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Best of John Robison
Ask The Slot Expert21 September 2000
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!
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
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Best of John Robison