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Ask the Wizard #77

As you state on your site the house edge in blackjack is very low. Maybe you should increase your bet when the dealer gets 4 or 5 cards, because the cards would likely be small and the next hand would be large card rich?

Tim from Gurnee, Illinois

This is an oversimplified method of counting cards. Better yet survey all the cards on the table. If you see a lot of small cards, especially fives and sixes, and few large cards, especially aces, then raise your bet. If you see the opposite then lower your bet. The fewer the decks the better this will work. Better yet use an actual count system like the ace/five.

I am a student from a very poor home please I will like you to help me with the week draws thanks...

Frank from Benin City, Nigeria

I take it you mean you want lottery numbers. Sorry but I can’t do any better than you can. However I would recommend you not play at all, especially if you are very poor. There seem to be a lot of former generals and dictators over there trying to wire me 17 million dollars, maybe one of them will give you a scholarship.

Please help me understand the logic in Jacks or better, why off suit A-J it’s better to hold K-J @$2.4172063 expected return and A-K is $2.3382688. It seems that they both should be the same. Thanks.

Larry from Fishers, USA

There are two spreads for forming a straight with K/J (AKQJT and KQJT9) and only one spread with A/J (AKQJT).

How do you get the number 4,324 combinations for a Royal Flush playing Seven Card Stud? Also, can you recommend a good book that explains how to perform these calculations?


There are 4 suits for the royal and 47*46/2 = 1081 ways to arrange the other two cards. 4*1081 = 4324. The other hands get much messier. I had to use a computer to play through all 133,784,560 ways to choose 7 cards out of 52. Sorry, can’t recommend a book either.

Here is what I was wondering. I found a few new video poker machines with what I consider to be a non-usual paytable. Can you tell me what you think about these tables, and if they should be played or not. No royal bonus for 5 coins bet (simply 2,500 for royal on 5 coins)

Jacks or better
Royal 500
St8 flush 50
4 of kind 25
Full Hse 10
Flush 6
Straight 4
Thee Kind 3
two pair 2
Jacks + 1

Aces and Eights
Royal Fl 500
Str Flus 50
4 Ace/8s 80
4 7s 50
Four knd 25
Full Hse 8
Flush 5
Straight 4
3 Kind 3
Two Pair 2
Jacks+ 1

Deuces Wild Poker
Royal Flush 500
4 Deuces 200
Wild Royal 25
5 of Kind 16
St8 Flush 10
Four Kind 4
Full House 4
Flush 3
Straight 2
Three Kind 1

Joker Poker (1 Joker)
Royal Flush 500
Wild Royal 100
5 of a Kind 50
Straight Fl 25
Four Kind 8
Full Hse 5
Flush 4
Straight 3
Three Kind 2
Two Pair 1

Tens or better Poker
Royal Flush 500
Straight Fl 50
4 of a Kind 25
Full House 10
Flush 6
Straight 4
3 of a Kind 3
Two Pair 2
Tens+ 1

Again all of these have no bonuses for max coins in Royal Flush. Is that enough to hurt these pay tables, or are they playable? (they seem decent at least) Thank you in advance Micheal.

Chris (recent convert to video poker)

Here are the returns based on optimal strategy:

Jacks or Better: 100.03%
Aces and Eights: 99.07%
Deuces Wild: 99.05%
Joker Poker: 70.23%
Tens or Better: 104.13%!

I would verify that Tens or Better pay table and if you wrote it down correctly then play it hard.