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Bankrolling your play as varied as the games

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Updated: August 21, 2012 6:15AM



My friend Mark isn’t a casino regular, but he likes to play a little video poker now and then. His goal is just to have a good time and stay in action for a couple of hours.

“Do you have a guide to how much cash I need to last a couple of hours?” he asked.

I showed him the bankroll calculator on Video Poker for Winners software, and assumed expert play for 1,000 hands — about two hours play for an average player.

First up was Jacks or Better on three pay tables — the full-pay 9-6 game, paying 9-for-1 on full houses and 6-for-1 on flushes, which returns 99.54 percent with expert play; the 8-5 game (97.30 percent) that’s fairly easy to find on dollar machines in the Chicago area; and the 7-5 game (96.15 percent) that’s common on quarter games in these parts.

The average loss for two hours of betting $1.25 a hand on a quarter machine is $5.75 with a 9-6 pay table, $34.75 at 8-5 and $48.12 at 7-5 — which ought to tell you why I’m always harping on finding the best pay tables. But the required bankroll is much higher than that for a 5 percent risk of ruin — a 95 percent chance of surviving two hours without losing it all. That takes $165 on 9-6 Jacks, $185 at 8-5 and $195 at 7-5.

Your chances of having a winning session after two hours are 34.54 percent at 9-6, 22.35 percent at 8-5 and 17.19 percent at 7-5. Settling for a 7-5 pay table instead of 9-6 cuts your chances of winning in half.

Then I checked probably the most popular video poker game: Double Double Bonus Poker. With a 9-6 pay table, it’s a 98.98 percent return, $12.75 average loss in two hours, with a $300 bankroll for a 5 percent risk of ruin and a 35.46 percent chance of a winning session. On the 8-5 version that’s become all too common, the payback percentage falls to 96.79 percent, average two-hour loss increases to $40.12, the bankroll requirement rises to $320, and the chance of a winning session drops to 30.75 percent.

Double Double Bonus Poker is the more volatile game, with more of its payback concentrated into relatively rare four-of-a-kind hands. That’s why the bankroll requirements are higher than in Jacks or Better. But in any game, cuts in the pay table slash your chances of winning. Be wary.

John Grochowski is a local freelance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com.



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