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# Acing ACES Bonus Poker

2 November 2004

My husband and I were playing those Game King machines with a bunch of different video poker games on them. He started playing 8-5 Bonus Poker, and I noticed that there was also 8-5 ACES Bonus Poker, which gives the same payoffs as Bonus Poker except that four aces in the right order pays 4,000 coins instead of 400.

I asked my husband if we should play ACES instead and take a chance at the bonus, and he said he thought they fixed it so that the aces came up less often on that game.

Is that how they work it? Do they give you the big bonus if you get lucky, but fix it so that you don't get lucky so often?

Sally

Given the same strategy, four aces or any other winning hand will occur with the same frequency, regardless of pay table. Expert players will make some strategy adjustments that will cause four-ace hands to come up more often - not less - in ACES than in regular Bonus Poker.

The random number generator program that determines the cards that are dealt is the same program whether we're playing Bonus Poker, ACES, Triple Double Bonus Poker or any other 52-card variation of five-card draw video poker. The pay table has nothing to do with which cards we see; it just determines how much we're paid once we have our final hand.

In ACES Bonus Poker, each ace has a letter displayed on the card - "A," "C," "E" or "S." If a four-ace hand spells out "ACES" in the proper order on consecutive cards - the fifth, non-ace card may not appear in the middle of the hand - the payoff for a five-coin wager is 4,000 coins instead of the usual 400 on four Aces.

Drawing the four Aces in the proper order is a fairly rare event - less common than even a royal flush. In the 8-5 version, where full houses pay 8-for-1 and flushes pay 5-for-1, Bonus Poker returns 99.2 percent in the long run with expert play. The ACES bonus raises that theoretical return only to 99.4 percent.

Strategy for Bonus Poker and ACES Bonus Poker is nearly identical. There are a few situations in which we might alter our play to chase the bonus. For example, if we have a full house in which the first three cards are aces that spell out "ACE," or the last three are aces that spell out "CES," we'll discard the other pair. If the three aces are in any other order, we keep the full house instead.

Because we chase the aces more often, they will come up more often. Similarly, when we adapt our strategy for games such as Super Aces, the effect is to increase the number of four-ace hands. In Super Aces, which pays 2,000 coins for a five-coin bet on any four-ace hand, we'll break up two pair that includes a pair of aces, and just hold the aces, while in many other games (Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Jacks or Better), we'll hold both pair.

The effect of the Super Aces strategy adjustment is to increase the number of four-ace and three-of-a-kind hands, while decreasing the number of full houses. It's our strategy that makes the difference, not any change in the way cards are dealt.

I was playing roulette and doing OK until an unbelievable run that turned the whole table cold. First there was a zero, then another one, then a double-zero.

Three times in a row, the number was either zero or double-zero, and everyone lost their bets.

What are the odds of that? Do you think there was something wrong with the game?

R.A.

If you play roulette enough, you'll see streaks where the same number hits three times in a row. Such things aren't common, but they're well within the range of normal probability.

A streak of three spins where the number is either zero or double-zero is much more common than those streaks of three in a row of the same number.

There are 38 numbers on an American double-zero roulette wheel - 1 through 36, plus the two zeroes. For any one number, there is a 1 in 38 chance it will turn up on a given spin. When we're talking about two numbers, such as zero and double-zero, the chance of one or the other turning up is 1 in 19.

For a given number to show up three times in a row, the odds are 1 in 54,872 (38 times 38 times 38). For one or the other of two numbers to show up three times in a row, the odds drop to 1 in 6,859 (19 times 19 times 19). It's not something you'll see every time you play, but it'll happen sometimes without anything being wrong with the game.

You mentioned that your Video Poker Answer Book is available, but not where it is sold. I would like to purchase a copy before we head to Las Vegas.

Donna

It should be back in bookstores, and online merchants including Amazon.com stock it. Autographed copies are available for \$12.95 postpaid from Running Count Press, Box 1488, Elmhurst, IL 60126.

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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.

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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.