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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Ask the Slot Expert: Do all 3-card royals have the same chances of completing the royal?

Ask the Slot Expert: Do all 3-card royals have the same chances of completing the royal?

27 September 2017

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: In response to the annoyance of people that hit the Bet Max instead of the Deal/Draw button:

I am one of these people for a couple reasons:

  • In a high-distraction (and to be fair, varying state of inebriation) environment, it reduces potential errors of mistaking which stage of a hand I am on
  • It helps slow play slightly, which is an obvious benefit in a negative-return game

Thought I’d chime in with a perspective.

Answer: Thanks for providing some more reasons why a player would use the Bet Max button to start a hand rather then Deal/Draw.

Slowing down your play is one way to ensure your bankroll lasts for as long as you want to play. If the machine lets you set the speed, you can also choose the slowest speed so the machine takes longer to deal cards and slows your play down even more.

When I first started hanging out with professional video poker players, I wondered why it took me longer to earn a certain number of points. One reason was obvious: I was playing upright machines with just one hand. My back would hurt after playing an upright for a while and playing one-handed relieved the stress that caused the pain. As a result, I really prefer slant-top machines, but many times there's no choice but to play an upright.

I started playing two-handed for longer and longer periods of time to build up the back muscles that were being strained. Now I can play two-handed for hours.

I also used to set machines on the slowest speed. For some reason, I found it jarring to have the cards appear quickly, but soothing when they appeared more slowly. I think it also made it easier to register all of the cards in the dealt hand. It's harder to see each individual card when you scan a group of five than when each card appears individually.

But the slow speed meant it took me longer to play a hand. Now I set the speed to the max when I have the option. When I don't, I avoid machines that are set to deal slowly and seek out ones that deal quickly.

Have you ever noticed that the cocktail waitress always seems to come by when you're in the middle of a hand?

I have to admit that on a few occasions, the cocktail waitress or some other distraction has caused me to forgot I was in the middle of a hand and I hit the Draw button thinking I was dealing and not drawing. (Good thing that a machine will lock up when you're dealt a royal flush!)

Of course, there are multiple on-screen cues that tell you whether you're at the deal or draw stage. " Game Over" is a sure indication that it's time to deal. The text on the on-screen Deal/Draw button may also change to indicate the stage. On machines that display in words when you have a winning hand, the color and size of the text usually changes when you have a dealt winning hand to when the hand has been held and paid off.

As you point out, one way to avoid Deal/Draw confusion is to use the Bet Max button to start a hand. Hitting the Bet Max button when you've already made a max bet has no effect.

By the way, after extensive research, I think I have determined the reason why the cocktail waitress always comes when you're in the middle of a hand. If takes very little time to go from the end of one hand to the start of the next and much more time to decide which cards to hold. If you add up the amount of time your machine is in each state, you'll find that you're in the middle of a hand state much longer than you're in the end of hand state.

The cocktail waitress is thus more likely to come by when you're in the middle of a hand simply because you spend much more time in that state.

Question: Perhaps you can clarify a holding for a royal question that's on my mind.

I realize holding A, K, Q to a royal makes it harder to possibly hit a "regular" straight because you're not open-ended. But, as far as hitting the royal goes, why (or would it) ever matter which three cards to the royal you had been dealt on the draw? Only two perfect cards are left to complete your royal no matter which three you held.

Answer: You're right on all counts.

The probability of completing a royal when you hold a 3-card royal is the same regardless of which three cards you hold. The probability is 2/47 in all cases because there are only two cards that complete your royal.

And you're right that you're limited in the number of straights you can get from AKQ. The only straight is TJQKA. If you held KQJ, on the other hand, your possible straights are TJQKA and 9TJQK.

You might see different three-card royal combinations listed separately on a strategy chart because their expected values are different. The number of straights or high pairs the combination can lead to affects its expected value.

You can see this in action on a strategy chart for Jacks or Better. A suited QJ is the 2-card royal combination with the highest expected value because of the number of straights and high pairs it can result in. A suited TJ may lead to more straights, but it leads to fewer high pairs because you're holding only one high card, so its expected value is lower.

Question: Do you know any acceptable video poker tutorials on the Apple app store? With the decline of full pay video poker, I don't want to pay the $50 for Video Poker for Winners by Bob Dancer. I have Winpoker on my iPad but it will not work with iOS 11. It is great but they don't appear to update. I have sent several emails with no response.

Answer: Sorry. I can't help because I'm Android on phones and tablets.

If anyone can recommend video poker apps for Apple, send me an email and I'll pass on the recommendations in a future column.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

John Robison
John  Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming's leading publications. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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