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A Flush at the Outhouse

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: We have a fairly new casino where I live that locals have nicknamed “the Outhouse,” because it’s impossible to get it a Flush there. Get it? It is so obvious that I actually have taken pen and paper and kept track of the action. A couple of times, I have kept a four-card flush 24 times before filling it, but the norm is between 14 to 17 hands. What are the real odds of filing a four card flush with a deck of 52 cards?
Dick L.

“The Outhouse.” That’s funny. 

A flush is a hand ranking directly below a full house and immediately above a straight that contains five cards of the same suit. Once dealt four of an alike suit and you discard the loner, the odds of hitting a flush with the four similar suited cards is nine of the remaining 47 cards, which is 19.1% or 5.222 to 1. 

Here’s the deal, Dick. Video poker results are determined at random. Just because you didn’t catch a flush with the frequency predicted by barnyard math, it doesn't mean that you are being ripped off. You are just experiencing the randomness of video poker machines against your relatively short gambling timeline. 

Also, Dick, I hope you are not keeping some four-card flushes in lieu of better hands. You should always keep a high pair over a typical flush, like a 2, 5, 9 and Queen of spades, but a non-paying four-card flush hand with more value than a high pair is a four-card royal flush and any four-card straight flush. Both of these hands have a higher Expected Value than a high pair and should be held intact. 

Dear Mark: I was on a crap game that had a pretty decent roll going. So figuring anything would work, I threw out a $5 chip and called for a Hard 10. Seven rolls, and the shooter screams at me for causing it. Why me? I didn’t interfere in any way with the dice, and I didn’t toss the seven, he did.
Dan L.

Hey, Dan, not to nit pick you play  -- you do know a hard 10 has a house edge of 11.1% -- but you might have left out an itsy bitsy detail in your e-mail, that being, trying to place a bet after the shooter had the dice in his hands. That’s a no-no on a craps table. 

I’m surprised the dealer didn’t call out "no more bets," but even so, a late bet not only goes against craps etiquette, but amongst the superstitious, it creates bad luck. 

Dear Mark: Last year I hit my first five-figure jackpot on a slot machine. Since then, it seems even smaller jackpots have dropped off considerably. When I insert my Player’s Card, and I get the slot machines message welcoming me (Marty) back to a casino, does the machine I am playing on know that I recently won a decent sized jackpot, and it is time to get back some of those winnings?
Marty S.

Congratulations, Marty, on your first, of -- hopefully -- many more big jackpots to come.

I’m sure the casino would love to get back some of your winnings, but fortunately, the Player’s Card software within doesn’t have the capability to signal the machine that Marty had won a decent sized jackpot on a previous visit and it’s high time for you to start giving it back. What you may notice though is an increase of special offers coming in the mail to induce your return so the casino can take a whack at that five-figure jackpot you won.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Even in their wildest dreams, casino owners could not possibly have concocted anything to match a slot machine's raw capacity to generate revenue." --Lou Krieger & Arthur Reber, Strictly Slots