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# Deal Me In: Some profitable pre-yank reading

1 July 2011

Dear Mark: I constantly read anything you have to say about video porker strategies, which happens to be my favorite form of entertainment at a casino. You mention payoff schedules frequently and explain that the closer to 100 percent a machine pays the better. My question is where on the machine can you find these payoff schedules? I see numbers come up when I select a particular game, and the 1-2-3 coin bet. Some of these numbers are 750 or sometimes over 1,000. Are these the payoff schedules? Please advise. Steve C.

By eyeballing a video poker machine, Steve, you’ll notice that somewhere in print on the face of every machine is a payoff schedule, or as others like myself call it, a pay table. It is this payoff schedule that tells the player what each winning hand will pay for the number of coins or credits played. This should not be confused with payback percentage, which is the percent of each dollar played in a video poker machine that the machine is programmed to return to the player. Payback percentage is typically 100 percent minus the house edge, which the casino creates by adjusting the payoff schedule.

With video poker, Steve, it is the payoff schedule/pay table that tells you the maximum long-term payback percentage of a machine.

For instance, let’s look at a 9-6 Jacks or Better machine, where full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes 6-for-1. This version of Jacks or Better is regarded as a full-pay video poker machine, and returns 99.5 percent with optimal play, regardless of whether you were to play nickels, quarters or dollars. If the full house and flush paybacks were reduced to 8 and 5, your return would drop accordingly to 97.3 percent, and 7-5 machine returns only 96.2 percent. The house can figuratively take a screwdriver to the payoff schedule to create the casino advantage they wish.

So, Steve, with reading glasses in hand, on a 9-6 Jacks or Better machine, your payoff schedule should look like this, with one coin inserted:

Royal Flush 250

Straight Flush 50

Four of a Kind 25

Full House 9

Flush 6

Straight 4

Three of a Kind 3

Two Pair 2

Jacks or Better 1

Oh, and those numbers, 750, or sometimes over 1,000, yes, they are part of the payoff schedule, dealing exclusively with the big kahuna, the royal flush. By and large, a Jacks or Better game pays 250 coins for one coin inserted, 500 for two, 750 for three, 1,000 for four, and when you put that fifth coin in, the payment soars to 4,000 coins.

Dear Mark: You recently mentioned 100.7 percent payback from full-pay Deuces Wild machines provided we use "strategies that are developed for each particular full-pay version." I am a confirmed Pilarski strategy card carrier since the days you were in Tahoe, but didn't know you if you had developed a card, or strategy, specific to Deuces Wild (as opposed to your Jacks or Better). The 100.7 percent very much appeals to me. Where do I get the specific strategy? Is it available on a card? John O.

Full-pay Deuces Wild is one of the best video poker games with regard to a theoretical return on your investment (100.7 percent), so using a strategy card as a quick reference for correct decisions on this, or any video poker machine, is highly recommended.

Because every video poker game has its own individual strategy to get to its theoretical return, you cannot use my Jacks or Better strategy card when playing Deuces Wild.

As of yet, John, I have not created a strategy card for Deuces Wild, but for now, your best bet is to check at the Gamblers Book Club. Their collection of strategy cards is extensive, and the Gamblers Book Club does have multiple full-pay Deuces strategy cards.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I started shooting craps like they was goin' to close up the place . . . and I lost all the money I had on me. But what the hell, it was a lot of fun." -- William "Si" Redd, from his biography, King of the Slots
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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.