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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Multiple ways of winning, and losing

24 January 2005

Dear Mark,
What is the advantage/disadvantage of playing the multiple handed video poker machines? As more hands are played off one original hand, are the paybacks more or less in the favor of the player? Nadle

Take the popular Video Poker; multiply it by 100, and what do you get? Multi-Hand Video Poker. The math is easy so far, right?

Those good folks who have played it know the appeal of this game, especially when dealt a pat full house, or perhaps a hand one card shy of a royal flush. The first time I played a multi-hand machine I got a 10, J, Q, K, and nine of spades on a 50-hand machine. When I discarded the nine, I got FIVE, count-em, FIVE royal flushes, more than I've had in my entire lifetime before or since. Regrettably, I had been day-dreaming at the time, and it had just been my scampish left hand sneaking pennies into the machine at a penny a hand, so the total payout for my wondrous five royals didn't even pay for my prime rib buffet, a funerary celebration of my video poker triumph.

Multi-Hand Video Poker is played just like conventional video poker, except you can play "up to" 100 hands at once. You begin by choosing the number of hands you wish to play by clicking one of the numbers across the bottom of the video poker screen: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100.

Next, you place a bet — the machine being multi-denominational, it accepts bets ranging from pennies to $1 units — and click the Deal button. If you decide to play the maximum coin amount, just click Bet Max for five credits for every hand you choose to play. After you click Deal, you are presented with five cards. On the screen, each hand you are playing (from the 1st to the 100th) will contain these same five cards. Just as in conventional video poker, you choose your keepers. All of the favorable cards you choose to hold from the initial hand are copied to each remaining hand played. When you're ready to draw new cards, click the Deal button. For each hand you play, a random set of replacement cards is drawn for each successive hand.
To show 100 hands on a video screen, each hand has to be teensy-weensy in size, making it all but impossible for anyone to keep track of what's going on as 100 hands simultaneously play out at high speed, so forget about trying to watch each individual draw. The end result is that the computer driving the game will highlight all your winners, displaying the amount returned, and the total accumulated credits. In addition, at the bottom of each winning hand, a color-coded bar appears, indicating the type of hand and coins won. Also, in the bottom left or right corner of the screen, a corresponding chart appears, telling how many of each type of winning hands the player has hit.

The odds for multi-hand video poker are the same as for the single-hand version. Playing each hand multiple times magnifies its strength or weakness, but overall, the odds don't change. Therefore, strategies for optimizing your return at the single-hand versions carry over to the multiple-hand versions, so long as you shop for the best pay tables.

So, is there a downside to Multi-Hand Video Poker? You betcha!

Speed kills in a casino, meaning, the more hands you play per hour, the more you subject your gambling funds to the house edge. Though playing one hand of video poker, you are getting 100 different results on the draw, each subject to a built-in casino advantage. And although multi-hand video poker can increase your earning potential on good hands, it also magnifies your losing potential on bad hands, evaporating your bankroll very quickly. If you are playing 5-coin single-handed video poker at a quarter a throw and are dealt "junk," all you have at stake is $1.25. With multi-hand play you would have much more invested in those same awful cards. Even if you are betting pennies, the maximum coins you will risk at 100 hands is $5 per play, which is quadruple the maximum on single-hand quarter games. Make it nickels, and you are on the hook for $25 per hand. It ain't cheap, is it? Only you, Nadie, know if Multi-Hand Video Poker is within your means.

Gambling quote of the week: "A man needs a motive to play poker. For me it's money." poker legend Doyle Brunson

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Best of Mark Pilarski
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.
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.