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Long, Long Odds for Multiple Royals

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Last night, I was playing the quarter progressive slots here in Las Vegas. I held three cards and hit the royal for over 2k. On the very next hand, I was dealt two royal cards. I hit the deal button and hit another royal for another 2k (plus one cent.) I had never heard of anyone getting consecutive royals before but am glad it happened to me! I just thought you should know, plus I like to boast.
Signed, J. M.

Dear Mark: My wife hit three royals at one casino over a few hours. This occurred in Las Vegas last Friday and is photo documented. The last was a progressive worth $1018. I presume this is rare. Any comment?
Signed, M. H.

Depending on the individual game, strategy and pay table, a royal flush will occur roughly once every 40,000 hands. Those multiple royals that you both experienced have you breathing rarified air, so hats off to your good fortunes.

Once hitting your first royal flush, James, the odds of repeating it on the following hand remain the same, one in 40,000. However, the odds of hitting two successive royals are 40,000 multiplied by 40,000, or one in 1.6 billion. A Mega Millions $1 lottery ticket is more than nine times easier to hit.

While working slots in the early 80’s, I once paid off a consecutive royal flush. The kicker was that the player had to invest just five, and not 10 quarters. The reason why was that once we paid off his jackpot, it was standard procedure for the casino, in this case Yours Truly, to insert five of our own quarters to clear the machine and let the winning player play through on our dime (quarters).

As for your wife’s triple royal night, Mark, how about this exceptional event from 20 years ago. As reported to the Reno Gazette Journal on Tuesday, September 7, 1993, Stevey Tyler hit three $4000 royal flushes on separate video poker machines at Scolari's Food and Drug on Lakeside Court on Sunday afternoon. The Nevada Gaming Control Board agents closed the machines for analysis but found no evidence of tampering. Although not mentioned in the RGJ article, the rumor, as I recall, was that they were consecutive.

The unlikely odds of hitting three consecutive royal flushes would be 40,000 X 40,000 x 40,000, which add up to one in 64 trillion. This makes winning the Powerball at one in 175,223,510 seem easy pickins.

Dear Mark: I have heard that when playing blackjack you always split aces. Does that also take into account when the dealer has an Ace? Are there any exclusions to this rule?
Signed, D.A.

Precise basic strategy mandates that when dealt a pair of Aces, always split them, even if the dealer shows an Ace. There is one lone exclusion. If you are playing European-style blackjack where the dealer does not give himself a hole card, you would just hit against a dealer Ace. Otherwise, Dave, split against everything else.

By the way, Dave, readers of this column are always on the lookout for casinos that offer the best blackjack rules. So, while we’re on the subject of splitting aces, always look for a casino that has a favorable rule, allowing you to re-split them.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:
“There are no clocks in the palace of pleasure.”
– Florentine Proverb