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28 June 2017

Question: The Gold Coast in Las Vegas is running a Double Your Royal promotion on Sundays in June. Is this a good promotion? Should I change my strategy? And should I wait until the promotion to play video poker? I don't want to hurt my chances of hitting a royal during the promotion.

Answer: Doubling the value of your royal flush is really a best case scenario in this promotion. When you hit a royal flush, you're given a voucher to take to the slot club, where you'll draw an envelope from one of three drums based on the denomination you were playing. The value in the envelope determines how many slot dollars you'll get for your royal. If you hit your royal on a quarter machine, you'll draw from a drum with envelopes ranging from \$50 to \$1,000. The envelopes in the drum for half-dollar machines contain values from \$75 to \$2,000. And the envelopes in the drum for dollars and up have values from \$100 to \$4,000.

The first problem in analyzing the promotion is that we don't know the distribution of the values in the envelopes, so we can't calculate the expected value for the envelope draw. The second problem is you get slot dollars and not cash. One hundred slot dollars could turn into thousands of real dollars or nothing.

Let's be very conservative and assume you'll get 100 slot dollars for the royal you hit on a dollar NSUD machine. Now let's change the value of a royal to \$4100 and generate the strategy using the strategy generator on the Wizard of Odds site. The only strategy change is favoring a 2-card royal King high over a 4-card inside straight. You can generate the strategy using a larger value for the slot dollar reward, but my experience with these sorts of drawings is that the I usually get the lowest value possible.

It's not a great promotion, but it's not bad if you're an Emerald-level player. You can play NSUD at long-term breakeven with 3x points and even squeeze out a bit of a profit if you use your points for food.

You don't have to worry about hitting a royal before the promotion affecting your chances of hitting a royal during the promotion. The machines don't know how long it's been since you hit a royal. Your chances of hitting a royal are the same on every hand — even the hand right after you hit a royal. The reason we don't see players hit many royals in close proximity is because hitting a royal is an unlikely event. And having an unlikely event happen twice in a row or within close proximity is even more unlikely.

I gave this promotion a shot the past two Sundays. I figured that the extra slot dollars for the royal would have little effect on the strategy, so I didn't generate a new strategy until I received your question. I have to admit, though, that towards the end of each day without hitting a royal that I went a little more aggressively for a royal and held King-high 2-card royals over inside straights and even 2-card royals with an ace.

I never got a royal, but I can't tell you how many times I got four cards to the royal. I can't tell you because I didn't keep track. But it sure seems like every time I held a 3-card royal I'd get only one of the cards I needed to complete it.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots