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Gaming Guru

 

Double-up Option

26 March 2004

The double-up option is increasingly being offered on more versions of Video Poker, raising the questions as to whether players should exercise that option and if so, for how long. In general, any even-up bet should be considered attractive, like the odds bets at a Craps table, but there are a few warnings to heed.
    First, make sure the proposition is an even-money game, with no edge to the house. If the game replays all ties, then the return on the optional card-matching game is 100 percent; if the player loses the ties, or if a "house card" is designated (example, HI-LOW with 8 as the house card), the player is at an intolerable 7.6 percent disadvantage.

    Second, make sure the primary Video Poker game is offering an attractive
    payback. The average overall Video Poker/card-match combination payback will usually exceed that of the Video Poker alone, as we show below. But, it does not make sense to end up with a lower overall payback than might be available from higher paying non-double-up Video Pokers.

    Thirdly, players should understand the basic stats governing the game. Most Video Pokers, especially the Joker Wild (the traditional double-up version) and Jacks or Better (a recent recipient of the double-up option) have hit frequencies of about 45 percent. The double-up option can be exercised only when the player has hit a payout or has won on the double-up immediately before. We can understand how many even-up games are played by considering what happens in a 1,000 hand session of Video Poker. The player will have 450 chances to double-up and will win 225 of these. On the second try, 112 will succeed, then 56, 28, 14, 7, 3 and finally, only 1. In all, the 1,000 Video Poker hands will be supplemented by 900 even-up card-match games. The overall payback to all of the players not be affected by the double-up games, since the house holds no edge in these.

However, two other side-effects of the double-up will be apparent:

    (a) The number of winners will decrease and the number of losers will increase sharply, because the double-up option will redistribute the payouts from the Video Poker. The lucky doublers will end up with bigger bankrolls while the unlucky take little or nothing away from the machine. With the existing 10,000 coin limit on the doubling-up payout, the game becomes a form of lottery which completely distorts the Video Poker results alone.

    (b) The players will also sense that they are playing longer for the same bankrolls, on average. That 1,000 game session will stretch into a 1,900 game session. Since the house edge casino games is based on the number of games played, the edge is reduced appreciably. To illustrate, in a 98.5 percent payback Joker Wild session, the players would average 15 bets lost in 1,000 games. These same 15 bets will now be lost 1n 1,900 games. This, in effect raises the payback to 99.2 percent. But, for a 97 percent Video Poker machine, the double-up feature increases the payback to 98.4 percent which suggests we can do much better on other types of machines.

The final warning relates to how many times to continue the process when the double-up is working. Here, the player must remember that all of the winnings are real money, even if they apear to be just "credits" on the screen. Most players are realistic and the figures show that they usually double-up only on the low-level winners and call it quits after about 3 or 4 successive wins. After all, there's no edge for the house--which can translate to: no edge for the player. Or to put it another way, Video Poker was never recommended here as a way to alter your lifestyle--that's a job for the megabucks machines.

Lenny Frome
Lenny Frome spent 40 years in the aerospace engineering business before moving to Las Vegas. During the ensuing 10 years, he became one of the most prolific gaming authors, having written 8 books, countless tip sheets and nearly 1000 articles for a variety of gaming magazines.

Lenny's ground breaking work in the area of Video Poker earned him the title of the 'King of Video Poker'. He also wrote on a variety of other gaming topics including Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Keno and others.

Besides being an author and columnist, Lenny was the premier Gaming Consultant at the time of his passing in 1998. He helped develop paytables for Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, and consulted on literally hundreds of other gaming projects.

His son, Elliot, now follows in his footsteps, as a gaming author, analyst and consultant. Their website, and a complete catalog of all their products can be found at www.vpheaven.com. Feel free to drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Lenny Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com
Lenny Frome
Lenny Frome spent 40 years in the aerospace engineering business before moving to Las Vegas. During the ensuing 10 years, he became one of the most prolific gaming authors, having written 8 books, countless tip sheets and nearly 1000 articles for a variety of gaming magazines.

Lenny's ground breaking work in the area of Video Poker earned him the title of the 'King of Video Poker'. He also wrote on a variety of other gaming topics including Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Keno and others.

Besides being an author and columnist, Lenny was the premier Gaming Consultant at the time of his passing in 1998. He helped develop paytables for Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, and consulted on literally hundreds of other gaming projects.

His son, Elliot, now follows in his footsteps, as a gaming author, analyst and consultant. Their website, and a complete catalog of all their products can be found at www.vpheaven.com. Feel free to drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Lenny Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com