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Best of John Grochowski

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Vanishing video poker

22 February 2018

QUESTION: I've been playing video poker a long time, maybe even longer than you have. I remember lining up for machines, 1979, 1980 or so.

There used to be a game called 7s Wild. It had the same pay table as Deuces Wild, except with wild 7s. (Make sense, right?)

Why do you think the 7s version disappeared? Does it matter which card is wild? Couldn't they do an 8s wild or a 5s wild or any other card that felt lucky to you?

ANSWER: Certainly, gamemakers could program a game to make any card wild. They could even program a game to let you choose your own wild card. However, choosing anything but a two would not be in your favor.

The problem is that other cards can be involved in more straights and straight flushes than twos without being wild. Having a card in the middle of the deck as the wild card leads to fewer straights and straight flushes than making the two wild.

Natural sevens are part of straights ranking 3-4-5-6-7, 4-5-6-7-8, 5-6-7-8-9, 6-7-8-9-10, and 7-8-9-10-J. Start a hand with the non-sevens in those hands, and if twos are wild you can complete the straight with any of the four twos or any of the four natural sevens.

Natural twos are part of straights ranking A-2-3-4-5 and 2-3-4-5-6. Remove the twos, and if sevens are wild you can complete the straights with any of the four sevens or any of the four natural twos.

You can see that using twos as the wild card helps complete more straights than having sevens wild. Because of that, if pay tables are equal, a Deuces Wild machine will have a higher payback percentage than a sevens wild game.

Aces are involved in as few straights as twos, but aces wild also would have a lower return than deuces wild. That's because of the effect on wild royal flushes. Dealt 10-J-Q-K suited, if 2s are wild you'd get a wild royal with any of the four 2s or a natural royal with suited ace. If aces are wild, you'd still get a natural royal with the suited ace, but would get wild royals only on the three unsuited aces.

Should any gamemaker ever market a choose your own wild card game, you're best off to choose deuces.


QUESTION: On a five-reel video slot, five in a row of one symbol was paying less than three in a row of another. That doesn't seem fair, does it? Five in a row is hard to get, and it should be celebrated more than three in a row, even if the other symbol is harder.

ANSWER: Five in a row of a low-paying symbol is not necessarily harder to get than three in a row of a premium symbol. It's very likely that the game you have was programmed so the premium symbols shows up so rarely that three in a row is a less common event than five in a row of the low payer.

Games are designed to keep players interested: Game math, pay tables, frequency of wins, and frequency of big wins vs. small wins are all part of the package. Players need frequent wins and a realistic possibility of medium-to-large wins to keep them at the games.

On some games, good-sized payoffs on three-in-a-row combinations are important parts of game math. If it's important to you that all five-in-a-row wins pay more than all three-in-a-row wins, then you might want to check the pay tables before you play.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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