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A ROYAL BOO-BOO

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A max bet by mistake pays off big time in Triple Double Bonus bonanza

By John Grochowski

 

Like any other casino player, I slip up sometimes. One of the signs of fatigue that tells me it’s time for a rest is when I see a video poker card I should have held disappear from the screen. I’ve failed to play all the paylines on a video slot, hit the max bet coins by accident—and don’t even talk to me about table games.

If you play long enough, things are going to happen.

One thing I’ve never had happen is for a mistake to turn into a big cash bonanza. I’ve had some “Whew, that was all right” moments when I won a bet after a bad play, but never anything that was going to send me shopping for first-class tickets to Europe, or pay the mortgage for a few months.

A reader recently sent me a story about a big win he’d witnessed that falls firmly in the extraordinary category where a potentially mistake turns into seashells and balloons time, as the late Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire would have put it.

“An older woman was playing a Ten Play Poker slant top quarter machine behind me,” the reader wrote. “She was playing one quarter per hand, and the game was Triple Double Bonus.

“I heard her say ‘Oooops!’ rather loudly, so I stood up and turned around. She had somehow leaned over and mistakenly hit the full pay button.”

Instead of the $2.50 the woman had been wagering with 25 cents times 10 hands, she wagered $12.50 with full five coin bets for each hand. Not only that. A peek at the credit meter showed she had only 18 credits left. If this hand went badly, she was either done, or she’d be reaching for her purse to replenish the credit meter.

But she wasn’t done by any means. Timing is everything, and her timing was near-perfect.

“She had been dealt four aces,” the witness wrote. “A guy sitting next to her caught my eye and shook his head with a big smile.”

On Triple Double Bonus, four aces pay 800 coins for a five-coin bet– $200 on a quarter machine. If the fifth card is a 2, 3 or 4, that payoff rockets to 4,000 coins, or $1,000 at quarter level. That’s the main attraction of the game. Four aces with a low kicker at maximum bet pays as much as a royal flush while coming up more than three times as often as royals.

This woman didn’t have any of those 4,000-coin jackpots yet—she had the aces, but not the kickers. But she had at least $200 10 times over, and had the draw to go.

“She drew FIVE kickers, so she had $6,000 in all,” the reader who saw it all wrote. “I went back to playing and the staff did the hand pay.”

I’ve been sent stories on royals after betting lapses many times, but almost all work in the other direction: A player who always makes the maximum bet of five coins per hand for some reason bets less, and that’s when the royal flush comes.

Searching my memory, I think the first to tell me his sad tale was my brother Jay in the early 1990s, back when some machines still didn’t have bill validators to take paper money and put credits on the screen. Jay had been playing slots and had a bucket full of quarters—just how many he didn’t know.

He was feeding in quarters one at a time, and when he dropped the fifth one into the slot, the hand would launch. Those of you who have been playing for a couple of decades will remember that format. At the end of session, your hands would be filthy from handling all those coins, but we were still a few years from the ticket in, ticket out era.

At the end of his bucket, he had three quarters left. He had options. The winnings for the rest of the bucket now were on the credit meter, and he could have continued to play max coins off credits. He could have cashed out the quarters and started feeding them in by hand again.

He chose to bet the 75 cents. And that’s when the royal flush came.

I remember him saying, “I don’t know if I should even tell you this.” He was a tad embarrassed over a royal that was 750 quarters instead of the $1,000 jackpot for a royal with five quarters wagered.

Had he bet the max and changed his timing in any way, it’s unlikely he’d have drawn the royal. The random number generator would have been at a different point, and it’s roughly a 1 in 40,000 shot that it still would have generated a royal.

Nonetheless, I’ve collected a bunch of these stories over the years, from players who had been betting the max, and then drew the royal on the one time they bet less. Some used coins, some used tickets. None of them ever has said, “Hey, I’m glad I bet less that time because I probably wouldn’t have drawn the royal.” Every single one has expressed angst over breaking their pattern and settling for something less than the top pay.

But this latest tale was something different, and special. The reader-witnessed betting error wasn’t costly. It amped winnings up to $6,000 instead of the $1,200 the same hand would bring with a one-coin-per-line wager.

Was her husband thrilled for her? Not so much.

“She called her husband to tell him the news,” the witness said. “The guy next to her told me that he could hear her husband chewing her out for screwing up their taxes.”

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