A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I’m puzzled that whenever you write about video poker payback percentages you are writing about stand alone video poker machines. The most common machines that have video poker are Game Kings.
Their payback percentages are muddled. These machines have at least eight different poker games plus at least two slot games in them. What are the payback percentages here?
A. The payback percentages on each video poker game are the same regardless of whether they're on a single-game machine or a multi-game machine such as Game King.
If a Game King has eight different video poker games, each game has its own theoretical payback percentage. Don’t worry about a payback percentage for the Game King unit as a whole. The only one that matters to you is the percentage for the game you choose.
If you are playing 8-5 Jacks or Better, the average return with expert play is 97.3 percent regardless of whether you're playing on Game King or a single-game machine. If you're playing 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, the average return with expert play is 99 percent regardless of whether it's on a single-game machine or on Game King.
Q. I get the warnings about not making the five-number bet on 0-00-1-2-3 at double-zero roulette because of the higher house edge. What about single-zero roulette? Is there a penalty for betting 0-1-2-3 as a combination?
Also, what if I wanted to bet 0-00-1-2-3? What’s the best way to do it without the higher edge?
A.There is no equivalent higher-house edge bet on a single-zero wheel. A combination of 0-1-2-3 is just a four-number bet, the same as any corner bet on the layout.
At single-zero roulette, that’s a 2.7 percent house edge – the same as if you were betting single numbers, three-number streets, red/black or anything else with one proviso: If you’re lucky enough to find a casino with the European en prison rule, the house edge is lower at 1.4 percent on the even-money bets such as red/black, odd/even and first 18/last 18.
In double-zero roulette, the house edge is 5.26 percent on everything but the five-number bet, where it soars to 7.89 percent.
A proviso here, too: In Atlantic City, you get half your bet back on even-money bets if the ball lands on 0 or 00. That drops the edge on those bets to 2.63 percent.
What should you do to bet 0-00-1-2-3 without the higher edge? Make any combination of inside bets to cover those numbers.
Let’s say you’re at a $5 table with a minimum chip value of $1. Your bets on inside numbers must total at least $5 to meet the table minimum.
You could cover your numbers by betting $1 each on 0. 00. 1, 2 and 3; or with a $2 split on 0 and 00 and a $3 street on 1, 2 and 3; or with a $2 split on 0 and 00, a $2 split on 1 and 2 and a $1 single-number on 3, among other possibilities.
If your table minimum is only $3, you could put a $1 split on 0 and 00 and a $2 street on 1, 2, 3, or $1 splits on 0-00 and 2-3 and a $1 single on 1.
Regardless of what combination you make up, the house edge is the same 5.26 percent as on nearly every available combination. You spot the house the extra edge only if you insist on betting 0-00-1-2-3 as a five-number combo. There are enough ways to cover those numbers that there’s no point in doing it with a five-number bet.