John Grochowski

John Grochowski

Imagine you’re off for a couple of days at a casino destination – Atlantic City, Las Vegas, one of the hundreds of tribal casinos or anywhere else.

During your stay, you plan to play a fair amount of video poker, perhaps 10 hours or more over two days.

How much money to you need to have a reasonable chance to still be in action after that time?

That depends on the specific games you’ll be playing. The more volatile the game, the bigger the bankroll requirement.

Take 8-5 Bonus Poker and 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker. Overall returns are similar at 99.2 percent with expert play on BP and 99 percent on DDB.

But a bigger share of your payback comes on rarer hands in DDB, so on a 25-cent machine, the required bankroll for a 5 percent risk of ruin after 10 hours of play at 500 hands per hour is $510 on 8-5 BP, but $885 on 9-6 DDB.

Let’s take a step back and explain.

Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker are designed to give you extended play because they pay 2-for-1 on two pairs and concentrate more of their return in common hands. Other games, such as Double Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus Poker, pay only 1-for-1 on two pairs and make it up with big bonanzas on four of a kinds.

They concentrate more of their returns in relatively rare hands, making them a more volatile trip where it’s possible to win big, but also to lose your money fast.

One way to evaluate your bankroll needs is the risk of ruin with a percentage chance of going broke with a given bankroll in an intended amount of play.

In comparing 10-hour RORs, the assumption was an average speed of 500 hands per hour. Experienced, dedicated players can play more than 800 hands an hour, but 500 is an easy pace for average players who allow themselves time to talk with their friends or partners, take time to order a beverage and pause for the odd moment.

Using Video Poker for Winners software for calculations, I compared 10-hour ROR figures for 25-cent versions of Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Bonus Poker Deluxe, Double Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus Poker.

A few highlights:

**The games with the lowest bankroll requirements were Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker. That’s as expected, because of the 2-for-1 paybacks on two pairs.

For 9-6 Jacks or Better, a 99.5 percent game with expert play, quarter players see a 10-hour, 5-percent ROR of $450, with 8-5 BP at $510

Bankroll requirements rise with pay table reductions. You’d need $570 on 8-5 JB (97.3 percent) and $575 on 7-5 BP (98 percent).

**Bonus Poker Deluxe and Double Bonus Poker make up a middle range. Bankroll requirements are $675 on the rare 10-7-5 DB (100.2 percent) and $770 on 9-6 BPD (99.6 percent).

With reduced pay tables, you’ll need $825 on 9-6-5 DB (97.8) or $831 on 8-6 BPD (98.5).

**Double Double Bonus has more if its return coming from big hands such as the 2,000 coins for a five-coin bet with four Aces and a low-card kicker. So it’s the most volatile of these five games.

Bankroll requirements are $885 for the 9-6 version (99 percent) and a whopping $1,010 for 8-5 DDB (96.8).

Note that even the 99-percent version of DDB requires more bankroll than reduced-pay versions of the other games. The rewards are great when you draw the big hands, but when you don’t, you can bottom out fast.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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