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Ask the Slot Expert: Should I play multi-hand video poker?

19 September 2018

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: Single play or multiple on video poker?

I usually play 9/6 DDB or 8/5 DB at $0.25 ($1.25 per hand). I haven't played any multiple play, but wonder if it is worth it to start.

Where can I find out more info and what I'm looking for in a pay table to be equivalent to 98% payback or higher? Would it be worth it to play $0.10 multiples in video poker, and what paytable best?

Answer: The best things about plain, old multi-hand video poker are that it requires no strategy changes from the single-hand game and you can use the tables that give the long-term paybacks and strategies for video poker paytables to know the long-term payback of the paytables on the machine you're considering playing. There are no unknown random factors like how often you get a Super Pay multiplier or a Dream Card. And you don't have to alter your strategy as you do on Ultimate X and Multi-Strike. You use the same strategy whether you're playing one hand or 100. Oh, and playing multi-hand video poker can be more fun than playing single hand.

I don't know where you're located, but I'd assume that you should be able to find the paytables you mentioned in multi-hand machines. Here in Las Vegas's locals casinos, long-term paybacks on video poker peak on single-hand quarter and dollar machines. Low denomination machines and multi-hand machines have paytables with lower long-term paybacks. The lower long-term paybacks on lower denomination machines are due to their lower denominations and the lower amount of money run through them.

The lower long-term paybacks on the higher denomination machines are due to the generous slot club promotions offered at the locals casinos. Games like NSU Deuces can be breakeven without a promotion, so players can have an advantage when the casinos have multiple points days or other promotions. The casinos limit how much you can make from your advantage by not having high denomination or multi-hand machines with the best paytables.

Multi-hand video poker can be a way to move up in denomination without actually moving up in denomination. You can increase the amount you're wagering per play, yet minimize your risk compared with playing a higher denomination machine.

If you've been playing dollar machines and are thinking of trying a $5 machine, you can play a dollar five-play machine instead. You'll wager the same amount per hand, but because your risk is spread over five hands instead of one, your bankroll swings will be less severe. You won't get as many $20,000 royals on the five-play machine as on the $5 machine, but you also won't get as many hands that lose the whole $25.

Another (dis)advantage of multi-hand video poker is that the machines can slow you down depending on how they're configured. It takes considerably more time to replace discards on five hands than on one and you'll spend more time waiting for the machine to award credits because you'll frequently win something on each play. You can frequently speed up the dealing and credit counting by pressing a button. Some machines are set to award the credits in one shot instead of counting them out. And some machines have a fourth turbo setting that not only awards the credits in one shot, it also replaces discards in one shot.

One time I had about 20,000 points to go to qualify for a higher card tier. It was the end of the qualification period, so if I didn't get them that day I would have to start over at zero the next day. I was playing 10-play quarter Bonus Poker and it was taking me forever to get the points. I realized that I wasn't earning points two-point-something times faster than on a dollar machine ($12.50 per play versus $5 per play) because I was wasting so much time waiting for the discards to be replaced and for the credits to be awarded. I was able to speed up replacing the discards by hitting the Draw button a second time after holding my cards and I was able to speed up getting the credits by hitting the Draw button again after the machine started awarding credits.

You'll have to decide whether it's worth it to play dime multi-hand over quarter single-hand. Assuming the paytables are the same, you'll have less volatility (less severe bankroll swings) with triple-play dimes. Your risk per play is about the same on triple-play ($1.50 versus $1.25), but your risk is spread over three hands instead of being concentrated on one. If you were considering moving up to halves, moreover, you could play five-play dimes instead of single-hand halves and have the same risk per play but with less volatility. The key again is playing the same paytable on both machines.

Finally, the best paytable is the highest-paying paytable that has a strategy you can learn and that you enjoy playing. At one casino near me, the highest-paying paytable is Triple Double Bonus, which has a strategy that is nearly impossible to learn. At that casino I play one of the lower-paying paytables for which I know the strategy. Let's say another casino has Double Double Bonus and Jacks or Better with similar long-term paybacks. If you like the higher highs and lower lows of Double Double Bonus over the fairly even-keeled (some say boring) Jacks or Better, play the DDB.

Let us know what you decide to do.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 

Ask the Slot Expert: Does getting comps from a host at a casino affect the offers you get in the mail?

12 September 2018
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Ask the Slot Expert: A video poker machine with a 100-coin max bet

5 September 2018
Question: I also have often wondered how comps work. I pretty much only play at GVR [Green Valley Ranch], so that's where I have a host. I could be and am probably wrong, but I've come to the conclusion that the casino hosts must be on some sort of commission basis where they get paid based on how much one of their guests loses. ... (read more)
 

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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