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Royal Flush Odds

Dear Mark,
A slot attendant told me that a particular video poker machine has not hit in over six months. You have stated in the past that the chances of hitting a royal are about 40,000 to one. My guess is that this machine has probably seen more than 40,000 plays over that period. Wouldn't it be logical to assume that the machine is now due to hit a royal? -Karen K.

True, Karen, I did state that the odds of a royal flush occurring are once per 40,000 plays, but I never said that a machine will hit once every 40,000 hands. No matter how long it has been since that machine has paid a jackpot, the random number generator used to shuffle the cards has no memory. It does not know Karen needs a quick score to pay the rent. So, the probability of a royal flush on each and every hand remains the same; ALWAYS 40,000 to one.

Like all slots, video poker machines do run hot and cold, but there is no way you, me, a slot attendant, or even the casino owner knows when a royal will appear next.

Dear Mark,
I gamble in one of three places: The South where I live, Biloxi and Shreveport, and where my daughter resides, Reno, Nevada. I limit my play to only video poker. Though my playing style stays consistent, it seems I am luckier in Reno than the casinos here in the South. My question is this. Is it possible that the video poker machines are not truly random here in the South, but instead, biased that high cards come up less often than expected? - Marty C.

A few quick thoughts, Marty, before I answer your question regarding biased machines.

First, because you most likely play less often in Reno, your gambling timeline is shorter. Shorten your exposure in front of any machine, anything can happen, including winning more.

Also, you did not mention that the paytables were the same in all three gaming jurisdictions. Quite possibly, you are playing on machines that have a better paytable in Reno. Get back to me, Marty, on that one.

As for machines being set so high cards appear less frequent, you might find those kind of shenanigans in foreign casinos, cruise ships, online, etc, but where you play, Mississippi, Louisiana and Nevada, regulations mandate that every unseen card in video poker must have an equal probability of appearing just as if the cards were being dealt by a well shuffled deck.

Dear Mark,
I received some e-mail for a slot system based on cycling. Do you know anything about it? Is it worth the money? - Jan F.

The seller hawking this stygian system believes that slot machine combinations are programmed to go through a cycle. At the end of each cycle, combinations will repeat themselves in the exact same order. SAVE YOUR MONEY, Jan. Each combination is random and independent of past ones.

Speaking of combinations, some progressive machines can have 16,777,216 possible outcomes. I recommend bringing a sack lunch to any ninny who plans to record every one of them.

Gambling Quotes

  • "Life is a gamble, like crossing the road. One day chicken, next day feathers."- Unknown

  • "Having an ATM in a casino is like having a lap-dancer at a Hell's Angels Convention. - McAvoy Layne

  • "Gambling has held human beings in thrall for millennia. It has been engaged in everywhere, from the dregs of society to the most respectable circles."- Peter L. Bernstein

  • Besides lovemaking and singing in the shower, there aren't many human activities where there is a greater difference between a person's self-delusional ability and actual ability than in poker.- Steve Badget

  • "Betting is the only moral thing you can do. It is an intellectual pursuit, as good as The Times crossword. For millions, it is the only uninfluenced democratic decision they take."- Lord Wyatt

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