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Best of John Robison

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High payback does not mean you will win

13 September 2008

Hi John,

This is in regards to your video poker paybacks articles lately.

Maybe I'm just sitting down at the right machines at the right times, but this year has been an extremely "good" year for some reason regarding some nice paybacks we received. I "do" know the odds of sitting down at the lower paying percentage machines vs. the 9/6 machines, but as everyone has noted those days of the 9/6 machines are almost gone. In fact I was shocked that Wynn's bar has 9/6 machines but you have to pay for all your drinks.

OK so my husband and I started playing some of the "lower" percentage machines 8/5. Maybe you call it a "fools mans game" but this year between the two of us we have hit over 12 royals, the latest last week for $4,000. We are not high rollers usually $.25/$.50 players but when the cards keep coming to you, full houses/quads/flushes we up our ante to $1/$2 max hits and we are bringing home money.

I could sit down at a 9/6 game and play perfect strategy and get nothing in return for my money yet turn around and play the lower percentage machines and get continuous hits, which makes me believe that even though you have a 9/6 machine doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win big. I won't stay on a low percentage machine if it's not paying me but what is wrong with playing one when you're getting the money back? We are not daily players either, we are the average persons that go out maybe twice a month to the local casinos that are within 1 to 2 hour driving distance for a night of playing.

Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Your experiences illustrate an important point: Video poker payback percentages are long-term numbers. Your playing sessions may have very different results.

Many video pokers have experienced the same thing you have. They lose money playing the high-payback machines, but win money on the lower-payback machines. If you were to play millions of hands on these machines, your bankroll would know the difference between them. But video poker is so volatile, a few hundred hands on 8/5 Jacks can many times be more profitable than a few hundred on 9/6 Jacks. And consider this: If you never hit a full house or a flush during your session, it didn't matter whether you were playing 9/6 Jacks or 8/5 Jacks.

You made a great statement, which I will repeat and make stronger:

Playing a video poker machine with a high long-term payback doesn't mean you will win every session.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


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

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