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Best of John Grochowski

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The lucky and unlucky ones

18 June 2015

In a former column, I wrote about a woman who had been betting one coin per hand at a 10 Play Poker game. She accidentally hit the max bet button, but her mistake paid off big when she was dealt four aces, then drew several low card kickers. That accident turned into a $6,000 win.

In the same column, I relayed a story from a man who always wagers the maximum five coins at a time on single-hand video poker games. He lamented being down to his last three quarters on the credit meter, playing a hand anyway – and having that be the time he drew the royal flush.

The incident of a short-coin royal brought an objection from a reader.

“I was puzzled by the 75-cent royal issue. That guy should have been tickled to get $187.50 instead of moaning about the less than full pay royal. The RNG would have moved along if he put more change in. Did I miss something there?”

It is true that if the player had stopped to add money to his credit meter so he had enough to bet the max, the random number generator would have moved and he would have drawn a different hand. The likelihood is that he was better off with his 750-quarter payoff than he’d have been with adding money to the meter, or cashing out his 75 cents and investing it in a penny slot.

Still, not many players who are used to betting five quarters at a time and playing for a $1,000 royal would be celebrating the smaller payoff. I’ve known several who have had that happen, and all were kicking themselves even though they understood their result probably would have been different with a max bet.

And truth be told, betting two, three coins or four coins on a five-coin video poker game is a mistake in terms of exposure to the house edge.

The player didn’t say what game he was playing, so I’ll use 9-6 Jacks or Better as an example. As on most video poker games, payoffs are proportionate to wagers, except for a leap on the royal return when you bet five coins.

With one coin wagered, a royal pays 250 coins, and rises to 500 for a two-coin bet, 750 for three and 1,000 for four. Betting that fifth coin doesn’t add another 250 coins to the royal payoff, it adds 3,000, to bring the total jackpot to 4,000 coins.

A consequence is that payback percentages are lower when you don’t bet the max. The 99.6-percent overall return with optimal play breaks down into 98.4 percent with one, two, three or four coins wagered, but a 103.9 percent return on the fifth coin to bring up the overall return.

Per 1,000 hands, average losses are 16 coins with one coin wagered, 32 for a two-coin bet, 48 for three or 64 for four. Betting a fifth coin reduces those losses to 20 per 1,000 hands. Average losses per 1,000 hands are less if you bet five coins than if you bet two, three or four.

Bankroll considerations have to be taken into account, and there’s nothing wrong with a short-bankrolled player who can’t afford to bet the max setting for one-coin wagers for a little entertainment. Once you get up to three- and four-coin wagers, however, you’re increasing exposure to the house edge without taking the benefit of that profitable fifth coin.

So yes, the short-coin player did make a mistake in wagering outside his usual five-coin pattern – even if the results were in his favor.

Look for John Grochowski 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:

> More Books By John Grochowski