Dear Mark: My wife and I play a lot of video poker, playing all the different games. Are Deuces Wild games preprogrammed to give you more wild two’s, or is it the same deck and a random number generator? Also, is a natural royal flush harder to get on that format than on Jacks-or-Better? John S.
All video poker machines, John, are nothing more than a computerized version of your five-card, kitchen table, draw poker game. The exception is that you are not playing against your friends, but playing solo with the sole objective of obtaining the minimum poker hand required in order to be paid. The differences between video poker machines are the payouts and the wild-card designations. Deuces Wild, John, is just what it states; deuces are wild.
As with any standard deck of 52 cards, there are four deuces. These four 2’s are wild and can be substituted for any other card, suit or rank. With a draw, your objective is to have a hand with at least a three-of-a-kind or better. The better your hand, the more money you will win on your wager.
Unquestionably, who wouldn’t want more deuces, but casinos are profit, not charity, driven. There is no presto-change-o switch that allows extra cards, especially wild ones, to be programmed into the mix. It is a completely random shuffle.
As for a natural Royal Flush on a Deuces Wild machine, the odds would be the same as if you were playing Jacks-or-Better. Because machines operate with a 52-card deck, there are 2,598,960 attainable hands, with only four of them having the possibility of a naturally dealt royal. Thus, the odds of a royal flush without the need of a draw are 1 in 649,740.
With draws, the odds of hitting a royal flush in video poker are approximately 40,000-1, but that varies from game to game, along with how you play the initial cards dealt to you. If you were playing Jacks or Better, or Bonus Poker, it is as mentioned above. With Deuces Wild, because you are keeping deuces that you would otherwise discard on a Jacks or Better machine, it is 45,000 to one.
As for identifying a decent Deuces Wild machine, John, you want to find a 9/5 Deuces Wild machine that returns five coins for four-of-a-kind. With maximum coin play and perfect strategy, a five-coin return for four-of-a-kind hand gives you a slight edge against the house—a theoretical return of 100.76% versus 94.34% if the machine returns just four coins.
Dear Mark: Do you know if one casino can track your playing time at another casino? John M.
Like Macy’s never telling Gimbel’s what they are up to, casinos do not swap trade secrets. Given the competitive nature of the gambling business, casinos protect their customer list as if it were a nuclear launch code. If, however, using Harrah’s Total Rewards program as an example, your card tracks all your play in their 40 resorts and casinos, it does not matter which of the 55,000 slots or video poker machines you play on. Each machine gives you the ability to earn and redeem your points. Competition across the street would love your action, but they have no access to what, or where, you are playing.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “He couldn’t track an elephant through four feet of snow” Amarillo Slim, characterizing an opponent