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Right place, wrong timing

Dear Mark,
Recently I got my first royal flush. That was the good news. The bad news is I only had two coins in it when it hit. Would I have still gotten a royal flush had I inserted the maximum amount of coins? Jennifer G.

No, but not for the reason you're probably thinking. Many, many players believe that video poker machines are programmed to avoid a royal flush because the maximum amount of coins was inserted. As stated many times in this column, machines do not operate with artificial intelligence programmed to hit royals when you have less than the maximum amount of coins in the machine.

The reason you would have received a different hand, Jennifer, is because in the short amount of time it would have taken to insert the additional coins you didn't play, the machine's random number generator (RNG) would have cycled to another outcome. A video poker machines RNG will typically continue to crunch those 1s and 0s until you hit the deal button. As many as a million hands per minute. So unless you pushed the deal button at the correct millisecond, Jennifer, no, the proverbial royal flush with five coins inserted would not have appeared.

Dear Mark,
If black appeared six times in a row on a roulette table, which way should I wager on the seventh spin, black or red? Jim D.

Many self-proclaimed experts believe they can find trends in roulette by watching the wheel. For that reason, over the years I've facetiously asked them the following question: Black has appeared on a non-biased roulette wheel 30 straight times. Which way should you place your next bet? Would you a) bet black because of the established streak, B) bet red because it's way overdue or C) not wager.

Well, Jim, the first two answers are right as well as wrong. No amount of past history on a random non-biased wheel guarantees the outcome of the next spin. Each spin is an independent event, and the law of averages does not apply to any one desultory spin.

But Deal Me In readers know the answer I'm looking for is C. They know that over the long run their losses will be 5.26%. This casino edge is a tad bit too high for the readership of this column.

Dear Mark,
What are your thoughts about the blackjack game where you see the dealer's hole card in advance? Vince R.

Stick with the old tried and true, Vince. This form of blackjack is not worth playing. Because you lose pushes and only receive even money on blackjacks, the house edge is 2% higher than normal blackjack.

Dear Mark,
Which is a better wager on a crap game? An "any craps" bet or a "craps-eleven" bet? Gary A.

NEITHER, with one exception. Your dial-a-psychic is accurate 100% of the time.

An "any craps" bet is wagering that 2, 3, or 12 will be the result of the next roll. With a payoff of 7 to 1, the house edge is 11.1%. A "craps-eleven," or "horn" bet as it's typically called, is a bet on the next roll that the 2, 3, 11, or 12 will appear. If any other number rolls, you lose. Though the payoff varies from casino to casino, the house edge on a horn bet is always more than 12%. A piratical house advantage if ever there was one.

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