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Odds at Pick 'Em Poker, Ball Control in Roulette18 May 2004
A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag, with questions on Pick 'Em poker and roulette:
A. Let's start with a little explanation of Pick 'Em, which is not as common on casino floors as are five-card draw poker games. In Pick 'Em, the player sees four cards on the initial deal. On two, there is no decision - they remain part of the player's final five-card hand. The others are the top cards in two three-card stacks. The player chooses one stack to round out the hand.
There is no draw once you have your five cards. Since you're really only eliminating one possible card from a 52-card deck, odds are much closer to those on five-card stud poker than on five-card draw. Royal flushes occur an average of once per 315,818 hands, instead of the once per 40,000 or so on five-card draw games.
Straight flushes come up an average of once per 38,451 hands in Pick 'Em, making them nearly as rare as royals in draw poker.
As for four-of-a-kind hands, Bill is correct - hitting seven within 5,530 hands is far above normal frequency. On the average, Pick 'Em players hit four of a kind once per 2,361 hands. In Bill's 5,530 hands, normal expectation would be for two to three sets of quads.
Frequency of other winning hands in Pick 'Em comes to once per 424 hands for full houses; once per 314 hands for flushes; once per 197 for straights; once per 33 for three of a kind; once per 16 for two pair, and once per 4.4 for a pair of 9s or better. Overall, Pick 'Em players win about 33 percent of all hands, compared with about 40 percent in most five-card draw games.
However, payoffs on winning hands are higher in Pick 'Em than in other games. Given a five-coin wager, full-pay Pick 'Em pays 6,000 coins for a royal, 1,199 for a straight flush, 600 for four of a kind, 90 for a full house, 75 for a flush, 55 for a straight, 25 for three of a kind, 15 for two pair and 10 for a pair of 9s or better. The expected return in the long run with expert play is 99.95 percent.
A. You've about covered it. With the wheel spinning one way, the ball going in the opposite direction, bouncing on the surface and from fret to fret separating the numbers, there are far too many physical variables for a dealer to control where the ball will land.
Dealers not only can't control where the ball is going, their employers don't want them to. As long as the results are random, the casino makes its money. With a random wheel, the house has a 5.26 percent house edge on a double-zero game that is unchanging.
However, if a dealer could control what numbers were coming up, there's a chance someone would be in on the secret and take a lot of money from the casino. That's the last thing the owners want. Random games mean big profits for the operators. Taking the randomness out increases operator risk.
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