Cash in on more royals in video poker!

Oct 20, 2009 5:08 PM
Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome |

I’ve spent the last few weeks discussing the hand at the bottom of the strategy table – hands that don’t have any cards worth holding.

This week, I thought I’d head to the top of the table and talk about the Royal Flush. Of course, I’m dreaming a bit because the hand at the top of the strategy table is actually the DEALT Royal Flush, which happens only once in almost 650,000 hands.

I’m really going to talk about the Royal Flush as a final hand, because I don’t care if it is dealt to me or if I have to draw to it.

From our computer analyses, we know that a Royal Flush will occur when using expert strategy and assuming a full-pay jacks or better machine at max-coin about every 40,000 hands. We assume that the average player can play about 600 hands per hour.

So, this should translate into one Royal Flush every 66-67 hours of play. Of course, this is a long term average. We also know that an event that should occur every 40,000 hands might reasonably occur twice in 5-10 thousand hands or might not occur for 100,000 hands or more. Thus, it is very possible (and not all that unlikely) that you might not hit a Royal in nearly 200 hours of play!

I’m sure that there are many of you reading this who are fairly certain you have played far more hours than this and still have not hit a Royal. I have two thoughts on this matter. The first is that are you really sure it has been this long or does it just SEEM like this long? Remember, 200 hours of play is a long time. If you play for 5-6 hours a day, then it would still take 30-40 days of play to hit this limit. If you’re a casual Player this might mean several years of vacations in Las Vegas before you reach this total!

My second thought on the subject is the one that I think explains it all the more. In order to have the average be 40,000 hands, it requires that you use Expert Strategy. While some of you have mastered or nearly mastered it, I’m guessing many of you haven’t even tried to and some of you who have tried to haven’t actually accomplished it yet.

As a result, you’re playing many hands incorrectly, especially those that lead to Royal Flushes. Thus, you may find that the average for YOUR strategy is really more like 60,000 hands, and we may find that it is possible for nearly 200,000 hands to go by before you will hit a Royal.

When we look at the distribution of Royals occurring, we find that about 6% of them occur on the deal. I’m guessing no one plays these wrong. About 30% of our Royals occur from getting dealt a 4-Card Royal, and again, I’m guessing no one is playing these wrong.

The most common way to wind up with a Royal is to start with a 3-Card Royal, which accounts for just over 40% of our Royals. Here is where some of the problems begin. While some of you may overplay this hand (holding a 3-Card Royal over a High Pair which will make the average come down), many of you may be choosing to hold 4-card Straights and 4-card Flushes over some 3-Card Royals, which will eliminate your chances of hitting a Royal in these situations.

Hitting a Royal from a 2-Card Royal accounts for 19% of our Royals, and I’m VERY certain these are frequently played wrong. Many people don’t realize that you’re better off holding 2-Card Royals over 3 High Cards and even some 4-Card Inside Straights. When you hold these lower-ranked hands, you take away any chance of hitting the Royal, raising the number of average hands between Royals.

Hitting a Royal from 1 High Card or from a Razgu (see, I snuck them in again!) account for a little less than 5% of our Royals, but these hands are probably the most misplayed of them all. If you decide to hold 3-Card Straights and 3-Card Flushes, not only will you eat away at your bankroll, you’ll lengthen considerably the amount of time between Royals.

So much of being successful at video poker relies on hitting your fair share of Royals. You don’t need to help the casinos out by reducing the definition of ‘fair share’ and playing these hands incorrectly.

Watch every Tuesday for a brand new Winning Strategies article.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Elliot Frome