Sequentially Speaking

            In my office, there hangs a plexiglass sign that comes from an older style video poker machine.   Essentially it states that if you get a Royal in sequence (either direction) it pays Triple with maximum coins bet.  When you consider the fact that any 5 cards can appear in 240 unique sequences and that they are willing to pay you 3x if you get either one of two of them, the offer is a bit less generous than it sounds.  Of course, like anything in video poker, the more you pay for it, the more often you can make it occur.  But I'll get to that in a second.


            There is a very funny story about this sign.  When we lived on the east coast, it used to hang in the hallway leading from our garage into the house.  One day, my older son (then about 10), came in through the garage with a friend of his.  He pointed to the sign and said "see that's what my dad does.  That's what my grandfather used to do."  The friend looked at the sign, but beyond that my son might as well have been speaking Klingon.  Knowledge of casino games is second nature in my family, but for many others, it is as foreign as can be.


            I'm not sure if I've ever written about video poker that pays extra for sequential Royals (Royals that appear in order 10/J/Q/K/A) or Reversibles (sequential either 10 through Ace or Ace through 10).    I'm guessing that casinos did not have much luck attracting Players by paying 3 times the normal award.  Instead, they went much higher.  A Reversible Royal could pay 10,000 and a Sequential Royal might pay 20,000.   There are two reasons why I haven't written about this game.  The first is that I won't claim any expertise on this version.  The second is that I thought the game was nearly non-existent at this point.  Then, today, I saw a huge sign at Red Rock Station proclaiming their $2 Sequential Royal jackpot was now nearly $200,000.  I only saw the big flashing marquis, so I can't vouch for the full paytable.  The information I present today comes from a 'long lost' tipsheet that my father created in 1991.   Essentially it is a full-pay jacks or better paytable, but with a 20,000 payout for a Sequential Royal.  The payback is 100%.  A normal full-pay jacks or better is 99.6% so the casino is giving you a 'free' 0.4%.  So, all you need to do is sit back and hope that your Royal Flush happens to be sequential?  Not exactly.


            With a 20,000 per unit payout, there is a lot of incentive to change our strategy is certain cases.  What are these cases?  Well, obviously when we have a partial Royal that is in sequence.  So,  a QD X 10D X X has a lower expected value than 10D X QD X X.  Our strategy needs to reflect this to properly take advantage of this super payout on the Sequential.  Let's take a look at some ways we do this.


            Normally if you were dealt a Straight Flush that is also a 4-Card Royal, you just keep the 4-Card Straight Flush.  BUT, if you happen to be dealt 10C JC QC KC 9C, discarding the 9 and hoping for the Ace just went from an 800 payout to a 20,000 payout.  That makes it worth going for.   Discard the 9 and cross your fingers.  But ONLY if you are dealt these cards in this exact order. 


            While a 3-Card Royal has an expected value over 1, normally we would not discard a High Pair in favor of it.  If the 3-Card Royal, however, happens to be a 3-Card Sequential Royal, not only would we discard a High Pair, we should discard even a Three of a Kind!   We would also discard Straights and Flushes.  We would NOT discard a Straight Flush, however.  It should be noted that in cases where the 3-Card Sequential is a 4-Card Royal, we obviously do NOT discard the 4th card.  Not only does it have a higher EV, but if you discard one of the cards for the Royal, you clearly CANNOT make a Sequential Royal on the Draw!


            The 2-Card Sequential Royal makes a complete mess out of everything we know about 2-Card Royals.  Its Expected Value is also over 1.  While it does NOT rank over a High Pair, it beats out Low Pairs and all 4-Card Straights and 3-Card Straight Flushes.  Those that do not include a 10 also beat out 4-Card Flushes.  The 10/A Sequential is also a Playable hand that also outranks Low Pairs and 4-Card Straights.


            In the world of video poker, you don't get much higher than a 10,000 or 20,000 per unit payout.  Learning the right way to play a Sequential or Reversible Royal will take some extra work.  The good news is that these Sequential hands do not occur all that often and the rest of the strategy table is unchanged as it is otherwise a standard full-pay jacks or better paytable.


            If you'd like to learn more of the strategy, I'm making the tipsheet available for $3.  It is two double sided sheets that includes the strategy table for four games.  The games are Crazy 8's (not sure if this exists anymore),  TWO version of Sequential Royals (one based on jacks or better, the other on a variant of bonus poker) and one version of Reversible Royals.  If you'd like to order the tipsheet, please send a check paytable to Gambatria to P.O. Box 36474, Las Vegas, NV 89133.