A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. You’ve written a number of times that there are different pay tables on Pair Plus in Three Card Poker, and that the most common one isn’t as good as it used to be. Why is that? Why isn’t the pay table standard?

A. There are very few games in which payoffs are standard in all casinos. Slot machines are available with different payback percentages, video poker games of the same type have varying pay tables, blackjack has all sorts of rules options, casinos offer different free odds multiples, roulette comes in single-zero and double-zero varieties, and so on.

Three Card Poker originally was marketed with a single pay table for the Pair Plus option, and it carried a house edge of 2.32 percent. That’s lower than the edge on many table games, and casinos wanted options that would boost the house advantage.

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The pay table that is most prevalent in today’s casinos pays 40-1 for a straight flush, 30-1 for three of a kind, 6-1 for a straight, 3-1 on a flush and 1-1 for a pair. The house edge is 7.28 percent. The only difference between that and the original version is that the original paid 4-1 on flushes.

That’s too high for my liking, and I no longer play Pair Plus. The jump for the original 2.32 percent edge to 7.28 strikes me as extreme, and there are intermediate options available to casinos.

When they select game options, casinos are trying to maximize profits. They have to weigh a few factors. Obviously, per dollar wagered, the 7.28 percent game will make more money for the casino than the 2.32 percent version.

That has to be weighed against whether customers will continue to play the game that is tougher on their bankroll. and whether they will be repeat customers at a game that takes more money faster.

If play had dropped dramatically with the new pay table, casinos would have made less money on the game even while making more money per dollar wagered. A total of $100,000 in wagers would lead to an average of $2,320 in casino profits on the original game, but if the wager total drops to $25,000 on the revised pay table, casino profits drop to $1,820 despite the higher house edge.

The pay table with the higher house edge has survived and flourished, and that tells us customers are still playing the game. If customers will play a higher-edge game, higher-edge games are what they’ll be offered.

Q. I loved playing the Hangover slots, but suddenly I can’t find them anymore. Do you know where I can play?

A. I’m sorry to say I don’t have a listing of casinos that have specific slot games.

The Hangover has joined the ranks of older games and has cycled out of most casinos. It had a good long run. I first saw it at Global Gaming Expo in 2010 and it was widespread in casinos in 2011.

Only a handful of video slots last seven or eight years in casinos. Peak popularity for even the hottest games last a matter of months. That’s been a major change from the days when three-reel games ruled slot floors and popular titles would reign for years.

On video slots, players always are eager to see the latest and greatest new wrinkles, and slot manufacturers are eager to give them more. Hundreds of new games make their debut every year. A few older games build enough player loyalty to survive in declining numbers, with fewer machines on the floor as the months go by. But it’s the fate of nearly all video slot games to lose their space to newer machines.

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