No reverence for reversible royals

Mar 5, 2002 2:19 AM

Machines with the sequential royal flush bonus are frustrating to me. It’s not because of the type games we must play in order to have a chance at the bonus, but because of the fact that it is so darn hard to hit one. Even far more difficult than seeing four wild deuces with a joker, for many it is at best a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

I actually hit one about nine years ago in Laughlin, but the machine did not offer the most common 50,000-coin bonus ”” although the casino had a somewhat smaller promotion going on at the time for such a hit. If I ever do see another, I figure it will be a rare event indeed.

But how often can the regular player expect to see one of these gems? Well, playing mathematically perfect ”” a feat which no one comes to within even 5 percent of accomplishing even though they’ll swear beyond any possible doubt they do ”” a computer might expect to see one in either direction at the rate of about once every 60 royals. What does that say? I have to agree with some of the current gurus on this: it means there’s really no reason to try to hit one or even expect to hit one. Sit back and play. If it’s going to appear, it will appear. If not, you need not be concerned. And if you happen to be playing at a machine or casino that offers a bonus for hitting one, you’ve been more than lucky.

Now let’s look at why some say it isn’t a wise play to put your money into one of these sequential bonus machines. Even with the 50,000-coin bonus, we’re told that only adds .4 percent to the optimal play payout expectancy over an infinite amount of time. Combined with the probable reduced full house, flush or both, it’s enough to cause a nervous outbreak of the hives for some of the experts. But let’s think about that for a moment. Some people hit them, don’t they? Ever see their pictures plastered all over the walls or screens at some casinos? If players A or B try and fail, what’s to say it won’t be you ”” player C ”” that will hit the jackpot?

If you had worried about the overall payout percentage from the pay table, you just might end up like some of the others who think they’re too smart to play the game, and be crying in your beer at the local loser’s lounge after you’ve watched someone else being paid the big bucks. It’s these people who’ll be paying their electric and grocery bills in cash tomorrow morning while you’re in the group that has to shuffle the bills around yet again. Come on, people. The experts have taken the fun out of just about every other facet of the game for you already, haven’t they? If you’re going to lose like they do, why not do it on your own terms and have fun to boot?

One other point has me confused about playing for a sequential royal. Late last year, I spent a few days at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. At one of their bars, they have a suite of dollar 7/5 Bonus Poker machines with a progressive sequential royal payout. It was at over $230,000 when I left, but I’ve heard that it hit at nearly $250,000. Hmmm ”¦ that’s nearly a full 2 percent positive expectation additive! Even at 7/5, that’s got to be an overall payout of at least 101 percent, but why were most seats empty most of the time? Where were all the so-called advantage players?

Come to think of it, that brings up another curious question. When one of these progressives gets up to that point or even higher, will we ever see those who play strictly by the math trying to hit the special royal? Hey, if the payout calculates out to 102.4 percent, why can’t we expect to see them there? So the royal is hard to hit? Big deal. What if it was a million dollars? It’s an “advantage” machine, isn’t it? Here’s a game loaded with positive EV, and if someone you know spots you playing it you can toot your horn by saying “I only play positive games Âí­”” here’s proof!”

Then think of all those lovely points piling up on your slot club card so you can go home and say “ I had the most delicious, perfectly cooked $2,700 lobster dinner I’ve ever had.” Don’t laugh. It happens every day. Why do you think you get all those pulsating offers in the mail? Now guess who’s REALLY giving away things for free.