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# Royals and insurance

18 October 2015

QUESTION: I’m new to video poker, and everybody tells me Jacks or Better is the easiest game, so that’s what I’m playing for right now. It seems like the goal is to draw a royal flush. That would be \$1,000 on the quarter games I play. I could make good use of \$1,000!

My question is, how much money do you need to be certain you’ll get a royal flush in quarter video poker? I’ve read the royals come about once in 40,000 hands, but you’re getting other payoffs along the way, so you don’t really have to have 40,000 bets worth to be sure of a royal, do you? Betting the five coins at quarters, that’s \$50,000!

ANSWER: You’re never really certain of getting a royal. The odds are the same on every hand, so if your chances of drawing royal are 1 in 40,000 on the first hand, they’re also 1 in 40,000 on the 10th, 500th, 40,000th, or any other number, regardless of whether you’ve already had a royal.

Also, given expert strategy, the chances of drawing a royal are different for different games and pay tables. If you’re in an area that has 9/6 Jacks or Better, royals turn up an average of once per 40,391 hands. If you step down to 8/5 Jacks or Better, where full houses pay 8-for-1 and flushes 5-for-1, royals come about once per 40,169 hands.

That doesn’t mean you can’t go 40,000 or 100,000 or more hands without a royal. You can, just as you can draw two or three in relatively few hands. But over millions of plays, the odds of the game lead toward those averages.

OK, there’s no such thing as a 100% chance of drawing a royal. How about a 99% chance? On 9/6 Jacks or Better, a bankroll of about \$5,800 would give you a 99% chance of drawing a royal, and on 8/5 Jacks or Better, the necessary bankroll would rise to about \$10,900.

Would a 90% chance do it for you? That’s about a \$2,900 bankroll on the 9/6 game, or \$5,500 on the 8/5 version.

If that seems like a lot of money, betting \$1.25 at a time in hopes of a \$1,000 jackpot, well, it is. But long losing streaks are possible, and there’s never any certainty when results are random.

The odds of the game drive long-term trends, but in the short term, anything is possible.

QUESTION: I know you don’t like 6-5 blackjack. I also know you say never to take insurance unless you’re counting cards. But what if you’re at a table that pays 6-5 on blackjacks, you have a blackjack and the dealer has an ace up? Isn’t that the time to insure your blackjack and take even money?

ANSWER: Most casinos don’t permit insuring blackjacks at 6-5 tables. If you find a casino that allows it, then yes, insurance is a good play in that situation.

Let's say you're betting \$10 a hand, and have 1,000 blackjacks against dealer's aces. If you take even money, you win \$10 per hand for a total of \$10,000.

If you skip the insurance, on the average you'll win 692 hands and push on the 308 that the dealer matches your blackjack. When blackjacks pay 6-5, you get \$12 on each of those wins for a total of \$8,304, making even money the better play if available.

Still, 6-5 payoffs on blackjacks add 1.4% to the house edge, so I’d skip the game entirely and not worry about whether insurance is offered.
Recent Articles
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.