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Best of Mark Pilarski
Deal me in: That sweet edge and how to find it2 May 2008
Dear Mark: Is there any point when the player actually has an edge in video poker over the house? Vic D.
There is, Vic, but you'll need to master this combination. Play on a full-pay machine, use an optimal playing strategy against that select machine, play progressives over a certain amount, and take full advantage of the goodies casinos give away.
Full-pay machines are machines that pay out more for certain winning hands than do other comparable ones. For instance, a full pay Jacks or Better machine pays (per coin inserted) 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush. This payout is better than what you get from a machine that pays only 8 coins for a full house and 5 coins for a flush, and is far superior to some pay tables that you'll find out there today that pay only 6 coins for a full house and 5 coins for a flush.
You'll also need to learn an optimal playing strategy for the type of machine that you are playing on. What I mean by optimal playing strategy is that you must learn which cards to hold and which ones to discard.
A marriage of both, Vic, playing on full pay machines and using an optimal playing strategy, will get you pretty close to you that edge that you're looking for in video poker.
Then pile on the advantage you take of casino comps. For example, a video poker player playing a 9/6 machine and using optimal strategy can expect a 99.5% return. By getting cash back for your play by using your players' club card, it's very possible for the overall return to exceed 100%.
One other possibility is playing on a progressive machine where the jackpot exceeds a certain amount, which creates the opportunity -- that is, if you hit the jackpot -- to have a payback that is temporarily over 100%.
For example, on a one-dollar Jacks or Better 8/5 progressive machine, the break-even point would be a jackpot of $8,800. When the jackpot exceeds that amount, there's your edge. On a quarter Jacks or Better 8/5 progressive machine, look for a jackpot over $2,200. Again, factored in, is your chance of hitting the royal.
Dear Mark: Every time I get ahead on a craps game, I end up giving it all back. It's tough for me to walk away from a hot game. I get all caught up in the frenzy of the game, and then all of a sudden, it's all gone. Help! Kenny J.
Fortunes in craps are won when the dice are hot, lost when they go cold. You just keep forgetting to leave when the dice begin to chill.
Besides making the wisest bets on the layout, successful gamblers buck this memory loss by setting loss limits and win goals. You can only end your playing session a winner by walking when ahead. Sticking around when your karma is fishtailing, as you seem to do, is what gets me this e-mail.
From this moment forward, Kenny, pledge to set loss limits and win goals for yourself. For example, if you bought in for $200 and your win goal is doubling your buy-in, say adieu to the table when you hit it. Or, if you bought in for $200, and the gambling gods have allowed you to win $500, set aside the $200 buy-in, plus your $200 profit, and play with the remain $100. When it's gone, Kenny's gone.
Oh, one more thing. You are making the best bets (pass line, odds, placing the 6 and 8) on the layout, right? Oh … you didn't know there'd be a quiz?
Gambling Wisdom of the Week:Piker (PY-kur) noun: A stingy person, a cautious gambler, or one who does things in a small way. --Wordsmith.com
Best of Mark Pilarski