Many casinos on the Strip in Vegas will make one modification to the payoff table: they will pay 45 for a full house, not 50. This does not affect the strategy, but it does affect the return of the game significantly–1.11% more for the casino. If I am playing one of these games, I have been known to do something that some people might find silly: if I hit a full house, I will pay myself the missing 5 coins. (Like many people, I keep my gambling money separate from my regular cash.) After an hour, this might mean I will have transferred $7 or $8 into the gambling funds. This helps remind me how small a 1% difference in return really makes, at least in the short haul. Compared to whether or not I have been lucky or unlucky in the session, the $7 or $8 seems almost inconsequential. Nonetheless, all of us who write about video poker–and I may be the worst offender–sweat over percentages that are much smaller. For example, I re-did my Double Bonus strategy because my first version had an error of 0.03%. I mention this only to help you keep a sense of perspective on this whole thing. The purpose is to have fun, not berate yourself for every mistake.
Special Promotional Payoffs
Sometimes casinos will offer special promotions where they give extra payoffs on video poker hands. These can be quite imaginative:
A box of chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts with each natural four-of-a-kind.
A “card of the day”, where you get an extra $25 for a natural four-of-a-kind in that card.
50,000 coins (instead of 4,000) if your royal flush is in sequential order left-to-right or right-to-left.
Double payoffs on bonus machines for four aces, between 12:00 and 2:00 am.
Are these worth anything? Remember, you are asking that of someone who advocates joining a slot club for the extra 0.2% return it offers. Of course they are worth something; look for them. Are they worth enough so you can quit your day job? No.
Actually, if you are mathematically inclined, it is usually fairly easy to estimate the minimum value of promotions like these. For example, take the sequential royal flush promotion. The number of different ways you can order five things is 5*4*3*3*1 or 120 ways, so there are 120 different royal flush orders. Two of these are sequential. Thus, 1 out of 60 royal flushes will gain you the 50,000 coins. Thus you could estimate that the royal flush payout is actually increased to (50000 + 4000*59) / 60 or 4767 coins. For any game, you can use my tables to look up how much of your total return is from the royal flush payoff, and increase that by 4767/4000. You will get a figure 0.3-0.4%.
But this is a minimum, because it assumes you do not adjust your IDN Poker playing strategy for the promotional payoff. Playing slightly differently will nudge up the return a bit. So how should you adapt your play? You can pretty much be guaranteed that radical departures from your normal play is not a good idea. However, you can sometimes “hand calculate” some minor modifications. Again using the sequential royal flush example, you can observe that if you have four royal flush cards in the right place, your chance of drawing the fifth is 1 out of 47. Thus this hand is worth 50000/47=1067 coins, not even counting all the chances at flushes, straights, etc. that you have. Thus, if you had a wild royal flush with deuces, worth 125 coins, discarding the single deuce should be a no-brainer if you could make a sequential royal flush.
If you have three of the royal flush cards in the right place, your chance of filling them in is 1 out of 47*46=2162. (You also have a 1 in 2162 chance of getting them in the other order, for a normal royal flush.) You conclude that the promotional payoff is worth 50000/2162=23 coins for this hand. Thus you would break a pat straight in jacks-or-better (20 coins) to draw for the sequential royal. It turns out you break up a flush (30 coins), too, but that is a close call.
But enough calculations. The point is that these casino promotions are are like slot clubs: they are worth looking for for the additional (albeit small) extra return they give. This is true even if you do not bother to change the way you play. However, if you are able to figure out some small adjustments to your play on your own; so much the better.