1, but also paid a progressive jackpot on royal flushes. With the royal at the rollover value of $1,000, the 8-5 version pays a mere 96.8 percent with expert play.
At what point is the return on the 8-5 progressive as high as the 9-6 game with no progressive pot? Each 2,000 coins the jackpot increases adds roughly 1 percent to the payback percentage. In the case of a quarter game, that means about 1 percent per $500. Using that rule of thumb, we'd expect quarter 8-5 Double Double Bonus to approach 99 percent with a jackpot of about $2,000. That's pretty close. At $2,000 for the royal, 8-5 Double Double Bonus returns 99.05 percent with expert play.
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
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John Grochowski