REG.GAMBLING'S VIDEO POKER FAQ

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Miscellaneous Frequently Asked Questions

This is the Miscellaneous section of the rec.gambling Frequently Asked
Questions (FAQ) list.

Changes or additions to this section of the FAQ should be submitted to:
jacobs@xmission.com.

Page last modified: 1-31-95
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Section V: Video Poker
V1 Is it possible to gain an advantage at Video Poker?
V2 What is the "basic strategy" for Jacks or Better Video Poker?
V3 What is the "basic strategy" for Deuces Wild Video Poker?

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Section V: Video Poker

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Q:V1 Is it possible to gain an advantage at Video Poker?
A:V1 (Steve Jacobs)

The video poker strategy discussed here is for the common "8/5" machines
(called 8/5 because of the 8-for-1 payoff for a full house and 5-for-1 payoff
for a flush). "Joker's Wild" and "Deuces Wild" machines will require a much
different strategy.

In order to have an advantage over the house, you must find a machine with a
progressive jackpot that is larger than about 1750 maximum bets. ($8750 for $1
machines, $2200 for $.25 machines, $440 for $.05 machines). This level only
makes the game even with the house. The jackpot must be higher than this in
order to gain an advantage. The player's edge increases by about 1% for each
addition of 350 maximum bets into the progressive jackpot.

In order to have a 2% edge, the jackpot must be about 2500 max. bets. ($12,500
for $1 machines, $3125 for $.25 machines, $625 for $.05 machines).

The main difficulty with playing video poker is that it takes an average of 60
hours of rapid play to hit a royal flush, and it takes a _huge_ bankroll to
survive long enough to win. During this time, the casino enjoys an advantage of
approximately 5%. Straight flushes can be expected about once every 6 hours on
average, but these contribute only about 0.5% to the player's return. 4-of-kind
hands occur only about once per hour, and these hands account for about 5% of
the player's return.

What this all means to the video poker player is that you will be playing with
about a 10% disadvantage while waiting for an occasional "boost" from a
4-of-kind or straight flush. On average, it will take a bankroll about as large
as the progressive jackpot to survive long enough to hit the royal flush (and
this assumes that the jackpot is large enough to give the player a reasonable
edge over the house).

The following table shows the relative frequency of each hand, and the
resultant effect on the expected return, assuming the given strategy is used.
The table shows that you can expect to get nothing back about 55% of the time,
and hit either a high pair, two pair, or three of a kind another 41% of the
time. Hands of higher value occur only about 3.6% of the time. This means that
the house has a whopping 31% edge most of the time.

    return    % rate    frequency    variance
  ------------------------------------------
    5.308 ->  0.00306 -> 1/32680     91.90  --==--
    0.492 ->  0.00984 -> 1/10163      0.246 STRAIGHT FLUSH!!!!
    5.878 ->  0.235   -> 1/425        1.469 FOUR OF A KIND!!!
    9.183 ->  1.148   -> 1/87         0.735 FULL HOUSE!!
    5.584 ->  1.117   -> 1/89.5       0.293 FLUSH!
    4.512 ->  1.128   -> 1/88.7       0.180 STRAIGHT!
   22.227 ->  7.409   -> 1/13.5       0.667 THREE OF A KIND
   25.780 -> 12.890   -> 1/7.76       0.516 TWO PAIR
   21.053 -> 21.053   -> 1/4.75       0.211 HIGH PAIR
  ------------------------------------------
             44.993%                  4.317 + royal

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Q:V2 What is the "basic strategy" for Jacks or Better Video Poker?
A:V2 (Steve Jacobs)

Strategy based on the following payoffs:

        high pair          1 for 1
        two pair           2 for 1
        3 kind             3 for 1
        straight           4 for 1
        flush              5 for 1
        full house         8 for 1
        4 kind            25 for 1
        str flush         50 for 1
        royal flush     2500 for 1 (expected return 102%)

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Simplified strategy (find first hand that matches, keep only needed cards).
Best draws are listed in order of decreasing expected value.

