Watch the paytables It's not just Royals that offer nice wins.

Jul 22, 2008 7:02 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome | <EDITORíS NOTE: We selected one of Elliotís top columns with Mr. Frome enjoying a vacation week. Enjoy this reprise.

Youíre on your second vacation in Las Vegas. You stop at the first video poker machine and after 15 minutes, in disbelief, thereís a royal. Youíre up a cool $1,000. The trip has five more days left and thatís it. Done for the week.

How many of you could really quit?

Being a betting man, Iíd say at least 9 out of 10 would not stop gambling for the week. Most wouldnít even stop for the rest of the day.

The majority of the people who play in Las Vegas are there on vacation. Theyíd love to win gambling, but, quite frankly, winning is really not the top priority.

Playing is.

Places to gamble are more likely determined by where players are staying, or dining or the attractions available. Itís not by which casino has the best paytables or the best comp program.

Assuming our vacationing couple plays 600 hands per hour, gambles five hours a day for six days, each will play 18,000 hands. Statistically speaking, this is not a large sample for video poker. With 18,000 hands, any given machine will not necessarily demonstrate its overall payback to its player.

Given that royals should show about every 40,000 hands, if one were to show up, the machine will likely be positive and pay far above its calculated payback. So picking a machine should not be random.

Find a game you like. Many machines play multiple varieties of video poker. Target to play maximum coins to ensure full pay for a royal. Then search for the best pay table.

Over six-day, five-hour sessions, there is no guarantee the person playing the better paytable will win more than the one at the lesser paytable. However, the odds favor the better table.

If youíre going to sit down and play 30 hours of video poker on your vacation, maximize your chances of winning. In sports, there are elements like injuries, contract holdouts and personalities to deal with. In video poker, there is just pure and simple math at play.

The more hands you play, the more likely the machine will begin to approach its calculated payback.

In reality, itís unlikely that a royal will be hit and you will walk away at the end of the trip with more money if time is taken to read the paytables.