John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. Regarding the Joker’s Wild game you mentioned where the big jackpot is on five of a kind instead of a natural royal, how can they afford to offer that? If the jackpot hand comes up once per 10,994 hands, as you say, and that’s about four times as often as royals in most video poker games, it just doesn’t seem like casinos would want to give away all those big hits.

A. The increased frequency of big jackpots is offset by reductions lower on the pay table, where winners are more common.

A Joker’s Wild version that starts the pay table at two pairs and puts the top jackpot on five of a kind has an overall return of 97.19 percent with expert play. Another version of Jokers Wild, two pairs or better, gives the top jackpot on a natural royal but returns 99.08 percent.

How can the version that gives much less frequent top jackpots be the higher payer?

The high payer returns more on four of a kind (20-for-1), flushes (7-for-1) and straights (5-for-1) than the low payer (16-for-1, 5-for-1 and 4-for-1).

Those hands occur a LOT more often than five of a kind. In the 99.08 percent version of Joker’s Wild Two Pair, expert strategy brings four of a kind an average of once per 123.9 hands, flushes once per 44.7 and straights once per 35.4.

Picking up small extra paybacks that often more than offsets the difference in jackpot frequency.

It’s the same principal as in other video poker games. Bonus Poker can offer bigger four of a kind payoffs than Jacks or Better because it comes with reduced full house and flush returns. Double Double Bonus Poker can go even bigger on the quads because it pays only 1-for-1 on two pairs instead of the 2-for-1 on Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker. Triple Double Bonus Poker can really go wild with its four of a kinds because it reduces three of a kind to 2-for-1 instead of the usual 3-for-1.

Anytime you see increased frequency of jackpots or supersized pays near the top of the table, it’s possible because of reductions in payoffs on hands you see a lot more often.

Q. Walk me through the chances of winning two. three or four bets in a row in roulette. If I bet on my wife’s birthday, the 12th, what are my chances of getting that to come up several times in a row?

I ask because she said a nice birthday present would be three wins in a row.

A.That would be a really nice present, and one that’s really hard to get.

On an American double-zero wheel, you have a 1 in 38 – or 2.63 percent – chance of winning a single-number bet.

For the chances of winning twice in a row, multiply 1 in 38 by itself. That’s 1 in 1,444, or 0.069 percent.

To make it three in a row, multiply by 1 in 38 again, bringing your chances to 1 in 54,872. That’s 0.0018 percent.

And for four in a row, multiply by 1 in 38 once more. That’s 1 in 2,085,186, taking you past 1 in 2 million for 1 in 0.000048 percent.

What if you manage to find a single zero wheel? Then your chances of winning once are 1 in 37, or 2.70 percent. For two in row, it’s 1 in 1,369, or 0.073 percent; for three, it’s 1 in 50,653, or 0.0020 percent; and for four it’s 1 in 1,875,161, or 0.000053 percent.

If I were you, I’d think of a different birthday present.