Stay informed with the
Recent Articles

# Deal Me In: Either way, it's still a random draw

30 August 2013

Dear Mark: Are the cards behind the initial five shown already in place behind each shown card, or are they dealt off the top of a deck? For example, the cards are shown in this order: 4-5-5-6-7. Does it matter which five you hold or throw away trying for the straight? Frank K.

Back in the day, Frank, most video poker machines operated using parallel dealing. Then, you were dealt all 10 cards simultaneously. Your display cards and any draw replacements were all selected in advance. Today, most machines employ serial dealing, where replacement cards are dealt right from the top of the deck.

As for those remaining 47 cards, they are continuously being shuffled, and it is not until you press the draw button that you get whatever card(s) are on top of the deck at that precise moment. Since the draw is random from an uninterrupted deck, it really doesn't matter which five you hold or discard.

Because all cards are shuffled and displayed randomly, be it all 10 cards predetermined in advance or the draw cards dealt from the top of the deck, it would have no effect on your outcome.

So, why the switch-a-roo?

Well, an IGT techie once told me that when all 10 cards were dealt at once, the random number generator could be vulnerable to a whiz who tracks sequences and that he or she could enter the cards dealt and drawn into a computer program, possibly determining what the future draw cards might be.

One thing that I learned early and often in this business is that the casino industry is known for overzealous game protection.

Dear Mark: You say that you are supposed to hit 6s versus a 2, however, I was looking at the Wizard of Odds website and his calculator shows to split for every strategy variation. I had an argument about this with someone in a casino who also told me that one of her charts said to hit even though I had never seen that before. David P.

First, and foremost, I am not one to challenge the Wizard of Odds. More often than not, I rely on Sister Cyrilla's sixth grade math class, where I first learned about, and became hooked on, percentages. Therefore, David, I do not purport to be a math wizard. Michael Shackleford, on the other hand, IS the Wizard of Odds.

When it comes to any of these blackjack strategy cards, they are based on the mathematical probabilities of the game, and provide you guidance on the best decisions to make with every possible situation during each hand. Nevertheless, not all strategy cards are exactly alike.

Regarding your inquiry, more than half of the 40 different strategy cards I possess affirm that you should hit those 6s against a deuce, and not split on a multi-deck game. Of that near half that advised splitting, some of those recommended that you only split 6s on a single-deck game, which I did mention in said column.

Because the difference between splitting and just hitting will have little effect on your overall return during your personal gambling timeline, I recommend playing it as you please, not necessarily as Yours Truly advises.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: Every conscious act requires risk. Every conscious act requires decision. Put these two facts together and you realize that the secret to life is not to avoid gambling, but to gamble well. – Mike Caro, Mike Caro on Gambling (1984)
Recent Articles
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.