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Back to Back Baby

22 July 2021

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: I have a back-to-back jackpots story for you, and it's kind of a weird one.

I was with a group of friends, 10 in all, and we scattered to different games. I'll play slots with others, but I really like video poker.

I didn't bring a ton of money with me, and I like the multi-game machines, so I started on nickel Super Times Pay, with Triple Play Double Double Bonus Poker. They pay table wasn't great at 8-5, but I thought I'd take my chances at getting a big hand.

I held my own for a while, taking a half hour or so to lose my first $20. Then I got a hand where the deal brought Ace, Queen, Jack, 10 of spades, 9 of hearts and a 4x multiplier. It was the Queen that first showed the multiplier, then turning into the Queen.

I had three chances on the draw to get the royal. The first card was a 10 of clubs, the second a King of hearts so at least I had a straight for 20 nickels. On the last card, up came the King of spades. I swear my heart skipped a beat and my stomach turned upside down. I had the royal!

Usually, a nickel royal is $200, but I had the multiplier, so this one paid $800.

Now I was set for the day, so I cashed out and moved over to quarter Triple Play. Again, I chose Double Double Bonus, 9-5 this time. I'd have liked the 9-6 pay table, but it was only available on dollars and I couldn't afford that.

Lightning strikes twice! On my first hand, it dealt all five high diamonds! Incredible. I'd never had a dealt royal before. Royals have always been with draws. Timing was perfect since this dealt royal meant I won three times. THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Everybody was so excited for me. I bought lunch for 10, and I was never happier to do so.

ANSWER: Congratulations on your big win! Dealt royals happen an average of only once per 649,740 hands, and that it happened to you when you were playing three hands at once is a wonderful coincidence.

QUESTION: Blackjack basic strategy assumes a freshly shuffled deck, doesn't it? Shouldn't it change as cards are dealt and you're dealing with smaller decks?

ANSWER: Blackjack basic strategy assumes average deck composition. As long as the balance between high cards and low cards remains the same, so does strategy.

If more high cards are dealt than low cards, or more low cards are dealt than high cards, the balance is changed. Best strategy may chance with it.

Card counters use "index numbers" to tell them when it's to their advantage to change strategies.

For example, in a six-deck game in which the dealer hits soft 17, basic strategy tells us to hit hard 12 against a dealer's 3.

What if you're using the Hi-Lo count in which you count -1 every time an Ace or 10-value card is dealt and +1 for every 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. A "true count" is the total, or "running" count divided by the number of undealt decks . At a true count of +1, strategy flips to standing on 12 vs. 3.

There are a number of such hands that are close enough calls for a serious player to heed. Don Schlesinger coined the term "Illustrious 18" for these hands with indexes from +5 to -2.

But if you don't count cards, the best assumption is average deck composition, and basic strategy applies.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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