A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I had to laugh when I read the question a few weeks ago from a reader who was comparing sanitizer stands in casinos now to how dirty our hands used to get when we used coins in slots.
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I was a resister, but I'm glad we used tickets now instead of coins. For a long time, I didn't like the ticket printers. I liked the noise of the coins in the tray. It gave me an extra rush when I was winning.
I also used to use dropping coins as a technique to slow down my play and not bet too much too fast. If I wanted to slow down, I'd drop coins for every play, then cash out and start dropping coins all over again. That's not practical now. Nobody wants to drop 40 pennies or whatever for a single spin.
But to get back on topic, no, you absolutely wouldn't want to do all that coin dropping now. Add the dirty money on top of the virus concerns, and I'd be reaching for a wash every other play.
A. It's been more than 20 years since the switch to ticket printers began, and I still hear from players who miss the clatter of coins in a tray.
Of course, we no longer have to hold up play, sit and wait for someone to clear hopper jams or fill the machines when they run out of coins. Should you run out of coins or token s, you no longer have to wait for the change cart to come around or have someone watch your machine while you go buy change. Casinos no longer need to have massive stores of change on hand.
It's fine to be nostalgic for the elements we miss from the days of coin-dropping machines. But overall, modern cash handling works better for both players and operators. Taking dirty coins out of the equation is a big plus -- especially in the days of COVID -- but there are far more reasons slots evolved in favor of ticket pays.
Q. Online, I found a 10s or Better video poker game. What does that do to the odds?
A. As you'd expect, winners make up a higher percentage of all hands when the pay table starts at a pair of 10s than with a pair of Jacks. Michael Shackelford's analysis at wizardofodds.com lists winners on 49.5 percent of hands with expert pay at 6-5 10s or Better. By comparison, 9-6 Jacks or Better brings winners on 45.5 percent of hands.
The extra winners have to be balanced in the pay table, so full house and flush returns are lower in 10s or Better than in Jacks or Better. Tens or Better pay tables max out at 6-for-1 on full houses and 5-for-1 on flushes.
Instead of the 25-for-1 returns on four of a kind in Jacks or Better, 6-5 Tens or Better typically returns only 20-for-1. That leaves a game that returns 97.56 percent with expert play, a couple of percent below the 99.54 on 9-6 JB.
Some online 6-5 Tens games pay 25-for-1 on quads. If you can find it, that's a better deal at 99.14 percent.
There are reduced-pay games, too. Even with 25-for-1 paybacks on four of a kind, returns drop to 98.10 percent on 6-4 Tens or Better and 97.99 percent on 5-5 games.