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Royals, money lines and streaks

24 May 2015

QUESTION: I play 10-7-5 Double Bonus Video Poker. I kept track of how many hours I play before get a royal and it seems that I get them about every 100 to 110-plus hours of play. What I read before was that it should happen in 48+ hours of play.

What are your thoughts on how many hours?

ANSWER: It's partly dependent on how fast you play. Given optimal strategy for 10-7-5 Double Bonus, royals occur about once per 48,000 hands. It would take extraordinarily fast play – 1,000 hands per hour – to average a royal per 48 hours. I know people who play that fast, but they are exceptions. When I play that fast, I make mistakes.

At more normal levels, if you play fast, 800 hands per hour, that's about 1 per 60 hours. If you play at moderate speed, 600 hands per hour, that's 1 per 80 hours. If you play slow, 400 hands per hour, that's 1 per 120 hours.

Beyond that, royals are such rare hands, you can appear to be far above or below normal for fairly lengthy periods. The expectation for any given session is that you will not draw a royal, and playing 48,000 hands is no guarantee that a royal will come. Sometimes, you’ll draw two, three or more with that much play, but it’s common to go hundreds of thousands of hands without one.

Over millions of hands, the odds of the game drive royals toward an expected average. But there’s room for a lot of variation in short-term results.

QUESTION: Since we’re into baseball season, can you explain the odds? I was looking at the board in a sports book in Vegas, and it listed a Nationals-Mets game as Nationals +105 and Mets -115. I’m a Mets fan and I’m always tempted to bet on them, but I’m not really a sports bettor.

ANSWER: What you saw is called the “money line,” and you can find it in other sports, too. When you make a money line wager, you’re simply betting the team you pick will win the game. There is no points spread involved, so your team doesn’t have to win by any specific number of runs.

The team with the negative number is the favorite in the game, and the numbers correlate to a \$100 base. If you bet on the Mets at -115, it means it takes a \$115 wager to win \$100. If instead, you bet on the underdog Nats at +105, a \$100 wager will win \$105 if the Nationals win.

You don’t have to bet \$100. Payoffs are prorated to the amount of your bet, so that you could bet \$11.50 to win \$10 on the Mets, or bet \$10 to win \$10.50 on the Nationals.

QUESTION: What’s the longest losing streak you ever had? I’m wondering, because I lost eight blackjack hands in a row before push, then lost five more before I finally won a hand.

ANSWER: Ouch. That is one tough streak, losing 13 decisions in a row when discounting the push, where no money changes hands. I haven’t kept track of such streaks, but I do remember a blackjack session where I had only two winners while losing a \$100 bill, \$5 at time, and a video poker session at a quarter game, betting \$1.25 a hand, where I lost a \$20 bill without a winner – 16 losers in a row. There’s nothing to do about it. Streaks happen, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to take when you’re in the middle of one.
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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.