A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I just wanted to share my experience of the last year as a slot player in New Jersey. Like everyone else, I’ve been staying home more and hardly went to casinos at all, but I’ve been having a good time playing online.
One thing I really like is that I can choose from dozens of games without leaving my recliner chair. In a casino, if I want to change games I need to walk around and find a game I like where no one is already playing. Online, I can pick any game I like without worrying about whether it’s occupied.
I miss going to casinos, being with other people. For some reason, my wife won’t play cocktail server. But I do like being able to change to any game I like whenever I like without fighting crowds.
A. There are tradeoffs to be sure, with online casinos having advantages in some areas and live casinos having the edge in others just by nature of the venues.
Slot machines with multiple games have a niche in live casinos, but it’s not large. The first multi-game unit, the Bally Game Maker, was introduced in 1994. By touching or clicking and icon, you could launch slot games, video poker games, video blackjack and video keno.
Other manufacturers followed suit with multi-game units of their own. They’re especially common in video poker, where you can choose among Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus Poker and other games by selecting on a welcome screen.
We don’t see as many slot machines with multiple games on the same unit. One reason is that unplayed games go into attract mode, displaying game features and graphics to draw players. Players look for specific games, and that’s easier with one game per machine. Video poker is different. Players look for video poker, knowing there usually will be multiple game options.
Online, machines aren’t trying to attract passers-by. Instead, the focus is on making it easy for you to find and play the game you want without having to leave for a competing site.
Q. Does it help at all to track what cards have been dealt in video poker? If I had a pair of Aces including an Ace of spades, should I change my approach on the next hand if I’m dealt Queen-Jack of spades with a King of clubs and two low cards of different suits?
I’m thinking that maybe if the Ace of spades has been used the previous hand, then maybe the Queen-Jack two-card royal isn’t as attractive and I should hold King-Queen-Jack instead.
A. Video poker games are dealt from a single electronic deck, shuffled for every hand. Since you’re working with a fresh deck, your chances of drawing an Ace of spades are exactly the same on the second hand as they were on the first. That you actually received the Ace on the first hand does not change the odds on the second.
As for the strategy on the hand you outline, let’s use 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker as an example.
Assuming a five-coin bet, if you’re dealt King of clubs, Queen-Jack of spades, 7 of hearts and 3 of diamonds, your best play is to hold Queen-Jack. The 16,125 possible draws will bring an average return of 2.85 coins.
If you hold King-Queen-Jack, the average return on 1,081 possible two-card draws is 2.45 coins.
Given those average returns, the holding Queen-Jack easily is the better play, and those numbers don’t chance if an Ace of spades has come out on the previous hand.