John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Q. A question about the new Ultimate X Spin Poker game you wrote about: It’s like Spin Poker, right, where the cards are on slot reels instead of being dealt out in a line? How does that change the odds? Am I more or less likely to win that way?

Also, is buying the Ultimate X feature worth it? It’s an extra five credits per hand to get the multipliers.

A. The odds on Spin Poker games are the same as on games dealt in the traditional manner as long as the pay tables are the same. With expert play, the average return on 8-5 Jacks or better is 97.3 percent, regardless of whether the game is Spin Poker, single-hand, Triple Play, Hundred Play or any other variation. The same goes for other games and pay tables: 8-5 Bonus Poker is a 99.2 percent game, regardless of how the hands are displayed.

The nine paylines on Spin Poker are just nine video poker hands. If you took the cards from each payline and spread them out as nine traditional-looking hands, the results would be the same.

As for the Ultimate X wager, game manufacturer International Game Technology generally sets up its extra-bet bonuses so that the added wager will bring a payback percentage as high or higher than the base game.

Using 8-5 Jacks or better as an example again, your overall payback percentage with Ultimate X is 97.9 percent on Triple Play versions and marginally higher at just under 98 percent on Five Play and Ten Play games.

Betting enough to get the Ultimate X multipliers raises the overall return so that it’s higher than the 97.3 percent without Ultimate X.

However, you’re doubling your wagers to get the multipliers. In 1,000 credits worth of wagers on the base game, your expected average loss would be 27 credits. If you double that to 2,000 credits in wagers to get the multiplier feature, your payback percentage increases but your average loss also increases to 42 credits.

Whether it’s worth the extra bet to get the Ultimate X feature depends on your goals, preferences and bankroll. Ultimate X increases the payback percentage and gives you a better shot at bigger wins, but there’s a trade off in a bigger risk and higher average losses.

Q. Something that’s always puzzled me about the poker games in the main table pits, things like Mississippi Stud, is: why are the jackpots on royal flushes so low? Shouldn’t you win hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of 500-1.

A. Mississippi Stud, like Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride and others before it, is based on five-card stud poker. As in all five-card stud games, there are 2,589,960 possible hands in which card order doesn’t matter and there are four possible royal flushes — one for each suit.

That means the chances of having a royal flush in any given hand are one in 649,740.

With that in mind, a 500-1 payoff on a royal seems meager, but you have to remember that royals are not the only paying hands. In Mississippi Stud, you get your money back with a pair of 6s through 10s, and are paid 1-1 with pairs of Jacks or better, 2-1 on two pairs and so on, with paybacks increasing up to that 500-1 on royals.

If the game paid off only on royal flushes, then winners could pay paid 600,000-1 or more while retaining an edge for the house. But that would be an unplayable game where you could go decades at a time without a winning hand.

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