Also, how do you go about learning expert play? How didJohn Grochowski is the author of six gaming books including the "Answer Book" series -- The Casino Answer Book, The Video Poker Answer Book, The Craps Answer Book and a revised edition of The Slot Machine Answer Book. His articles cover blackjack, slots and video poker strategy as well as casino etiquette and getting the most bang for your buck in Vegas. John's website is www.casinoanswerman.com you learn?
Some of that is because not all players bet maximum coins. In video poker, that's a particularly costly mistake. In 9-6 Jacks or Better, where full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes pay 6-for-1, experts can expect to get back 99.5 percent of their wagers in the long run. But a player who bets only one, two, three or four coins on a five-coin max game gets back only 98.4 percent, even if he makes all the right holds.
That's because of the jump in the royal flush jackpot when you bet the fifth coin. Royals typically pay 250 coins if you bet one coin, 500 for two, 750 for three and 1,000 for four. But they jump to a 4,000-coin bonanza with five coins wagered. We get about 2 percent of our overall payback on royals, so when we settle for short payoffs by not betting that fifth coin, it pads the casino's bankroll.
Some video poker strategies are not intuitive, and some change from game to game and pay table to pay table. What cards should you hold if you're dealt Ace, 3 and 7 of clubs, Jack of spades and King of hearts? Answers: If you're playing 9-6 Jacks or Better, hold King-Jack; if you're playing 10-7 Double Bonus, hold the three clubs, Ace-3-7, and if you're playing 8-5 Super Aces, hold just the Ace.
Every video poker game has its own quirks and strategies, and I strongly suggest you pick out the games you'd like to play in the casinos you visit, and practice strategies for those games?
How do you do practice? It's a lot easier than when I first learned. There are a wealth of books, strategy cards and computer programs ready to help. One of the latest and greatest among the books is Linda Boyd's "Video Poker Edge" ($17.95, Square One Publishers), which takes you from the basics of how to play right through strategy, including detachable strategy cards. On the software side, Bob Dancer Presents Win Poker and Frugal Video Poker both allow you to change games and change pay tables to match those you see in the casino, and they'll warn you when you make a mistake.
When I first learned to play, I didn't have a computer, much less software to drill me. The late Lenny Frome had published some of the first strategy sheets, and I dealt myself countless hands with a deck of cards, trying to match my strategies to those on the sheet. It improved my play immensely, but it was A LOT slower than practicing on the computer. I'm still learning, adjusting to new games and refreshing on the old, but today I use the software for strategy drills.
I don't think I've noticed anyone else doing this, and it seems like such an obvious thing that if it worked, someone would have thought of it before now. So tell me, what's the catch?
The exception is a pair of sixes --- 12. When the shooter rolls a 12 on the comeout, it's craps. The pass line player loses. But what happens on the don't pass side? It's just a push. The don't bettor gets his money back, but there are no winnings to cancel out the loss on the pass side.
That leaves a system where there is never a net win, because every win is canceled out by a corresponding loss, but there IS a net loss, whenever the shooter rolls a 12 on the comeout.
The players will get their comps all right, but at the cost of playing a system in which losses are not only possible, they're certain. If anyone ever suggests you try to pull one over on the casino by betting opposites and playing for comps, forget it. It doesn't work.
Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.
ReadyBetGo! is an independent gambling news and information service. If you plan to play in casinos, ensure
that you are not breaking any local laws. It's up to you to know the legality of your actions when you gamble.