A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I just got back from my first casino trip since February, and it was a keeper. I just have to tell you about my back to back video poker jackpots, because I know you use those stories sometimes.
It was the first chance I had to play Triple Triple Bonus Poker. It has extra chances to win the 4,000 coins you usually get only for a royal, and I did it twice in a row! It was on a quarter game, so I got two $1,000 payoffs.
The first time is just a plain old royal — LOL! I was dealt the 10, Queen and King of clubs, and I got that jolt when the draw brought the Jack and Ace. After all these years, it’s still like an electric shock through my body when the royal comes up.
On the next hand, I was dealt a pair of 4s, a Jack of hearts and a couple of middling cards. I decided that in this game, I wanted to go for it. I threw away the Jack and the other two cards and just kept the 2s.
The first card up was an Ace, then a 2. I know it’s just a fraction of a second, but my stomach was doing flip flops, or maybe just a flip. Then it deal the other 2.
I couldn’t believe it. Thousand dollar payoffs two hands in a row.
Guess who has a new favorite game?
A. Congratulations! The big wins are always exciting, and two in a row is incredible.
I’d just add a caution not to get too carried away. The big hands aren’t going to come up every time you play. There will be times your money will drain really fast, and you’ll wish you were playing something else.
The key to offering so many large jackpots is in reducing payoffs on more common hands. In games such as Double Double Bonus, Double Bonus and Bonus Poker Deluxe, it’s enough to reduce the two-pair return to 1-for-1 from the 2-for-1 you get on Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker.
Triple Triple Bonus goes two steps farther and reduces three of a kind to 2-for-1 and straights to 3-for-1. Most other games pay 3-for-1 on three of a kind and 4-for-1 on straights.
On the jackpot side, you get the 4,000-coin jackpot for a five-coin wager not only for a royal flush but also four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 or four 2s, 3s or 4s with an Ace.
With more of the overall return coming on rare hands and less on common hands lower on the table, Triple Triple Bonus is an extremely volatile game where bankroll-gobbling fast losses offset big wins.
Q. My mom talks about slot machines where you used coins to play and got paid in coins. I’m not a kid. I’m in my 30s and have been playing with Mom for five years or so, but I don’t think I’ve ever used actual coins to bet. When did that stop?
A. There are still casinos with older machines that with slots to drop coins, though most jurisdictions don’t have such games anymore.
The trend toward coinless play got a boost at the beginning of the 1990s when machines with bill validators were introduced, enabling you to use paper money to buy credits on a meter. Payoffs via tickets began in 1992 and gradually took over the slot floors. By the beginning of the 2000s, most machines used bill validators and ticket printers, though coin-dropping options remained common for a few more years.