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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask The Slot Expert

9 June 2000

Dear John,

My wife plays video poker, and I have been told that it does not make any difference what cards you hold, that if the machine is ready to pay, it will pay no matter what action you take.

Does this mean that if I keep throwing away other than winning hands, I will still get whatever the machine is ready to pay? I have never tried this, but have been tempted.

Thanks,
William

Dear William,

It absolutely does make a difference which cards you hold when you play video poker. The program running a video poker machine uses the output from the Random Number Generator (RNG) to choose cards at random for each game. It doesn't choose outcomes, it chooses cards.

Here's how you can test this fact: Let's assume the program does choose an outcome and it deals you a paying hand, say, a pair of jacks. Draw five new cards. If the program did choose outcomes and had decided that this hand should be a pair of jacks, a pair of jacks will be in your five new cards every time. Try it. You will get the other pair of jacks every once in a while because those two cards are still available to be drawn from the deck, but you won't get them every time.

Machines are never ready to pay. The program in the machine may choose all 10 cards that could be used in one hand at once, or it may choose five cards for your initial hand and then go back to the RNG to choose cards to replace the cards your discarded. The key, though, is the program chooses cards not outcomes. Always play as close to the mathematically perfect strategy as you can and hold the combination of cards with the highest expected value in each hand.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos!
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@home.com.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
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