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Last Updated: November 2, 2015

American Poker

Introduction





"American Poker" is perhaps the biggest misnomer in gambling. It is a form of video poker played not in the United States but, instead, in Germany. Why they call it "American Poker" I have no idea.

What separates American Poker from conventional video poker is the player must pay for both the deal and draw (if made) but is paid for his final hand only. The player may choose to decline the draw and in doing so will not have to double his bet.

These rules should not be confused with Double Pay Poker, where the player is paid for both the deal and draw. In American Poker, the player is paid based on the draw only, if made, and the deal only if the draw is declined.

Perhaps a good comparison is to blackjack where the only options are to stand or double. However, instead of getting another card, the player must exchange at least one card.

In all known examples of American Poker found in land casinos, the game is based on a 53-card Joker Poker game.

Another interesting feature is that the game sometimes features a progressive "jackpot" for a pair of queens on the deal. If the player improves his hand on the draw, then he is paid based on the final hand only.

Finally, I wish to emphasize that American Poker is gaffed to conform to German gaming laws that set maximum win and loss limits per hour of play. How the games, made by Novomatic, are programmed exactly, I do not know. The analysis in this page incorrectly assumes each card is independent with the same chances. The high player advantages of about 40% per initial bet should also be evidence that the games are gaffed against the player.



Rules



The following are the general rules for American Poker.

  1. Play shall start with the player making a wager and receiving five cards.
  2. If the player chooses to hold at least one card, then he will automatically make another wager equal to his initial wager and shall receive replacement cards as in conventional video poker.
  3. If the player holds no cards and presses the "draw" button, then the game shall score the player's hand on the draw and not charge the player an additional wager. However, it will be assumed the player wishes to play another hand and will immediately start a new game.
  4. All wins are based on the initial bet only.
  5. Many games have a "mini bonus." This is incremented by the initial bet amount for every pair of jacks, kings, or aces. It is won on a pair of queens on the deal. If the player improves his hand on the draw, then he is paid based on the final hand only. Based on just one game found in Berlin, it starts at five bets and reaches a maximum at 20 bets.
  6. There is an auto-hold feature, that gives very dubious advice at times.
  7. It is common to have a double or nothing feature based on predicting whether a random card is red or black.
  8. To make matters more confusing, the player doesn't have just one credit meter, but two. It is my understanding that the initial buy-in will go into the "geldspeicher." Any win will go into a second meter called the "punkte-bank." Bets made shall first come out of the punkte-bank but if that is zero, then the geldspeicher. Some machines may have ways to move credits back and forth between the two meters or it can happen automatically. However, none of this really matters. I have no idea why they need two meters.


As stated in the introduction, the game is gaffed to meet German gaming laws so I wouldn't take the rules too seriously, which don't even appear anywhere on the machines.


The small print translates to, "The probabilites of the cards are adjusted in favor of higher winnings and the second deal requires an additional bet." I think they mean "higher winnings" for the casino.


Analysis



I had to pause and consider how I wanted to present my analysis of this game. Normally, with video poker games, I show what the player can expect to get back for his bet. In other words, I express everything on a "for one" basis, because the player doesn't get his original bet back on a win, as he does with most table games.

However, in this case the player can do worse than lose just his original bet. He might pay for a draw and still have nothing, resulting in a two-unit loss. Never once have I listed a negative pay in a return table based on a "for one" basis. I think doing so would confuse the reader.

After much thought, I decided to treat it like a table game and show the probability of every net win or loss. I also indicate whether the player accepted the draw or not. Note that the win for any given hand is one unit less if the player accepted a draw as opposed to getting it on the deal and declining the draw. That said, the return tables below show the probability and contribution to the return of every possible outcome.

As I wrote in the rules, American Poker is gaffed and does not conform to the Nevada law that every card must have the same chance of being dealt, as if a human being were fairly dealing the game. However, I did not know this at the time I wrote my program to analyze the game. So, please don't run out and buy a plane ticket to Germany after reading these tables. The games are gaffed and you will lose on them.

Jacks or Better with Joker



The following analysis is based on the the pay table pictured below. What characterizes this pay table is that a pair of jacks is an automatic winner as opposed to having a "mini bonus." This game and pay table were seen at two separate casinos in Berlin.



