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Best of John Grochowski
The Casino Answer Man4 April 2001
A. The math is the same no matter how many hands you're playing, and the best percentage strategy is unchanged.
Let's say you're betting five coins at a time on 9-6 Jacks or Better, in which the "9-6" stands for a 9-for-1 payoff on full houses and a 6-for-1 payoff on flushes. You're dealt Ace-King-Queen-Jack-8 of clubs. If you hold all five cards, you assure yourself of a 30-coin return. If you discard the 8, you chance winding up with nothing, but you have a 1-in-47 chance of drawing the 10 of clubs to complete a royal flush. Taken together with the chances of drawing other straights, flushes or high pairs, your average return in the long run when you discard the 8 will be 92.13 coins. That dwarfs the 30-coin sure thing for holding all five cards.
What if you're playing 9-6 Jacks or Better on a Triple Play machine. Now, if you're betting maximum coins, you're betting 15 coins per hand. Dealt the same flush as above, your sure thing for holding all three cards is 30 coins for each of three hands, a total of 90 coins. But your average return if you discard the 8 will be 92.13 coins per hand, or a total of 276.39 coins per 15 wagered. Once again, the best percentage play is to discard the 8.
That's the way it works for all of video poker strategy. The percentages don't change. As long as the games and pay tables are the same, the best playing strategies on multihand games are the same as on single-hand machines.
Should the player ever make a lower percentage play with a bigger bet on the line? My inclination is to say no, especially in a case like this where holding the flush is a far inferior play, but a short-bankrolled player might be wary of breaking up a sure thing.
The decision gets tougher with a closer call. Let's say you're playing 10-7 Double Bonus Poker on a 50 Play machine. We're betting 250 coins at a time as we play 50 hands at once. You're dealt Ace of spades, Ace of hearts, Ace of diamonds, 9 of clubs and 9 of spades -- a full house. If you hold all five cards, your return is 50 coins on each of the 50 hands, a total of 2,500 coins.
That isn't the best percentage play. Because four Aces on Double Bonus pays 800 coins for each five wagered, our best play is to break up the full house, discard the two 9s and hope to draw a fourth Ace. You're assured three of a kind, so the minimum will be 15 coins per hand, or 750 total if you don't improve any of the hands in 50 Play. The average return in the long run will be 50.57 coins per hand, or 2,528.5 coins per 50 hands.
Is that average gain of 28.5 coins worth risking dropping from the sure-thing 2,500 coins to the minimum 750? I'd go for the percentages and break up the full house, but it's a decision each player must make for himself or herself.
For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Casino Answer Book by John Grochowski
Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
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Best of John Grochowski