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# Flush penalty cards and trend betting

30 August 2015

QUESTION: In a recent column, you talked about a flush penalty card. What is that?

ANSWER: In video poker, a flush penalty card is one in your initial hand that is the same suit as other cards you are considering holding and would decrease your chances of drawing a flush if you discarded it.

For example, if you're dealt Jack-10-8-4 of hearts and 2 of diamonds, and you're trying to decide whether to hold Jack-10-8 to go for a straight flush, one of the considerations is that even if you don't draw the straight flush, it's possible to draw a flush. Discarding the 4 means there's one fewer card available that could be part of a flush. A reduced chance of drawing a flush is your penalty for discarding the 4. Thus, the 4 is a flush penalty card.

The specific hand referred to in a July column on strategies for 8/5 Bonus Poker with a progressive jackpot for royal flushes. As the jackpot increases, we change strategies to take more chances at a royal.

One example given was holding the potential two-card royal flush, Jack-10, vs. holding the Jack with a King in a different suit, given that one of the discards was going to be a 3 in the same suit as the Jack-10.

In that case, the 3 is a penalty card that makes holding suited Jack-10 less valuable by limiting the flush possibilities. Because of that penalty, it’s a better play to hold the unsuited King-Jack to give you more potential high pair pays provided the jackpot is less than 4,745 coins, but a better play to hold Jack-10 with the jackpot is higher.

Either way, you’re going to discard the 3, but it’s the influence on the potential of the suited Jack-10 that makes it a penalty card.

QUESTION: Why is it that there are boards that show the last 18 or so winning numbers at roulette everywhere I play now? When I started playing 20-some years ago, nobody was giving away that information. Now everybody does. Why the change?

ANSWER: First of all, a tote board doesn’t cost the casino anything other than the price of the equipment and the power to run it. Showing you the most recent numbers doesn’t change the odds of the game one bit. On a double-zero wheel, the chances of any given number showing up are 1 in 38, every time, no matter what has gone before.

Some systems with electronic betting will show you a lot more than that. At the touch of a screen, you can find number history, streaks, hit percentages for each number over the last 1,000 spins – just about anything you could want to know about what’s gone on at that wheel. The casino can freely give away that information, because as long as the wheel is balanced properly, the odds are unchanging and the information doesn’t give players an edge.

But those are reasons the casinos needn’t fear the information, not reasons they should invest in sharing it. That reason is simple: It’s popular. Players like it, and have proven it with their pocketbooks, When the first tote boards went up at roulette tables, casinos found that play increased by 30%.

Nobody in table games management wanted to be left behind as players gravitated toward wheels that shared recent winning numbers. So more and more operators added the tote boards until we reached today’s situation where everybody has them and they’re part of the standard equipment for roulette.
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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.

#### 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.