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Class II vs. Class III video poker machines13 April 2013
A Class III video poker machine has a Random Number Generator (RNG) software program that randomly selects cards from a 52 virtual deck (assuming no wild cards). When you press the deal button, the RNG selects five cards at random, which is the initial five cards that you see on your screen. The RNG continues to shuffle the remaining 47-card deck until you decide which cards you want to hold. When you hit the draw button, the shuffling stops and the replacement cards are selected from the top of the shuffled 47-cards deck.
By law, each card has to have the same probability of being selected on the deal and draw; therefore, the probability of selecting any card is the same as it would be if you randomly drew cards from a freshly shuffled deck of cards. The probability of getting a winning hand by this random selection process is well known (e.g., the probability of getting a royal flush is 1 in roughly 40,000 hands).
A Class II video poker machine does not have a RNG inside of it. Instead, the machine is connected to a central computer server whose function is to draw bingo balls. The result of the bingo game is a “game-ending pattern.” This is a pattern of numbers on a bingo card, such as four-in-row, four corners, round robin, etc., that ends the bingo game with a winning result and a prize.
There is a specific timeframe (e.g., 20 milliseconds) in which anyone in the casino that hits the deal button on a video poker machine (or spin button on a slot machine) is entered into an electronic bingo game for that common ball drop. Each player has their own bingo card, which they can see on the face of their machine. The player that has the winning bingo pattern will win a monetary prize.
For example, the game of Jacks-or-Better has nine winning hands. If the winning bingo pattern results in a prize for the bingo game of, say 10 coins, then the player will end up with a hand consisting of two pair (the payout for two pair with max coins bet is 10 coins).
Class II video poker games must involve player participation in an electronic bingo game. Therefore, you must be playing bingo against one (or more) players. You could be playing against other video poker players or even other slot players. It really doesn’t matter what the player interface machine is that will display the results of a bingo game (for video poker, it’s cards on a screen; for slots, it’s the usual symbols you see on the reels of a slot machine).
If you happen to be the only player in a casino, you can’t play (if you try, a message will appear on your screen, stating “waiting for more players”). However, in some gaming jurisdictions, Class II machines in one casino could be linked to Class II machines in another casino, so it’s possible you could be playing a game of bingo against a player in a different casino.
In a Class II video poker machine, playing skill is futile because the result of your hand is already predetermined by the pattern of the winning bingo game. Therefore, deciding what cards to hold prior to hitting the draw button does nothing to improve your chances of winning. Class II video poker machines are bingo games in disguise. There is no skill involved in playing them and the return on the game is unknown to players. Play these machines for entertainment. Class III video poker machines are a skill-based casino game where the skill of the player can influence the outcome. With a Class III video poker machine, it’s relatively easy to determine the Expected Return of the game from its pay schedule.
Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the host of the smartgaming.com website and the editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter.
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.
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