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Ask the Slot Expert: More on video poker dealing17 September 2014
Thanks for the kind words about my articles.
I've covered the dealing of video poker hands a few times. You'll get four hits if you search for "parallel" in the search box on any of my article pages.
You're right that I did not include serial dealing in my answer. Because the author of the question specifically mentioned parallel dealing in the question and because the question was about choosing 10 cards on the draw versus five, I left out serial drawing because it wasn't really relevant to the answer.
The definitive answer on video poker dealing is this: The electronic deck is being continuously shuffled. Five cards are chosen at random when you hit the Deal button. The electronic deck is still being shuffled while you make your hold/discard decisions. The cards needed to replace any discards are chosen when you hit the Deal button. Nevada gaming regulations require this method of dealing.
My note about sequential royals only counting from left to right in my 8/27/14 column was in reference to the calculations I was providing from the Wizard of Odds. The calculations assume that the sequential royal has to be left to right.
Perhaps you're familiar with a different machine. On his site the Wizard wrote, "A 'sequential royal' is only one way, from 10 to ace going from left to right. There is another game called 'Reversible Royals', which goes both ways, however that game I have yet to analyze." I remember seeing Reversible Royals in Atlantic City many, many years ago, but I haven't seen a sequential royal machine in years.
There's one sure way to determine whether sequential royals can go in both directions — check the paytable. Even if the answer is not on the glass, the paytable screens have to explicitly describe all the ways to win.
Finally, here's hoping you get better paytables. Unfortunately, I think the trend is distinctly down for video poker long-term paybacks.
The Washington State Gambling Commission's website (www.wsgc.wa.gov)used to have a very good description of how the machines in the state work, but the page was removed a year or so ago. In any case, you're correct. The result of a spin in Washington State is determined by a central computer. When you hit the Spin button, the central computer conceptually chooses a scratch-off ticket from the pool of electronic tickets remaining and uses its electronic quarter to scratch-off the coating to reveal your result. The central system then sends the results to your machine. When the central computer runs out of tickets in the pool, it unwraps a new packet of tickets and starts over.
According to a FAQ sheet on the Washington Recreational Gaming Association's website, "In principle, there is no difference between sitting at a slot-style machine and repeatedly buying scratch tickets at a convenience store counter...."
Why do tribes in Washington and other states have to forego relatively simple RNG-based machines (Class III) and go through the machinations of Class II, in which a central system imitates a bingo drawing or scrach-off ticket pool? Because politicians wrote the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Native American tribes can offer bingo and scratch-off tickets and other Class II games if those games are permitted by their states for any purpose. To offer Class III gaming, tribes must negotiate a compact with its state. According to the Wikipedia page for the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, restricting the tribes from offering Class III gaming was a compromise resulting from concerns about casino-style gaming. As if gambling on a bingo drawing is somehow purer than gambling on a Las Vegas-style slot machine.
Actually, the concern wasn't for purity of the players, but for crime. States were concerned that all the cash flowing back-and-forth in casino-style gambling would attract criminals, so they wanted stricter regulations on those games.
With one exception, it doesn't matter whether your 92 percent long-term payback machine has an RNG or gets its results from a central system. The long-term payback is the same with either method.
The one exception is video poker. Because a central system has already determined the result of your play, strategy is useless on a Class II video poker machine.
To answer your first question, regulations require that the RNG be completely free from any outside influence, so it can't be influenced by time. The RNG, moreover, has nothing to do with determine the payback percentage. The RNG just chooses results randomly from a pool of possible results. The pool of possible results created by the layout of the symbols on the reels determines the payback percentage of the machine.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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