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HOME > > Ask the Slot Expert: Risk analysis and video poker, Part 3

Ask the Slot Expert: Risk analysis and video poker, Part 3

28 April 2021

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: I usually play Hot Roll Video Poker, ten hands at 5-cent, 10-cent and 25-cent denomination. The game of choice is 8/5 Double Double Bonus or 9/5 for 25-cent denomination. This is all we have here in Boston. Each bet is $5, $10, and $25, respectively.

The question is : What is the bankroll requirement for each of these denominations to have a 1% and 5% risk of ruin?

Answer: Last week I used Dunbar's Risk Analyzer for Video Poker, a set of Excel macros, to try to answer this question. I simplified the analysis by ignoring the Hot Roll aspect of the game and just analyzing 9/5 Jacks. This week let's bite the bullet and see if we can analyze the game with the Hot Roll gimmick.

If you want the backstory, see my last two columns. You can read about the math behind how the Excel macros work in Risk of Ruin for Video Poker and Other Skewed-Up Games. For a description of the many capabilities of the macros, see Henry Tamburin's interview with Dunbar.

The Analyzer lets you enter your own custom paytables. The Wizard of Odds was kind enough to share the math of the gimmick on Hot Roll Poker. The Wizard tells us that the probability of getting a multiplier is 1/6. So 5/6 of the time we'll get the base payout for a winning hand and 1/6 of the time our winnings will be multiplied by a multiplier. The multiplier is determined by rolling two dice. We could add paytable entries for each total of two dice -- actually we can't because we can't enter that many paytable lines -- but we don't have to. We can just use the average sum of two dice, which is 7.

For our custom paytable, we have to make two entries for each paying hand, one base and one multiplied. We take the payouts and probabilities from the non-gimmicked paytable and multiply the probabilities by 5/6. For the multiplied entries, we multiply the probabilities by 1/6 and payouts by 7.

Let's create our new paytable. We can use a shortcut to do some of the work for us. From the Game Selection screen, choose 9/5 Jacks and click the Go button. Next click the To MAIN MENU button. Click START CALCS and then CUSTOM GAMES. Click No to say we want to create a new custom game. Click Get the Last Active Game button to fill the paytable with 9/5 Jacks.

Now we have to alter the probabilities displayed and add new entries for a multiplied win. When we're done entering the data, click Use Table Info and then Yes to save the paytable. Enter a name for the paytable and click OK.

Now we're on the calculation page. The data in the blue paytable box looks good, except for one thing. The return calculated for the paytable is 196.94%. Something's not right. The Wizard told us that the long-term payback for Hot Roll 9/5 Jacks is the same as that for the non-gimmick game. Maybe there's a clue in the fact that 196.94% is about twice the payback for 9/5 Jacks, 98.45%.

You know what we forgot? We have to bet 10 coins per hand. We didn't take that into account in our payoffs. We win 5 coins for Jacks or Better, but we bet 10 coins. The payout per coin isn't 1 but 0.5. We have to divide all of the payouts by 2. Fortunately the Analyzer lets us enter a fractional payout/coin.

When we go back to the calculation screen with the new payoffs, the return is now 98.47%.

Next we set up the parameters the same way we did last week. Choose the # of lines dropdown to change to 10-play.

We get a warning. The macros don't do Risk of Ruin (RoR) calculations for multi-line versions of custom games. We'll have to make believe that our total bet is riding on one line.

That's okay. We're not calculating navigation to the moon and back. We don't have to be exact. Enter 0.25 for Coin Size and 100 for Number of coins to get our bet of $25 per play.

Like last week, let's start with a $1000 bankroll to play four hours at 400 hands per hour. The RoR is 84%. Let's double our bankroll. RoR drops to 66%.

With 10-play 9/5 Jacks last week, $3075 gave us a 5% RoR. I don't get a 5% RoR until the bankroll is about $6500. To get RoR down to 1%, we need to bring about $8000 with us.

The greatly increased bankroll estimates are not surprising. Hot Roll 9/5 Jacks is much more volatile than regular 9/5 Jacks. We have to double our bet and most of the time we don't get anything for the extra coins. But when the multiplier is activated, we get paid at least twice what we would have been paid otherwise. And we may even get paid 12 times the base payout. We might be able to get away with slightly smaller bankrolls at the casino because playing 10-play spreads our risk over multiple outcomes.

The takeaway here is that you need a sizable bankroll to have a low chance of ruin when playing 10-play Hot Roll 9/5 Jacks.


The news tonight reported that the 7-day average for new Covid-19 cases in Clark Country is 396 per day. On March 27, the average was only 281 per day. Last month we celebrated when our test positivity rate fell below 5%, the level at which the virus is considered under control and you can consider loosening restrictions. Our positivity rate climbed steadily in April until it settled in at about 5.7% about two weeks ago.

