A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I was interested in your post about Wheel Poker, and how the extra bet on the Wheel Bonus actually reduces the overall house edge. Is that true on Ultimate X, too? My wife and I both love to play Triple Play with Ultimate X.
A. The extra bet to activate the Ultimate X feature does raise the overall payback percentage on video poker games, but by how much may depend on the number of hands you play.
In Ultimate X, you wager an extra five credits per hand to activate a multiplier feature. Winning hands bring a multiplier for the following hand. The multiplier depends on the rank of the winning hand.
In Triple Play Jacks or Better, for example, if you’ve activated Ultimate X and have a pair of Jacks or better on the bottom hand, a full house on the middle hand and losing hand on top, then on the next hand, a 2x multiplier would be applied to any winner on the bottom, a 12x multiplier to winners on the middle and you would get no multiplier on top.
At WizardOfOdds.com, Michael Shackleford did an analysis that points out that on some hands, multipliers are different depending on the number of hands you play.
In Jacks or Better, for example, royal flushes and straight flushes bring 2x multipliers on Triple Play and Five Play, but 7x on Ten Play. On four of a kind, you get a 2x multiplier for the following hand for Triple Play, but 3x on Five and Ten Play.
You can find a complete listing of winning hands and their multipliers for Triple, Five and Ten play at WizardOfOdds.com.
The bigger multipliers on some hands lead to higher payback percentages when you’re playing more hands.
The average return with expert play on 7-5 Jacks or Better — much more common than higher pay tables on Ultimate X 3 with no multiplier feature is 96.15 percent. With the Ultimate X feature, the paybacks rise to 96.72 percent for three-hand play, 96.81 percent for five hands and 96.83 percent for 10 hands.
On 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, the usual return is 98.98 percent with expert play. With Ultimate X active, that rises to 99.73 percent for Triple Play, 99.79 percent for Five Play and 99.87 percent for Ten Play.
Regardless of game and pay table, paying extra for the Ultimate X feature boosts your overall payback percentage.
Q. When you go to the track, sports book or OTB, the odds keep changing as bets come in. A horse that’s 9-1 now might be only 5-1 five minutes from now. Does the house edge rise and fall, too?
A. In pari-mutuel wagering, a percentage of all wagers is skimmed off the top, with portions of that going to the track, the state, the horsemen, the wagering outlet and so on.
The precise percentage of wagers that are held varies by jurisdiction, and multihorse bets such as trifectas and quinellas often have larger percentages withheld than do straight win-place-show bets.
Results of the race make no impact on the house take. It’s the size of the wagering pool that matters, not the results, and the house edge is the same regardless of which horses drew more wagers.
There are occasional exceptions in the case of minus pools, on which so much money is bet on a winning horse that a track must tap its own funds to make the required minimum payout of $2.10 for a $2 wager. But with that exception noted, the track percentage is not dependent on results and does not rise and fall as wagers are made.