A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I play mainly Double Double Bonus Poker. The dollar games near me have the 9-6 pay table, so that’s what I play.
There’s one strategy point I wanted to bring up. When I practice with software that tells me when I’m making a mistake, it says that with a full house that includes three Aces, I should hold the Aces and throw away the other two cards. Any other full house, it says I should keep the full house.
That’s because of the bigger payoffs on four Aces, I suppose, but how close a call is it? How much is it really costing me if I keep the full house and the guaranteed $45 payoff instead of risk dropping to three of a kind and $15.
A. As you say, keeping all five cards in a full house locks you into a $45 payoff for a five-coin bet on a dollar machine. Drawing no cards, you can’t improve the hand, but you won’t have to settle for less, either.
If you hold three Aces and discard the pair, your average return in 9-6 Double Double Bonus is $63.58 on a dollar machine.
That’s not a close call. I’d break up an Aces-high full house every time in this game. However, there are risks.
When you discard two cards, there are 1,081 possible draws. They include 968 draws in which you will not improve on three of a kind. So if you break up the full house, you will drop from a $45 guarantee to a $15 return 89.5 percent of the time.
You need to be mentally prepared for that if you’re going to take the risk that leads to big rewards.
Of the other 113 draws, 67 bring you back to a full house to match your original $45 return. The other 46 draws bring a fourth Ace. Twelve of those also bring a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card for a $2,000 bonanza. The other 34 are four Aces without the kicker, still a nice prize at $800.
You’re not faced with the choice all that often. There are 2.598,960 possible initial five-card hands in which card order doesn’t matter. Of those, 288 are full houses that include three Aces. So you’ll start with an Aces-up full house an average of once per 9,024 hands.
Q. I’ve been playing one of those free slot apps and having fun, but something doesn’t seem quite right. Sometimes they’ll give challenges, like get three big wins in the next 120 hands. If you do, you get bonus credits.
I’m not sure what a big win is. Something like at least eight times your bet until you get to 12 times your bet. At 12 times, it becomes a mega win instead. The mega wins don’t count toward a big wins challenge.
There’s something that doesn’t feel right if you lose the challenge because a win was too big.
A. Extras on slot apps such as the one you describe are designed to be entertaining, add to the fun and keep you interested. The operators are hoping you’ll have so much fun playing their games that you’ll buy credits on top of the giveaways. That’s how the apps make money for their owners.
In a wagering environment, I’d agree that the challenge you mention is badly designed. A player should never be left feeling bad about a bigger win. Even on an app, it seems like something could be designed better, but maybe isn’t as serious a breach as it would be with money on the line.