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1 November 2014
By Henry Tamburin
QUESTION: How many times can I except to be dealt four cards to the royal flush?
ANSWER: That’s a good question because being dealt four to the royal flush is an exciting event. The odds of being dealt four cards to the royal flush are 1 in 2,777. Assuming you play 500 hands per hour (about average for a recreational player), you can expect to be dealt four cards to the royal flush about once every 5.5 hours.
QUESTION: I like to play Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker. If I’m dealt a four-card flush and a four-card straight in the same hand, which should I hold?
ANSWER: Let’s suppose you are dealt 4c-5h-6h-7h-10h. If you hold the four card straight 4-5-6-7, you’ll need a 3 or 8 on the draw to get a paying straight (with a 4 for 1 payoff). There are four 3’s and four 8’s in the remaining 47 undealt cards so the odds of getting the straight are 8/47. If you held the four card flush instead (5h-6h-7h-10h) and draw one card, the odds of drawing another heart are 9/47 (there are 13 cards with the heart suit per deck, four are in your hand, leaving nine in the undealt deck). Additionally, the payoff for a flush is greater (5 for 1) than a straight (4 for 1). The bottom line is the expected value of holding the four-card flush is much higher than holding the four-card straight (5.74 vs. 3.04 in Jacks or Better). You should always hold the four-card flush over a consecutive four-card straight.
QUESTION: I was dealt a high pair and a four-card straight flush with a gap. I held the high pair because I though it was a better hold than holding the straight flush with a gap. Did I make the right play?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, no. You should always hold any (meaning, with or without gaps) four-card straight flush over a high pair (game with no wild cards). This means if you were dealt 7c-9c-10c-Jc-Jh, you would still hold the 7c-9c-10c-Jc (even though it contains a gap, meaning it is not consecutive) over the high pair.
QUESTION: If I’m dealt two pairs in deuces wild, should I hold the two pair or just one pair? (I say hold two pair; my friend says only hold one pair).
ANSWER: The answer depends on how much the full house pays. For example, if the full house pays 20 coins per coin played you should hold the two pair, but if it pays only 15 coins, the better play is to hold a pair (any pair will do).
QUESTION: I like playing deuces wild. What is the probability of being dealt three or four deuces? How about no deuces?
ANSWER: The probability of being dealt three deuces is 1 in 516, meaning it will occur about once per hour on average. The probability of getting four deuces on the deal is 1 in 54,145. On average, two-thirds of your hands won’t contain any deuce.
QUESTION: I find Jacks or Better boring because all the four-of-a-kind hands pay the same amount (125 coins with max coins bet). I’d rather play Double Double Bonus because you can win a lot more with four aces and a kicker. Why would anyone not want to play Double Double Bonus?
ANSWER: The answer is simple. The best paying Jacks or Better game has an expected return (EV) of 99.54% whereas the best paying Double Double Bonus game has a lower EV (98.96%). The other factor that is much better for Jacks or Better is the frequently hit two pairs pay 2 for 1, whereas in Double Double Bonus, it pays only 1 for 1. This means the variance (swings in your bankroll) is much greater for Double Double Poker. I’d much rather play a game that has a higher EV and less variance any day than one with a lower EV and higher variance.
QUESTION: What’s the best way to learn the strategies for video poker?
ANSWER: I recommend three products. First, you can read a good book on video poker. (I recommend Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner by Bob Dancer, and Frugal Video Poker by Jean Scott and Viktor Nacht.)
Second, you can purchase video poker training software (CD) that you pop in your computer at home and play any number of video poker games (and the software alerts you when you make a playing mistake). (I recommend two software products: Video Poker for Winners and Optimum Video Poker.)
Third, you should take a video poker strategy card with you when you play and refer to it if you are not sure how to play a hand. (I recommend the strategy cards by Bob Dancer and Liam Daily.)
Got a question? Send it to me at HTamburin@aol.com.
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