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Best of Mark Pilarski
Video poker with a shocking twist10 August 2012
Shockwave Poker, Scooter, is a new, one-off version of standard video poker. It is the same five-card draw, but the difference in this game comes from the "shockwave" mode.
Shockwave Poker begins like any other modified video poker game. Your initial hand is dealt, and you have to decide which cards to hold. Your discards are replaced, and the final hand is totaled against the payout table.
Paytables vary from casino to casino, and as with standard video poker, payouts begin with Jacks or Better. Note though, with Shockwave Poker, the payout for Two Pairs, normally 2-1, is reduced to even money. You will also find the payouts for full houses and flushes to be weaker. These changes are made to compensate for the bonus provided in the Shockwave mode.
A player enters the Shockwave mode whenever his final hand is a four-of-a-kind. On the next hand, the Shockwave mode begins and lasts for 10 hands, or until the player gets another four-of-a-kind, whichever materializes first.
During the Shockwave mode, you should notice a counter displayed on the screen until the Shockwave mode terminates. If the player gets a second four-of-a-kind hand in the Shockwave mode, the pay rate chugs up to bonus level. At the casino closest to me, the bonus rate of a nickel machine, 10 credits max, is an 8,000 credit payout, otherwise, $400 for a 50-cent bet.
The strategy for Shockwave is to be extremely aggressive in Shockwave mode, requiring that you keep any pair, all three-of-a-kinds, even to the point of busting up a full house.
I have, Scooter, fooled around some with Shockwave, and conversed with numerous players on their likes and dislikes of the game. The biggest complaint I am hearing is that none has ever hit quads in the 10 hands allotted in the shockwave mode.
Likewise for Yours Truly, although collectively our Shockwave Poker gambling timeline is perhaps limited. I’ve been dealt trips multiple times in shockwave mode, begrudgingly busted up a couple of full houses, but none of those hands has ever worked out to my benefit. Moreover, plenty of players have told me they’ve had some quads hit on hands 11-15 after the initial quad, but like me, are awaiting their first shockwave four-of-a-kind.
Without doing an extensive cost-benefit analysis where I would compare multiple bonus payouts versus paytables, it is hard to pinpoint the exact house edge, but like most bonus games that dangle a carrot, they tend not to increase a return to the player. Besides, Scooter, two four-of-a-kind outcomes within 10 hands is one rare bird. I seriously cannot remember the last time I have done it. Can you?
Dear Mark: How much value is there when a casino allows you to re-split aces? One casino where I play allows it, one does not. Also, what game in blackjack is best for the player? Roger M.
Re-splitting aces, Roger, is definitely a value-added rule for the player. In most casinos, when you split a pair of aces, you are allowed just one additional card for each ace. If you draw an ace on aces that were split, you now have the arduous task of beating the dealer with a pat 12. When a casino allows you to split that ace again, you gain 0.08 percent against the house edge.
Anytime you can find a single-deck pitch game that pays 3 to 2 for blackjacks, jump all over it.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Horse racing is animated roulette." -- Roger Kahn
Best of Mark Pilarski