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# Video poker and the RNG

10 October 2019

QUESTION: I like Hundred Play Poker, but I like playing for cheap. Where I usually play, they have a machine where you can choose 1 cent, 5 cents or 25 cents, and I always choose 1 cent. At five coins per hand and 100 hands, that’s \$5, just like a one-hand dollar machine, and you get to see all those hands.

My wife and I were visiting her sister and brother-in-law, and we all went out to a casino together. My eyes lit up when I saw Hundred Play, but then I saw the minimum was nickels. There’s no way I was making \$25 bets, no matter how much I like the game.

My brother-in-law point out that I didn’t have to play 100 hands, that I could play 10 and still bet my \$5. You still get the full pay tables, just on fewer hands.

That was OK. Not the same, but OK. But it left me with a question. Does the random number generator change when I’m betting only 10 hands? Does it adjust for those who bet less than the full 100?

ANSWER: The random number generator doesn’t know how much you’re betting. All it does is generate random numbers, and it’s up to other parts of the package to map those numbers onto cards and pay the appropriate amounts on winners.

The cards you get when you bet 10 hands are no better and no worse than when you bet 100 hands. Winners will appear in the same proportions no matter how many hands you play.

However, you should be careful and pay attention to pay tables. With a 9-6 pay table, Double Double Bonus Poker is a 98.98% game with expert play. That drops to 97.87% with 9-5 pays, 96.79% at 8-5 and 95.71% at 7-5.

Was the pay table on your Hundred Play machine better, worse or the same as you could have had on a single-hand, Triple Play, Five Play, Ten Play or Fifty Play game? Is Hundred Play entertainment worth playing for a dramatically reduced return?

Maybe the Hundred Play pay table was fine, and maybe to you the entertainment factor is worth a couple of percentage points, But I urge you to do some pay table comparison shopping before you bet your money.

QUESTION: If I’m in a casino that has \$1 9-6 Jacks or Better and I play at expert level and average a 99.5% return, and the casino also has \$5 blackjack game with rules good enough for a half-percent edge against a basic strategy player, which game should I play?

ANSWER: Given a five-coin max bet on the video poker game and a minimum bet at the blackjack table, you’re betting \$5 per hand with a half-percent house edge either way.

However, you play many more hands at the video poker game, At blackjack, you might get in 50 to 60 hands per hour at a full table, ranging up to 200-plus if you’re head-to-head with the dealer. At video poker, a fast player can get in 800-plus hands per hour.

You’re risking more money per hour at the faster game, so average losses per hour will be higher at video poker. Also, about 2% of video poker’s payback is tied up in the long-shot chance at a royal flush jackpot. When the royals don’t come, average losses are higher at video poker.

That said, as long as you stay within your bankroll limits and don’t risk money you need to pay the bills, there’s nothing wrong with picking the game you find more entertaining.
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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.

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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.