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Best of Jerry Stickman

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Video Poker Payback

18 July 2020

While a vast majority of casino players enjoy playing slot machines, most savvy players tend to choose video poker as their casino game.

While the vast majority of video poker players know and understand payback – also called return. Although from casual observation, many seem clueless as to what the term means.

More accurately, many are not even aware of the return of the game they are playing – or what to look for in order to determine the amount of the game’s return.

Simply put, video poker return is just what the word “return” says. It is the amount of money that is “returned” to the player from the money that is played through the machine.

Many players will put a $20 bill in a machine and play until the $20 is gone. They assume the return of the game is zero. If they play until they double their money and cash out, they assume the return of the game is 200 percent.

But that is not how the return of video poker games is determined.

To calculate the return percentage of a specific game and pay table, the probability of each winning hand in the pay table must be calculated. That percentage is then multiplied by the amount paid for the winning hand and then divided by the amount bet.

Example: In a Jacks or Better game where a straight flush is paid 250 for 5, the probability of hitting a straight flush with perfect play is 0.0109 percent. Multiply the probability (0.0109 percent) by the amount paid (250) = 2.725 percent. Divide by the amount bet (5) = 0.545 percent.

This must be done for every winning hand in the pay table. The individual hand returns are then added together and the result is the overall return for the game and pay table.

Here is the information for a 9/6 (9 for 1 for a full house and 6 for 1 for a flush) Jacks or Better game assuming a bet of five credits.

Royal Flush – 4,000 credits, 0.0025 percent probability, 1.9807 percent return

Straight Flush – 250 credits, 0.0109 percent probability, 0.5465 percent return

Four of a Kind – 125 credits, 0.2363 percent probability, 5.9064 percent return

Full House – 45 credits, 1.1512 percent probability, 10.3610 percent return

Flush – 30 credits, 1.1015 percent probability, 6.6087 percent return

Straight – 20 credits, 1.1229 percent probability, 4.4917 percent return

Three of a Kind – 15 credits, 7.4449 percent probability, 22.3346 percent return

Two Pairs – 10 credits, 12.9279 percent probability, 25.8558 percent return

Jacks or Better – 5 credits, 21.4585 percent probability, 21.4585 percent return

Non-Winner – 0 credits, 54.5435 percent probability, 0.0000 percent return

Adding all of the “percent return” numbers gives a total of 99.5439 percent overall return for this specific game and pay table.

This is a very good return percentage. The house will keep less than one half of one percent of the money played through the game in the long run. Not so coincidentally, this game and pay table is getting difficult to find.

This game returns $99.54 of every $100 the player bets.

Keep in mind, however, that the return percentage is in the long run. The long run is hundreds of thousands or even millions of hands. Anything can happen in the short run, but the more hands that are played, the closer the actual return becomes to the mathematical return.

Also keep in mind that the return percentage assumes perfect play. It assumes the cards that are saved from each dealt hand will make the most for the player over the long run.

Near the beginning of this article I stated that players are not aware of what constitutes return or what to look for. I made that comment because far too often I see players sitting at a lower return game when the exact same game with a higher return is right next to them.

Don’t make that mistake. If you are going to play video poker, look at the pay tables. If machines with the same games have different pay tables, play the one that pays more for winning hands. You work hard for your money, don’t throw it away playing a lower return game.

May all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He authored the video poker section of "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker!" You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerry@aol.com
Recent Articles
Best of Jerry Stickman
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com