While not many players truly understand the meaning of expected value, those who are experts in video poker are familiar with this term and know how to estimate it. The expected value can be defined as the average return one can anticipate receiving when holding a certain hand. Once you become interested in playing video poker successfully, you will also come across the term expected return.
If you really want to enjoy a fruitful gambling experience, you cannot simply rely on luck but rather you have to make decisions which will change the outcome of the game. Since it is not always easy to decide which cards to hold and which ones to discard, you must be aware of the expected value and expected return for each winning hand. This will help you decide what type of action is best to be made before the second draw in video poker.
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Back in the days, mathematicians who were interested in gambling did spend a lot of time calculating the different probabilities that apply to all winning hands in video poker. While it was tough enough making calculations with 52 regular cards, introducing jokers and turning the deuces into wilds made everything even more complicated. What made the process even more difficult were the different payouts that were introduced in order to give casinos a bigger advantage.
Nowadays, although calculating the expected return and expected value does involve some math, it is definitely a great advantage to know how to make these estimations as they will help you not only to understand what profit to expect but will also allow you to compare different strategies and the value they will bring.
Understanding the Expected Value and How to Calculate It
We can define the expected value as a combination of the value you will get from the results (wins or losses) and the odds of how often will a certain outcome happen. You will notice that the payout for the various hands in video poker depends on how difficult the forming of every hand is.
Whenever you are holding a certain hand of five cards, there are a few things to consider when evaluating which winning combination is worth pursuing. The first thing is to pay attention to the exact video poker variation you are playing. For instance, you might be playing a 9/6 Jacks or Better which is the most popular video poker variation among casino fans. It offers a payout of 9 to 1 for a Full House and 6 to 1 for a Flush.
In order to determine the value of a certain hand, we simply multiply the frequency of winning times the payout for the certain hand. If you happen to draw a certain hand on the initial deal, the possibility to win is definite and is expressed as 100% or 1.0 which can be used for estimating the value of a hand. Let us say that the value of an already made Flush is 1.0 and you multiply it times 6 and you will get the expected value of $6.
Having an already made hand, however, is pretty difficult to be achieved. This being said, you can use the same formula to calculate the value of a hand that is not formed on the first draw. All you need is to multiply the probability to win with the hand you are holding, times the payout for the specific hand.
The aforementioned evaluations are what is known as calculating the expected value (EV) of the specific hand. Thanks to this process, players have the chance to compare the value of one poker hand with the value of another.
Expected Value Additional TipsIf you, for example, draw a hand which looks along the lines of 10h-Ah-Jh-2h-2d and you are looking for the optimal move. There are several hands you can form in this situation and you can decide on which one is the best by comparing their values. If you hold the pair of 2s, then the value of the hand is estimated to be $0.82. On the other hand, if you are hoping for a Royal Flush and keep the 10, Ace and the Jack, then the value of the hand will be $1.32. There is, however, another option which is to hold the four cards if the same suit and hope for a Flush. In the third scenario, the value of the hand is estimated to be $1.28.
By comparing the values, you can see that the wisest choice is to hold the 10, the Ace and the Jack. Although you might think that the value of the second option is better due to the fact that you might form a Royal Flush, there is a lot more to the value of keeping these 3 cards. In reality, there is only one way to have a Royal Flush by keeping the 10, the Ace and the Jack. However, there are estimated to be 1,081 other combinations of two cards that can replace the pair of 2s. This means that the three cards will give you more chances to form other winning hands, in addition to the single opportunity of a Royal Flush. This is where the true value of this hand is hidden and why it is the smartest choice from all of the three.
What is Expected Return in Video Poker and How to Calculate It
A way to describe the expected return is as the average profit you should anticipate receiving over a long time, provided you have made a certain decision. The same also applies for video poker when you expect a certain payout whenever you hold or discard certain cards. You may be confused about what is the difference between expected return and expected value. Simply said, you will need to know the expected value in order to be able to calculate the expected return.