Jacks or Better with Joker

Hand Draw Pays Combinations Probability Return
Five of a kind No 999 111,299,760 0.000005 0.004526
Five of a kind Yes 998 2,136,956,580 0.000087 0.086804
Natural royal flush No 499 34,246,080 0.000001 0.000696
Wild royal flush No 499 171,230,400 0.000007 0.003478
Natural royal flush Yes 498 430,717,320 0.000018 0.008730
Wild royal flush Yes 498 2,047,256,640 0.000083 0.041497
Straight flush No 199 1,541,073,600 0.000063 0.012482
Straight flush Yes 198 14,793,436,020 0.000602 0.119220
Four of a kind No 49 - 0.000000 0.000000
Four of a kind Yes 48 201,160,452,240 0.008188 0.393006
Full house No 11 56,095,079,040 0.002283 0.025115
Full house Yes 10 200,079,366,300 0.008144 0.081436
Flush No 8 44,006,212,800 0.001791 0.014329
Flush Yes 7 260,199,539,160 0.010591 0.074134
Straight No 6 153,799,145,280 0.006260 0.037560
Straight Yes 5 228,436,655,040 0.009298 0.046489
Three of a kind No 4 - 0.000000 0.000000
Three of a kind Yes 3 2,899,689,705,000 0.118023 0.354069
Two pair No 2 1,057,792,919,040 0.043054 0.086108
Two pair Yes 1 1,396,955,264,760 0.056859 0.056859
Jacks or better No 0 - 0.000000 0.000000
Nothing No -1 8,910,693,031,680 0.362682 -0.362682
Jacks or better Yes -1 2,954,723,482,260 0.120263 -0.120263
Nothing Yes -2 6,183,968,452,200 0.251699 -0.503399
Total 24,568,865,521,200 1.000000 0.460193


The bottom right cell shows an expected win of 0.46 units per deal. In other words, a player advantage of 46% relative to a single bet. The player will make the raise bet 58.4% of the time, which means an average final bet of 1.58 units, for a player advantage of 29.06% relative to the total amount bet.

Mini Jackpot



The following analysis is based on the pay table pictured below. What characterizes this pay table is the "Mini Bonus." For every pair of jacks or better on the draw, the Mini Bonus goes up by one initial bet. It is won by obtaining a pair of queens on the deal that does not improve on the draw. The Mini Bonus starts out at five credits and reaches a maximum of 20 credits.

The math would get very complicated factoring in these minimum and maximum values of the Mini Bonus. To keep things fairly simple, the following table does not factor in these starting and maximum values of the Mini Bonus, but instead assumes it starts at zero and has no maximum.



Mini Jackpot

Hand Draw Pays Combinations Probability Return
Five of a kind (on deal) No 599 111,299,760 0.000005 0.002714
Five of a kind (on draw) Yes 598 2,156,320,980 0.000088 0.052484
Royal flush (on deal) No 299 205,476,480 0.000008 0.002501
Royal flush (on draw) Yes 298 2,105,868,600 0.000086 0.025542
Straight flush (on deal) No 79 1,541,073,600 0.000063 0.004955
Straight flush (on draw) Yes 78 10,671,522,840 0.000434 0.033879
Four of a kind (on deal) No 39 - 0.000000 0.000000
Four of a kind (on draw) Yes 38 202,548,523,320 0.008244 0.313276
Full house (on deal) No 11 56,095,079,040 0.002283 0.025115
Full house (on draw) Yes 10 201,150,633,420 0.008187 0.081872
Flush (on deal) No 8 61,505,959,680 0.002503 0.020027
Flush (on draw) Yes 7 261,703,880,460 0.010652 0.074563
Straight (on deal) No 6 164,483,922,240 0.006695 0.040169
Straight (on draw) Yes 5 222,224,357,520 0.009045 0.045225
Three of a kind (on deal) No 4 - 0.000000 0.000000
Three of a kind (on draw) Yes 3 2,898,410,644,800 0.117971 0.353913
Two pair (on deal) No 2 1,057,792,919,040 0.043054 0.086108
Two pair (on draw) Yes 1 1,390,659,613,200 0.056603 0.056603
Jacks or better (on deal) No 0 - 0.000000 0.000000
Nothing (on deal) No -1 9,413,288,501,760 0.383139 -0.383139
Jacks or better (on draw) Yes -1 2,856,723,239,700 0.116274 -0.116274
Nothing (on draw) Yes -2 5,765,486,684,760 0.234666 -0.469333
Total 24,568,865,521,200 1.000000 0.250201


The bottom right cell shows an expected win of 0.25 units per deal. In other words, a player advantage of 25% relative to a single bet. Again, this does not consider the seed value nor the maximum value of the Mini Bonus. I roughly estimate that adds 15% to the return to the game, for a total of 40% relative to the initial wager.

