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I will chance it avoiding sports

Apr 15, 2008 7:00 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome | Based on the results of the NCAA Tourney, you all know why I don’t rely on sports betting income to pay my bills. It just continues to prove why many games of chance are actually more predictable than sporting events.

In a game like video poker, we can predict with a great degree of certainty how a particular machine will do over the long run. You just can’t do that with sports teams. How many times has a team that was expected to win it all flopped badly, or vice versa?

One look at a video poker paytable and you can immediately know the payback of the game. The irony is that a slot machine is just as predictable with one very notable exception. Only the casino knows the payback, not the Player.

Video poker machines don’t work this way.

Casinos use a deck of cards as their basis. The law in most jurisdictions requires each card to be random so everything we want and need about the game is known. With slots, we have no way of knowing how many symbols there are on a reel. Plus, it is not required that any particular symbol show up in a random fashion.

The manufacturer can create any number of "possibilities" and assign the same losing, near-miss spin to as many as they would like. Thus, not only does the Player have no way of knowing the payback of a slot machine, the person can be teased with one near-miss after another. Two machines sitting side by side that appear identical could have two very different paybacks. This is impossible in video poker.

The goal for an Expert Player is to find machines that have the highest payback, which generally means finding machines that have the best paytables.

The highest commonly found paytable is referred to as the ‘Full-Pay’ version of video poker. Occasionally, you may find a paytable that pays even higher for that version, but these machines will be rather rare. It has become harder to find ‘Full-Pay’ versions of some games so they may not be so common anymore.

 These payouts assume that the Player is betting maximum coins (usually 5). This paytable has a strong payback of 99.5 percent. It is also sometimes referred to as 9-6 paytable because of the payout for the Full House and Flush which are the first (usually) to be lowered to make lower paybacks.

 When playing jacks or better, this is the paytable you want to seek out. Would you bet on your team at one casino that pays you $9 for every $11 wagered when another one will give you the same points but pay you $10 for every $11?

You wouldn’t even consider going for the $9 win. Why do the same when playing video poker? You want to find the best paytables so you have the best chances of winning the most amount of money.

Next week: Other games and their full-pay paytables.