Saturday, April 29, 2006

How I played 84,299 hands of Video Poker "on the house" (and finally hit a Royal Flush)

Introduction - On January 28th, I signed up and deposited at There was a $300 sign-up bonus at the time, and I set to work playing 25-cent Jacks or Better video poker with it. I played around 6000 hands that day and my balance dipped by about $100. The next morning I got busy again, and less than an hour into it I hit my first Royal Flush for a $1000 payout.

A week later, I was casually playing Bonus Poker at another casino and ended up hitting another Royal Flush.

That's it - I was hooked! It was too easy, and I was on a lucky streak. I came up with a plan and a mission to keep playing video poker until I hit another Royal Flush using casino bonuses. Even if the luck ran out, the bonuses would give me a chance to ride it out.

The Premise - Video Poker (VP) has a low House Advantage (HA). For example, the return on a Jacks or Better game with the full-pay paytable is about 99.54%, which is about even with blackjack and much better than a slot machine. Unlike blackjack, though, VP players get the excitement of trying for a sizeable jackpot (a $1.25 bet returns $1000 for a Royal Flush, the odds of hitting a Royal Flush are approximately 1 in 40,000).

So I came up with a plan to play video poker as much as possible until I hit another Royal Flush. This was not only going to be fun, but I also hoped to make a little profit when I eventually hit the jackpot. In order to make up for any bad sessions and to extend my play on a very limited bankroll, I decided to use as many casino bonuses as possible. I kept track of various statistics and all of the ups and downs of my bankroll throughout the process.

The Casinos - I ended up playing at 35 different casinos. I researched these casinos on the internet, and avoided any that had received negative reviews. Online casinos typically offer a sign-up bonus for new customers amounting to 50-150% of your initial deposit. Some bonuses were larger, and I played at a few casinos without a bonus too. When I won, I was able to cashout from the casinos without hassles, and the games seemed fair (see results and statistics below).

The Results - It took me over 84,000 hands to land a Royal Flush (RF). The odds for getting a RF are approximately 1 in 40,000, so that was a bit disappointing. But if you count the two I hit before starting the experiment, I actually hit three in just over 90,000 hands, which is very good. I hit 4-of-a-kinds and straight flushes with reasonable frequency as well.

The experiment stretched over 35 days, during which I played at 35 different online casinos. In the end I showed a net profit of $1202.00.

Bonuses played a big part in my success, because the added starting bankrolls extended my playing time considerably. The only downside to accepting the bonuses is that you must fulfill a certain level of play before you are able to withdraw. So for example, when you hit a nice win early, you have to keep risking your winnings until the bonus' wagering requirement has been met. This was not a big concern since I was in it for the long haul, and I had no problems withdrawing at any casino after having met the wagering requirements.

I have summarized the results in the table below. For a more detailed, casino-by-casino account, please see the this table on my website.

Summary of results:

Number of casinos played at: 35

Dates played: February 22nd -> March 28th

Average deposit: $73.30

Total value of bonuses: $2,790.00

Hands played: 84,299

4 of a kinds: 199 (odds: 1/424; actual: 1 per 424)

Straight flushes: 9 (odds: 1/9090; actual 1 per 9367)

Royal flushes: 1

Total profits: $1202

see the full resultsClick here to see casino-by-casino results

Acknowlegements - I would first like to thank the casinos for the great bonus offers, for running fair games, and for prompt payments of winnings. Thanks also to Casinomeister for listing accredited casinos as well as Casinomeister forum members for their straightforward opinions on good and bad online casinos.


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