The player will make the raise bet 56.2% of the time, which means an average final bet of 1.56 units, for a player advantage of 25.6% relative to the total amount bet.

Wazdan Joker Poker Game




Joker Poker game by Wazdan software.


The following return table is for the game titled "Joker Poker" by Wazdan software.

Joker Poker — Wazdan Pay Table

Hand Draw Pays Combinations Probability Return
Natural royal flush No 999 34,246,080 0.000001 0.001392
Five of a kind No 499 111,299,760 0.000005 0.002261
Wild royal flush No 799 171,230,400 0.000007 0.005569
Straight flush No 199 1,541,073,600 0.000063 0.012482
Four of a kind No 49 - 0.000000 0.000000
Full house No 12 56,095,079,040 0.002283 0.027398
Flush No 9 50,204,753,280 0.002043 0.018391
Straight No 7 153,799,145,280 0.006260 0.043819
Three of a kind No 3 - 0.000000 0.000000
Two pair No 1 - 0.000000 0.000000
Loser No -1 9,217,880,369,280 0.375185 -0.375185
Natural royal flush Yes 998 468,970,920 0.000019 0.019050
Five of a kind Yes 498 2,112,425,568 0.000086 0.042818
Wild royal flush Yes 798 2,079,453,024 0.000085 0.067541
Straight flush Yes 198 15,019,701,180 0.000611 0.121043
Four of a kind Yes 48 197,472,847,968 0.008038 0.385801
Full house Yes 11 304,129,202,256 0.012379 0.136165
Flush Yes 8 289,002,592,296 0.011763 0.094104
Straight Yes 6 249,735,770,064 0.010165 0.060988
Three of a kind Yes 2 2,828,957,559,516 0.115144 0.230288
Two pair Yes 0 2,286,802,572,120 0.093077 0.000000
Loser Yes -2 8,913,247,229,568 0.362786 -0.725573
Total 24,568,865,521,200 1.000000 0.168353


The bottom right cell shows an expected win of 0.168353 units per deal. In other words, a player advantage of 16.8% relative to a single bet. The player will make the raise bet 61.4% of the time, for a player advantage of 10.43% relative to the total amount bet.

Before you clear out your bank account to play this game, please be warned that no casino using this software is endorsed by the Wizard of Odds and it is probably gaffed, like the machines in land-based casinos in Germany.


Rules as explained by Wazdan software.


American Poker V




American Poker Gold



American Poker V by Wazdan software.


The following return table is for the game titled "American Poker V" by Wazdan software. It contains a strange rule that royal flushes must contain a natural ace. This leaves me wondering how 10-J-Q-K-Joker would be scored. I assume it pays the same as a straight flush, but I list it separately in the return table.

Joker Poker — American Poker V Pay Table

Hand Draw Pays Combinations Probability Return
Five of a kind No 799 111,299,760 0.000005 0.003620
Five of a kind Yes 798 2,149,209,612 0.000087 0.069807
Royal flush (must have ace) No 399 171,230,400 0.000007 0.002781
Royal flush (must have ace) Yes 398 1,684,772,232 0.000069 0.027292
Royal flush (no ace) No 99 34,246,080 0.000001 0.000138
Straight flush No 99 1,541,073,600 0.000063 0.006210
Royal flush (no ace) Yes 98 350,507,784 0.000014 0.001398
Straight flush Yes 98 10,651,750,560 0.000434 0.042488
Four of a kind No 39 - 0.000000 0.000000
Four of a kind Yes 38 201,625,309,512 0.008207 0.311848
Full house No 11 56,095,079,040 0.002283 0.025115
Full house Yes 10 199,819,144,404 0.008133 0.081330
Flush No 8 61,505,959,680 0.002503 0.020027
Flush Yes 7 264,260,334,624 0.010756 0.075291
Straight No 6 162,840,110,400 0.006628 0.039767
Straight Yes 5 234,359,764,056 0.009539 0.047694
Three of a kind No 4 - 0.000000 0.000000
Three of a kind Yes 3 2,879,119,037,124 0.117186 0.351557
Two pair No 2 1,057,792,919,040 0.043054 0.086108
Two pair Yes 1 1,373,688,272,880 0.055912 0.055912
Jacks or better No -1 - 0.000000 0.000000
Nothing No -1 9,611,162,352,000 0.391193 -0.391193
Jacks or better Yes -2 2,694,088,333,992 0.109655 -0.219309
Nothing Yes -2 5,755,814,814,420 0.234273 -0.468545
Total 24,568,865,521,200 1.000000 0.169337


