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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask The Slot Expert

21 September 2000

Dear John,

In video poker, what does "playing a hand perfectly" mean? For example, if my opening hand is: A(c) K(c) Q(c) Q(s) Q(h), how do I play it perfectly?

Thank you,
Ray

Dear Ray:

Playing a video poker hand perfectly means to hold the combination of cards with the highest expected value. The expected value is a statistical average that tells you how much something will be worth in the long run. The expected value takes into account both the value of the various hands your starting hand can draw to and the probability that you will draw to that hand. The only way you can achieve the maximum payback possible from a video poker machine is to always hold the cards with the highest expected value.

In your example, the choice is between a 3-card royal flush and a three-of-a-kind. Let's assume the paytable is 9/6 Jacks or Better. We look at all the possible ending hands for each choice, add up the total amount of money we can win on those hands, and divide by the number of hands. This calculation gives us the expected value for that combination. According to Bob Dancer's WinPoker program, this 3-card royal is worth 6.7438 and the three-of-a-kind is worth 21.5125. It's not even close; hold the three-of-a-kind.

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