Expected value of each draw is shown, in units of one max. bet. Numbers in ()
vary, depending on progressive jackpot (value shown is for jackpot of 2500 max.
bets).

  drawing  value          hand
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    0     (2500)     royal flush
    1     (  54)       4/royal (break up KQJT9 str-flush) [1]
    0        50      straight flush
    0        25      4 kind
    0         8      full house
    0         5      flush
    2         4.24   3 kind
    0         4      straight
    1         3.4      4/str-flush
    2     (   2.9)     3/royal (break up pairs) [2,3]
    1         2.51   two pair
    3         1.53   high pair
    1         1.0      4/flush
    1         0.87     KQJT 4/straight
    3         0.814  low pair
    1         0.809    QJT9 4/straight (outside, two high cards)
    1         0.745    JT98 4/straight (outside, one high card)
    2         0.699    QJ9 3/str-flush
    2         0.697    JT9 3/str-flush
    3     (   0.69)    2/royal (both non-tens)
    1         0.681    4/straight (outside, no high cards)
    2         0.599    3/str-flush (one high card, spread 4)
    2         0.597    3/str-flush (spread 3)
    3     (   0.59)    2/royal (10 + one high card)
    1         0.596    AKQJ straight (4 high cards)
    1         0.532    AKQT/AKJT/AQJT/KQJ9 straight (3 high cards)
    2         0.515    KQJ unsuited
    3         0.509    QJ unsuited
    2         0.502    3/str-flush (one high card, spread 5)
    2         0.500    3/str-flush (none high cards, spread 4)
    3         0.48     3 unsuited high cards (keep lowest two)
    3         0.48     2 unsuited high cards
    4     (   0.48)    high card
    2         0.402    3/str-flush (none high cards, spread 5)
    5         0.360    garbage (draw 5 new cards)
  --------------------------------------------------------------------------
  [1] Keep KQJT9 straight flush if progressive jackpot is below 2282 bets.
  [2] Keep two high pair if progressive jackpot is below 2100 bets.
  [3] Keep high pair plus paired 10's if progressive is below 2175 bets.

  The following draws should NOT be taken, since drawing 5 new
  cards gives a greater expected gain.

    1         0.340   4/straight (inside, no high cards) --> keep none
    2         0.305   3/flush (no high cards) --> keep none
    2         0.275   3/straight (no high cards) --> keep none

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Q:V3 What is the "basic strategy" for Deuces Wild Video Poker?
A:V3 (Derek Franks)

Based upon the following payout schedule:

        Royal Flush     800
        4 deuces        200
        Wild Royal       25
        5-of-a-kind      15
        Straight Flush    9
        4-of-a-kind       5
        Full House        3
        Flush/Straight    2
        3-of-a-kind       1

Average payback is 100.761%

The following strategy yields an average profit of 350 units per average royal
cycle of 45,278 hands.

  #d Hand Type            Expected Value

   4 Four deuces          200
   3 Royal Flush(wild)     25
   3 5-of-a-Kind(10-A)*    15
   3 deuces alone          15.026
   2 Royal Flush(wild)     25
   2 5-of-a-Kind           15
   2 Straight Flush         9
   2 4-of-a-Kind            5.851
   2 Royal Flush 4          4.606
   2 Straight Flush 4       3.340
   2 deuces alone           3.260
   1 Royal Flush           25
   1 Straight Flush        15
   1 4-of-a-Kind            5.851
   1 Royal Flush 4          3.501
   1 Full House             3
   1 Straigh Flush 4        2.209
   1 3-of-a-Kind            2.018
   1 Flush or Straight      2
   1 Straight Flush 4 i     1.974
   1 Straight Flush 4 di    1.698
   1 Straight Flush 4i ace  1.421
   1 Royal Flush 3          1.098
   1 Straight Flush 3       1.091
   1 deuce alone            1.029
   0 Royal Flush          800
   0 Royal Flush 4         19.626
   0 Straight Flush         9
   0 4-of-a-Kind            5.851
   0 Full House             3
   0 3-of-a-Kind            2.018
   0 Flush or Straight      2
   0 Straight Flush 4       1.643
   0 Straight Flush 4i      1.370
   0 Royal Flush 3          1.325
   0 Straight Flush 4i ace  1.106
   0 one pair **             .561
   0 Straight Flush 3        .520
   0 Flush 4 or Straight 4   .511
   0 Straight Flush 3 i      .438
   0 J-10 suited             .362
   0 Straight Flush 3 di     .355
   0 Straight 4 i            .340
   0 Q-J or Q-10 suited      .332
   0 garbage - draw 5        .322

  * Don't break up 5-of-a-kinds of tens through aces.  The removal
  of those 2 cards reduces the wild royal possibilities.  OTOH,
  discarding two low cards makes 3 deuces alone worth 15.06.

  ** Never draw to 2 pair.  Discard either pair and draw 3.

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