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Poker profits - 3 views

7 October 2005

Dear Mark,
I don't play a lot of poker, but at the family games a controversy over who has the winning full house hand has been destroying these once peaceful fun games. For example, there are two full houses, one has three eights and two aces, the other has three kings and a pair of threes. My opinion is that the aces prevail notwithstanding that there are trip kings and only two aces. I have looked at poker references but these don't answer the question. Please help us keep peace in the family. Angelo T.

A full house (also called a full boat) is poker hand consisting of three of one rank plus two of another. As to hand strength, a full house ranks above a flush and below a four-of-a-kind. A full house is often identified by the contained three-of-a-kind. For example, one hand that you described, three kings and two 3s is often known as kings full, and sometimes more specifically as kings full of 3s. Seeing that a full house is stated that way, the superior three-of-a-kind (triplets, tricon, or trio) hand wins, even if someone is holding a pair of bullets.

May peace now reign at Angelo's table.

Dear Mark,
I have a brother-in-law who recently started playing in our weekly home game. One of our rules is that rather than each player anteing, the dealer antes up for everyone. When it came to my brother-in-law he passed the deal so he didn't have to ante. He believes since he is passing the deal, and choice of game, he is at a disadvantage so he doesn't need to ante when it's his turn. I don't believe he can do that, but he claims he can. Please respond quickly as I will present your answer at our next poker night. Jeff P.

What you are describing, Jeff, is called "pass the deal," whereby players deal for themselves as opposed to something you would see in a poker room, where the game is dealt by a house dealer. Ordinarily, a player can refuse to deal, opting instead to pass the deck to the next player on the left. But at your home game you noted that rather than each player anteing each hand, a dealer antes for all. With the game played this way, your cheapskate (you don't mind, do you?) brother-in-law is not permitted to pass the deal.

Dear Mark,
In last weeks column you stated; "Skilled players can cut the house advantage to near zero, or, dare I say it, swing the odds in their favor when they play perfect basic strategy on select video poker machines." Any chance you can share which machines those are? Max F.

Payouts on video poker machines are determined by; 1) the pay schedule and, just as importantly, 2) how you select discards, since selecting the wrong cards to deep-six will reduce your overall payout. Even if I clue you in to the best-of-the-best machines to play, it won't help you to swing the odds in your favor unless you learn how to play each hand correctly.

Below are three "full pay" machines that, if played with perfect basic strategy and maximum coins per hand, will return over 100%, with but (there's always a "but") one caveat. There is a gambling chance you won't even find these machines in your gaming jurisdiction, especially if there are only a few casinos in pursuit of your hard-earned dollars.

1) 7/5 Jokers Wild: 5-of-a-kind pays 1,000, quads pays 100: Return 100.64%.
2) 9/5 Deuces Wild: Return 100.76%.
3) 9/6 Double Double Jackpot Poker: two pair pays 1 coin: Return 100.35%.

To decode, Max, the first two numbers reflect the payouts for a full house and a flush with a single coin inserted. Example: a 7/5 Jokers Wild machine would pay 7 coins for a full house and 5 coins for a flush on a one-coin bet.

Once more, to get those types of percentage returns, you'll need to find these full-pay schedules, play the maximum coin amount, and use perfect strategy when playing them. I never said it was going to be easy.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Most dealers I knew secretly rooted for the players." John Soares, "Loaded Dice"

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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.