The bottom right cell shows an expected win of 0.169337 units per deal. In other words, a player advantage of 16.9% relative to a single bet. The player will make the raise bet 55.4% of the time, for a player advantage of 10.895% relative to the total amount bet.

There is also a "Mini Bonus" feature. Every time the player gets a pair of jacks to aces a meter increases by one coin. When the meter reaches 100, the player gets the 100 coins and the meter resets. I do not know what value the meter starts at. Assuming the meter starts at zero and no strategy deviations, I show this rule should increase the return per initial hand by 0.11%.

As stated under Wazdan's Joker Poker game, please be warned that no casino using this software is endorsed by the Wizard of Odds.

Wazdan American Poker Gold




American Poker Gold


The following return table is for the game titled "American Poker Gold" by Wazdan software. It also contains the strange rule that royal flushes must contain a natural ace. As with American Poker V, I assume they pay the same as a straight flush.

Joker Poker — American Poker Gold Pay Table

Hand Draw Pays Combinations Probability Return
Five of a kind No 999 111,299,760 0.000005 0.004526
Five of a kind Yes 998 2,120,496,840 0.000086 0.086136
Royal flush (with ace) No 599 171,230,400 0.000007 0.004175
Royal flush (with ace) Yes 598 2,178,876,480 0.000089 0.053033
Royal flush (no ace) No 199 34,246,080 0.000001 0.000277
Straight flush No 199 1,541,073,600 0.000063 0.012482
Royal flush (no ace) Yes 198 415,402,680 0.000017 0.003348
Straight flush Yes 198 14,665,162,380 0.000597 0.118186
Four of a kind No 49 - 0.000000 0.000000
Four of a kind Yes 48 198,759,747,780 0.008090 0.388315
Full house No 14 56,095,079,040 0.002283 0.031964
Full house Yes 13 306,010,213,740 0.012455 0.161918
Flush No 9 50,204,753,280 0.002043 0.018391
Flush Yes 8 298,478,169,660 0.012149 0.097189
Straight No 4 153,799,145,280 0.006260 0.025040
Straight Yes 3 156,985,624,620 0.006390 0.019169
Three of a kind No 2 - 0.000000 0.000000
Two pair No 1 - 0.000000 0.000000
Three of a kind Yes 1 2,845,545,339,780 0.115819 0.115819
Jacks or better No 0 - 0.000000 0.000000
Two pair Yes 0 2,293,146,385,200 0.093335 0.000000
Nothing No -1 9,498,047,549,760 0.386589 -0.386589
Jacks or better Yes -1 2,827,089,771,660 0.115068 -0.115068
Nothing Yes -2 5,863,465,953,180 0.238654 -0.477309
Total 24,568,865,521,200 1.000000 0.161003


The bottom right cell shows an expected win of 0.161 units per deal. In other words, a player advantage of 16.1% relative to a single bet. The player will make the raise bet 60.3% of the time, for a player advantage of 10.0% relative to the total amount bet.

Let me repeat that no casino using this software is endorsed by the Wizard of Odds.

Where to Play




Where is the volcano?


Finding American Poker in Germany should not be too difficult. I found it at both the Mirage Casino and the Spielbank Casino in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Generally speaking, any large German city should have small slots-only casinos scattered about the city and one or two full-blown casinos with table games. You may find American Poker on a multi-play machine, so look carefully.


Note my bicycle out front.




Turbo Poker — This is a 52-card game based on the German rules.





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Written by: Michael Shackleford