As we had already discussed several times, using the proper strategy is very important when playing video poker. If you want to know which strategy is the ultimate one, we can simply say it is the one that will offer the best payout for the long run, i.e. it has the best expected return. This being said, you should not be fooled that you will win every single hand if you use the perfect video poker strategy. However, provided you know what you are doing, you can expect a very fruitful game in the long run.
If you are holding a hand of four cards of the same suit and the fifth one being of a different one on Jacks or Better, there are a few possibilities for the outcome. In the standard 52-card deck, there are 13 cards of each suit and since you have already drawn 4 of the same suit, this will leave 9 cards in the deck which can help the player to form a Flush. If you subtract the five cards of your hand in the 52 cards of the deck and you will get 47. This will mean that your odds of forming a Flush on the second draw of the game are 9/47. If you have come across a full-pay version of Jacks or Better, the payout for a Flush will be 6 credits for a single stake. If you want to calculate the expected return, you should multiply 9/47 by 6 which will equal 114.8% or approximately 115%.
Expected Return Additional TipsWhen we are discussing the expected return, we cannot miss mentioning payback percentage. Simply put, this is the money you should expect receiving from playing video poker, or any other casino game for that matter, for an extended period of time. For instance, if you see a game that has a payback percentage of 92%, then this would mean that players will enjoy a return of 92% in the long run and the casino will keep the remaining 8%. This being said, you should be reasonable and realize that there is no way to win $92 on every $100 you stake. However, if you play with the perfect strategy for a long period of time, you should enjoy this payback.
If you take a look at strategy cards, you will come across the expected return for the different possible moves when you have drawn the hand from the aforementioned example. Naturally, when using a strategy, you should make the decision which offers the highest possible expected return.
Video Poker Calculators
When you play video poker, on the first deal every possible combination of five cards that you are dealt initially, provides an ultimate payout you can receive. And while back in the days it was rather complicated to calculate all the possibilities, nowadays there are different calculators and software that can help players estimate the expected return.
If you are determined to become an expert on video poker and always be aware of the expected return for every possible move, you can use various online calculators. All that you need to know when using it is the payouts that the game is offering and the calculator will show you the expected return of the exact game.
Such calculators can be very useful when players are comparing different video poker games and are trying to find the one that offers the best payouts. Thanks to such online calculators, you can also find in no time the full-pay variation of a certain video poker game.
In addition to the video poker calculators, there is also software known as trainers. They allow you to recreate any variation of the casino game and see the possibilities for every type of hand. Usually, such trainers are set by default on 9/6 Jacks or Better which is also the full-pay option of the game. However, one can easily choose another video poker variation as well as set a different payout for certain hands. This will allow players to see the data that corresponds exactly to the game they are playing. The video poker trainer also allows you to choose between Random Mode and Hard Mode. Since video poker players are not all the same and they might be seeking a different type of experience, the trainer is suitable for various video poker fans.
Video Poker Calculators Additional TipsWhen you have selected the Random Mode, the trainer will deal five cards on a random selection and then will let you decide which cards to hold and which ones to discard. Once you are done with your decision, the trainer will show you if you have made any mistakes and will provide the best possible play for the specific hand. Whenever you make the wrong decision the trainer will show you the expected return for the hand you were holding and the best possible expected return for the correct hand.
The Hard Mode provides hands which are a little more complicated and even expert players might have a difficult time deciding which is the correct move. Whether you make the right or wrong decision, the trainer will let you know which is the hand that offers the best possible expected return.
Understanding the expected value and expected return is very important if you are interested in video poker strategies and want to learn the optimal move for each hand. These terms will allow you to compare various options and make the most profitable decision. You should not be fooled that the highest return will always guarantee you a win. However, in the long run, you can actually enjoy the expected return that a certain game provides.
And since it is difficult to memorize or even calculate the expected return for each hand, on every video poker variation, there are online calculators and trainers which can make everything easier for you. Thanks to such software, you can quickly compare games with different payouts as well as learn the most profitable move in every hand.
If you have ever wondered what differentiates the rookie video poker player from an expert, it is the knowledge of expected value and expected return. Players who are well aware of these terms and know how to utilize them in their gameplay, have an easy time learning the perfect strategy and enjoy exciting and rewarding gameplay.