QUESTION: Are video poker machines programmed to pay royal flushes more often than they should? I’ve been playing live poker all my life, and I’ve never had a royal flush. But in video poker, I’ve had at least 10. What’s going on?.
ANSWER: I often hear from players who mistakenly believe that electronic gaming devices, whether they’re slots, video poker, video blackjack or video keno, pay off less often than you would expect by random chance. Rarely do I hear from a player who thinks the games pay MORE than they should.
The key to all this is opportunity. You play far more hands in an hour of video poker than you play in an entire night of live poker. Whether you’re sitting in a casino card room or around the kitchen table playing live poker, it takes time to deal cards to everyone, time for rounds of betting, time for players to make decisions on whether to hold ‘em or fold ‘em. In video poker, you’re just playing your own hand, and there are no complex decisions taking in other players’ cards and their tendencies, size of the pot, and all the things that go into decisions at live poker.
Sitting around the kitchen table playing cards, you’re lucky to get in 10 or 15 hands an hour. Playing video poker, it’s easy to play 500 hands an hour. In tournament play, I’ve been clocked at more than 800 hands an hour, and I’m a slowpoke compared with some acquaintances who play at pro level. In one night at a casino, you can play as many hands of video poker as a player in a weekly live game can play in a year.
If you play enough hands, you’ll see any combination of cards just by random chance. Casinos don’t need to juice up machines to pay extra royal flushes.
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