What do you do given these numbers?

You open up even further on May 1, when capacity limits increase to 80%, social distancing decreases to three feet, and self-service buffets can reopen.

Note that these new rules do not apply to casinos. The Gaming Control Board governs casinos and it said it is going to take into account the number of employees that have been vaccinated in its decision to increase capacity.

Here are the latest figures from https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases.

Totals Weekly Increases
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Deaths  Cases  Deaths  Cases  Deaths  Cases  Deaths 
 04/27   31,924,610   569,771    313,680   5,433   383,163   4,958   2,747   65 
 04/20   31,541,447   564,813   310,933   5,368   464,556   5,072   2,590   36 
 04/13   31,076,891   559,741   308,343   5,332   480,061   5,321   2,986   57 
 04/06   30,596,830   554,420   305,357   5,275   448,935   7,124   3,084   38 
 03/30   30,147,895   547,296   302,273   5,237   439,510   6,793   939   63 
 03/23   29,708,385   540,503   301,334   5,174   388,928   7,446   1,863   53 
 03/16   29,319,457   533,057   299,471   5,121   381,695   8,362   3,078   81 
 03/09   28,937,762   524,695   296,393   5,040   480,902   11,573   2,413   83 
 03/02   28,456,860   513,122   293,980   4,957   463,356   14,129   2,835   75 
 02/23   27,993,504   498,993   291,145   4,882   451,083   13,923   2,406   162 
 02/16   27,542,421   485,070   288,739   4,720   602,906   21,411   4,149   198 
 02/09   26,939,515   463,659   284,590   4,522   779,305   21,828   5,444   244 
 02/02   26,160,210   441,831   279,146   4,278   1,007,777   22,004   7,249   249 
 01/26   25,152,433   419,827   271,897   4,029   1,312,565   23,385   10,324   250 
 01/19   23,839,868   396,442   261,573   3,779   1,317,119   21,318   11,324   279 
 01/12   22,522,749   375,124   250,249   3,500   1,790,345   22,660   17,217   294 
 01/05    20,732,404   352,464   233,032   3,206   1,499,561   18,435   14,655   233 
 12/29   19,232,843   334,029   218,377   2,973   1,258,540   15,460   12,493   186 
 12/22   17,974,303   318,569   205,884   2,787   1,656,411   18,537   16,472   239 
 12/15   16,317,892   300,032   189,412   2,548   1,494,763   17,247   18,825   229 
 12/08   14,823,129   282,785   170,587   2,319   1,375,502   15,483   18,418   175 
 12/01   13,447,627   267,302   152,169   2,144   1,114,175   10,286   15,942   121 
 11/24   12,333,452   257,016   136,227   2,023   1,197,199   10,784   14,130   106 
 11/17   11,136,253   246,232   122,097   1,917   1,099,790   8,501   11,115   65 
 11/10   10,036,463   237,731   110,982   1,852   767,645   6,838   8,868   68 
 11/03   9,268,818   230,893   102,114   1,784   588,207   5,809   5,936   35 
 10/27   8,680,611   225,084   96,178   1,749   492,026   5,585   5,238   (10) 
 10/20   8,188,585   219,499   90,940   1,759   401,037   5,053   4,501   48 
 10/13   7,787,548   214,446   86,439   1,711   351,270   4,886   3,910   48 
 10/06   7,436,278   209,560   82,529   1,663   306,965   4,962   3,232   36 
 09/29   7,129,313   204,598   79,297   1,627   303,616   5,136   3,058   54 
 09/22   6,825,697   199,462   76,239   1,573   288,070   5,370   2,196   82 
 09/15   6,537,627   194,092   72,043   1,491   250,265   5,404   1,825   65 
 09/08   6,287,362   188,688   72,218   1,426   282,919   5,638   2,734   92 
 09/01   6,004,443   183,050   69,484   1,334   251,790   5,291   3,237   104 
 08/25   5,752,653   177,759   66,247   1,230   330,411   7,889   4,076   125 
 08/18   5,422,242   169,870   62,171   1,105   358,071   7,463   4,973   114 
 08/11   5,064,171   162,407   57,198   991   365,353   7,203   5,776   117 
 08/04   4,698,818   155,204   51,422   874   418,683   7,532   7,367   109 
 07/28   4,280,135   147,672   44,055   764   460,996   7,042   7,130   91 
 07/21   3,819,139  140,630  36,195  674  463,682  5,395  8,181  57 
 07/14   3,355,457   135,235   28,744   617   422,861   5,102   5,607   57 
 07/07   2,932,596   130,133   23,137   560   351,367   3,394   5,006   24 
 06/30   2,581,229   126,739   18,131   536   278,941   6,406   4,367   26 
 06/23   2,302,288   120,333   13,764   510 


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 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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The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
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