QUESTION: I think I remember you writing that the odds were so high against getting a royal flush in Caribbean Stud Poker that you were unlikely to even see someone else at your table get one in your lifetime, let alone get one yourself.
Yet, playing Ten Play video poker, I was DEALT a royal on the first five cards. I got the royal payoffs on all 10 hands. Since there was now draw, isn’t that the same odds as getting a royal in Caribbean Stud? Was I unusually lucky, or is there something different about video poker that makes it more likely to get a royal in the first five cards.
ANSWER: The answer to all your questions is “Yes.”
You’ll get a royal in the first five cards an average of once per 649,740 hands regardless of whether you’re playing Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, video poker or any other five-card poker game --- the odds are the same. Given those odds, yes, you certainly could say you were unusually lucky. But yes, there is something about video poker that makes you more likely to see a dealt royal than in Caribbean Stud.
That “something” is that we play video poker much, much faster than we play Caribbean Stud or other table games. If you’re playing 50 hands an hour or so at Caribbean Stud, you’ll see a royal flush an average of once per 12,994.8 hours. If you played one four-hour session a week, you’d see a royal about once every 62.5 years. If you always played at full seven-player tables, you’d see a player celebrate a royal about once per 9 years. Add the dealer’s hand to the mix, once it’d take an average of a little less than 8 years to see a royal --- though a dealer royal would be no cause for celebration.
Video poker is played much faster than 50 hands an hour. I’ve been clocked at a bit more than 700 hands an hour, and I have friends and acquaintances who play 800 hands an hour or more. Those are at the fast end, but 400 to 500 hands an hour is a nice, easy pace. At 500 hands an hour, you can divide all those Caribbean Stud times by 10 --- we see a dealt royal not once per 12,994.8 hours, but once per 1,299.48. At one four-hour session a week, we’ll see it once per 6.25 years. Those who play more will see dealt royals more often.
Of course, most video poker games are five-card draw and not five-card stud, so we see royal flushes much more often --- about once per 40,000 hands instead of once per 649,740. We don’t really care if the royal comes on the deal or the draw except in special cases like Ten Play, where getting it on the draw means 10 big jackpots. That’s a special hand --- congratulations!
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