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Sep

20

2017

Winning the Most Hands Does Not Always Win the Most Money

A play that will win the most hands isn’t always the play that will win the most money.

That’s a point I’ve made often with even-money in blackjack. Those who take even money when they have blackjack and the dealer has an Ace will win more hands, but over time those who play out the hand to go for the 3-2 pay on blackjacks will win more money.

I was asked recently if there are other games where it’s better to make plays to win less often because they win more money.

Video poker immediately came to mind. One example is the choice between holding a low par or a high card. Holding the high card will bring more winners because of the frequency of high pairs. But you’ll win more money if you hold the low pair.

Let’s use 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker as an example, assuming a five-coin bet and with a starting hand of 6-6-7-9-King.

If we hold just the King, there are 178,365 possible draws, and 118,540 of them will bring no return.

Of the winners, 45,324 will be pairs of Jacks or better paying five coins for your five-coin bet, 9,033 will be two pairs paying five, 4,177 will be three of a kind paying 15, 446 will be straights paying 20, 493 will be flushes paying 30, 297 will be full houses paying 45, 49 will be four 5s through Kings paying 250, three will be four 2s, 3s or 4s paying 400, one will be four Aces paying 800, one will be a King-high straight flush paying 250 and one will be a royal flush paying 4,000.

Overall, you’ll win on 33.5 percent of hands and the average payback per hand, including all the losers, will be 2.2 coin.

What if you hold the 6s instead? Then there are 16,125 possible draws, with 11,559 losers. Of the winners, there are 2,592 two-pair hands, 1,854 three of a kinds, 165 full houses and 45 flushes.

You win on only 28.3 percent of the draws, but your average return rises to 3.7 coins.

Just as with declining insurance in blackjack, players who get the most out of the game choose the play that wins less often.

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