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Your State Lottery Has Better Odds

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: As usual, we do not have the time or energy to calculate what the odds are of hitting the “Super Royal in Diamonds” hand, but we will certainly “borrow” that information for this blog should an actual journalist or mathematician care to bust out an abacus. Alastair K.

The Super Royal in Diamonds, currently exclusive to Caesars Entertainment properties, is a six-card side bet on Three Card Poker that gives you a chance of winning a million buckaroos if you hit a natural Super Royal in diamonds (9- 10-J-Q-K-A).

To qualify for the bonus million dollars, you must place Ante and Pair Plus wagers based on the posted table minimums. The 6-Card Bonus wager itself is offered at $5-$100, with odds paid on all hands of 3-of-a-kind or better, except for a fixed payout of $100,000, for a Super Royal in spades, clubs or hearts, and with that $1 million Super Royal diamond hand always coaxing you along.

A mathematician I’m not, Alastair, so as a substitute for an abacus, I’ll go with my trusty HP calculator.

As the rules state, you need six specific cards out of 52 to win; the nine (which you don’t need for a typical royal), 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of Diamonds.

So your odds are 52:6 of getting one of the cards needed on the first card dealt, then 51:5 the second card dealt, 50:4 on the third card, 49:3 on the fourth card, 48:2 on the fifth, and your odds are 47:1 of getting the last card you need as the sixth card dealt.

Now multiply the odds governing these six events, and presto, the grand total is 19,474,520 to 1. Ouch! Don’t look for any added cha-chingle in your pocket on this wager. A buck on your state lottery is a much easier hit.

Dear Mark: After a big-paying hand in video poker, do you recommend then moving to another machine since the machine usually stops paying? Carrie A.

The odds of hitting any substantial jackpot are exactly the same after a big-paying hand as they were before it. Far too many video poker players believe a machine needs to recoup its losses after a decent pay. It doesn't, Carrie. That’s nothing more than a video poker myth. The deal continues to be random.

My recommendation here, Carrie, is that when you do have a high-paying hand, squirrel away most of your winnings.

Dear Mark: You mention the words “full pay machines” often in your columns when talking about video poker, Could you explain what you mean by that? Denny B.

A “full pay machine” is typically the best payoff schedule offered for a particular game with the maximum average payback close to 100%. For instance, a Full Pay Jacks-or-Better machine has a maximum average payback of approximately 99.5%, and a full pay Deuces Wild machine has a maximum average payback of about 100.7%.

Smart players always seek out full pay machines, and use strategies that are developed for each particular full pay version.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Gambling may be wicked; it is very stupid; but it happens to be an innate characteristic of mankind, and that is really all one need say about it.” —General Pierre Polovtsoff, President of the International Sporting Club, Monte Carlo Casino 1937