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Deal Me In: Trading aces

5 August 2011

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Anytime you play a machine that rewards quads, like for instance, four Aces, is the machine programmed to deal fewer four-ace hands? Larry F.

Many video poker machines, Larry, like Double Bonus Poker and Super Aces, have larger payouts for specific big hands, such as four Aces. To compensate for giving you this bonus, the casino needs to take a little something away, and that means fewer payouts for some smaller hands. There is no need for the casino wizards to rig a machine so you’ll see fewer Aces, since they can adjust the pay table with lower paybacks on hands such as full houses, flushes and two pairs.

Truth be told, all cards are dealt randomly, but, Larry, you should actually be getting more concluding hands containing four Aces than you would otherwise get on games without four-Ace jackpots. Why? Because you should be adjusting your strategy and playing for those Aces.

For example, suppose you have two pair, Aces and eights. In a game like Super Aces, you would keep the Aces and toss the eights aside. If you had a full house with three Aces and two eights, again, you would break up the full house and hold just the three Aces. Had you been playing Jacks or Better, you would play each of these hands differently.

When playing a game that rewards Aces, and playing each hand correctly, you should see those quad Aces more often.

Dear Mark: Just for the record: When I win my $300 million Powerball lottery jackpot, I plan on buying a casino and bringing back the deals we used to get in the good old days. Butch B.
I’m with you, Butch. I say yes to single deck blackjack, 9/6 video poker machines, craps with 100X odds, single zero roulette and those mouthwatering $3.49 prime rib buffets. The hitch, Butch, is that the odds of Yours Truly showing up at Butch’s Gambling Emporium are one in 195,249,054.

Dear Mark: You state that taking Free Odds on a Crap game is one of the best bets the casino offers. By doing so, how much will it improve my chances of winning? Gabe L.

As for immediately improving your “chances of winning,” actually, Gabe, none. As for Free Odds lowering the house edge and winning more moolah, well, that’s a different story.

Suppose, Gabe, you made a $10 Pass Line bet and the point has been made. By making a Free Odds wager, it won't instantly increase your chances of winning that singular event, because the odds of winning your Pass Line bet would remain the same whether you made a Free Odds bet or not.
The way you make the Free Odds bet an excellent wager is by putting money on them that you were going to bet anyway. For example, instead of betting the $10 on the Pass Line and taking no odds, you can lower the overall house edge considerably by betting $2 on the Pass Line and $10 on the Odds (5x table). By taking odds, Gabe, your expected loss is reduced, which improves your chances of winning some scratch..

Whatever amount you want to bet per round, Gabe, your goal should be to get as much money on Free Odds as possible, and as little as possible on the Pass Line.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Having an ATM in casino is like having a lap-dancer at a Hell’s Angels convention.” —McAvoy Layne, a Mark Twain impressionist
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.