Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Video Poker Hand Frequency

Video Poker can be one of the best games to play in the casino provided you pick the ones with the best pay table. Games that have the highest pay tables are referred to as “full pay machines.” Some games found in Las Vegas even have a payback of over 100 percent when played correctly but these are not usually found in other parts of the country.

Sometimes talk about full pay and 100% pay back video poker machines can be a little misleading. It’s very important for all players and especially for the recreational or occasional player to be aware of a couple factors contributing to the overall pay back of a video poker game. You have to consider the frequency in which you will make a certain hand and the amount that each hand contributes to the overall payback of the machine.

The payback percentage is based on the long term average and it includes hitting a royal flush.

In order to get a realistic idea of you chance of a winning session you must have a proper perspective of the frequency of drawing certain hands and the percentage they contribute to the total return of the game. Take a look at the chart for the full pay 9/6 Jacks or Better game listed below. The return for this game over the long run is 99.5 percent.

The return percentage is based on the 4,000 coins for the Royal Flush with maximum coins played. Remember the frequency is the mathematical probability of occurrences. Hands will occur more or less frequently but will even out in the long run. I have rounded off the numbers for the sake of simplicity. Looking at the chart you will see that a Royal Flush will occur about once in every 40,000 hands and it contributes 1.98 percent to the overall return on the game. A Full House will occur about every 86 hands and it contributes 10.36 percent to the return.

Professional players can play between 600 – 1,000 hands per hour. The average person probably plays at a speed of around 300 or 400 hands per hour. At 400 hands per hour it will take you about 100 hours to play 40,000 hands. If you play four hours a day it will take you 25 days. For the occasional visitor to the casino, it could take quite a few trips to the casino before you play the 40,000 hands.

The Cost
Playing maximum coins on a quarter machine will cost you $1.25 per hand. To play 40,000 hands you will be putting $50,000 though the machine. If you play perfect strategy and hit the Royal in 40,000 hands you will achieve the 99.5% return. Your cost for playing the hands will be $50,000 x .05% or $250. By using your player’s card you can recoup some of this cost in comps. Some of the casinos offer cash back for your play which will loser your cost. The comps and cashback can overcome the cost of playing.

But what if you don’t hit a royal flush after 40,000 hands? Remember a royal is responsible for 1.98 percent of the over all return of the game. You add that to the .05 percent of the base game and find that it will cost you 2.48% x $50,000 or $1,240 to play 40,000 hands.

In all honesty the recreational or occasional player should be aware that it could take quite a long time to reach the theoretical return. Learning and playing the correct strategy WILL help improve your chances of stretching you bankroll between Royal Flushes. In the long run the math will even out but not all of you will get to play that many hands. In the short run anything can happen. You could hit back to back Royal Flushes or you could go months or years with out hitting one. The key for the occasional player will be the frequency of the 4 of-a-kind (1 in 423) and Full Houses (1 in 86). If the frequency is above the norm you will more than likely have a winning session if you don’t hit your fair share you will probably lose.

Video Poker is still better than playing slot machines. In most cases the overall return is much better. Video Poker players enjoy the skill involved in playing the game. But if you are only an occasional player you must approach Video Poker as you would any other casino game. Only play with money you can afford to lose. Play to the best of your ability using proper strategy. Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst and try to have a little fun.

Jacks of Better Hand Frequency

Hand Payout Maximum Coin Occurs Every Return %
Royal Flush 250 4,000 40,390 1.98
Straight Flush 50 250 9,148 0.55
4 of-a-kind 25 125 423 5.91
Full House 9 45 86 10.36
Flush 6 30 90 6.61
Straight 4 20 89 4.49
3 of-a-kind 3 15 13.4 22.33
2 Pair 2 10 7.7 25.86
Jacks 1 5 21.4 21.46
Nothing 0 0 1.83 0


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