QUESTION: What can you tell me about Triple Trouble video poker, the one with the Devils that multiply your wins? What strategy adjustments do you have to make? I really like the game, but I want to get the most out of it.
ANSWER: Triple Trouble has been around for a long time and is found mainly on Bally GameMaker multigame machines. It’s not a common offering in most of the country, though it has a following in Atlantic City and I’ve heard reports of it turning up in northern Nevada, occasionally in Las Vegas. That its strongest market is in Atlantic City might be because it’s usually found on the same GameMaker machines as Pick’Em Poker, which has a loyal A.C. following.
Standard Triple Trouble payoffs look like this: Royal flush 800-for-1; straight flush 50; four Aces 200; four 2s, 3s or 4s 40; four 5s through Kings 25; full house 7; flush 5; straight 4; three of a kind 2; two pair 1; one pair 1.
Note that the game pays on any pair, instead of Jacks or better as in most video poker games. That makes up some of the difference with two pair reduced to 1-for-1 and three of a kind to 2-for-1 without huge leaps in four of a kind payoffs. Even so, without the Devil feature this would be a very low-paying video poker game, returning just a shade over 80 percent with expert play.
But the game also features three spinning devils that could light up after play. If you get three devils, you triple your win, plus you get three free plays on which winnings are tripled. If three devils appear during the free spins, your original hand is multiplied by nine.
The devils appear randomly and are independent of poker play. They do not affect strategy. Your play does not affect when or how often the devils fire it up, so your best play is just to keep cool. Play regular strategy for the pay table on the game, and count yourself lucky when the devils come up.
On his wizardofodds.com site, Michael Shackelford says he’s been told the devils align on 1.6 percent of hands. They add about 17 percent to the overall return, leaving a game that pays 97.5 percent with expert play. That’s right in line with common video poker pay tables such as 8-5 Jacks or Better (97.3 percent), 9-6-5 Double Bonus Poker (97.9), 9-6 Double Double Bonus (97.9) or 7-5 Bonus Poker (98.0).
QUESTION: Did you read about the man who made a $100 parlay bet and picked 23 football games? He won $25,772. What are the odds of picking 23 football games right?
ANSWER: That’s a trickier question than you might think. If you’re betting games against point spreads, as most fans think of football wagering, then each game is essentially a coin flip. Some bettors are skilled enough at handicapping to pick winners at a higher rate, but point spreads are designed to draw about the same amount of action on both sides of the bet.
If the picks were a 50-50 proposition, then the chances of hitting 23 of 23 would be1 in 2 to the 23rd power, or 1 in 8,388,608.
But the bettor who won the parlay at an online site wasn’t picking against the spread, he was betting on the money line. On the money line, all you have to do is pick winners. It’s the odds and payoffs that are adjusted. For example, one of the games in his parlay was Northern Illinois at -660 against Akron. If he were betting that game alone, he’d have had to wager $660 on NIU to win $100.
With heavy favorites, there’s a much greater chance of picking the correct winner. I don’t think we’d be off base to assume there was at least a 90 percent chance that Alabama, at -1,100, would beat Tennessee on parlay day.
There were closer games on his list. He picked one underdog, Kansas State which was listed at +125 before crushing West Virginia 55-14.
What if we assume that there were enough mismatches and that he was skilled enough as a handicapper to have a 90 percent chance of winning in each game? Then we could raise 0.9 to the 23rd power, and multiply by 100 to find an 8.86 percent chance of winning the parlay, or about 1 in 11.28. If anyone could really pick 90 percent winners, that would be easy money.
What if we instead assumed five games with a 90 percent chance of winning, five at 80 percent, five at 70 percent, five at 60 percent and three 50-50 tossups? That takes it all the way down to 0.0316 percent, or about 1 in 3,164.
Even without point spreads, picking 23 winners with no misses is a rugged task. This bettor earned his money.
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