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"Flexible" payout percentages

Are game payouts set by the casino, or can they be affected by other factors? There are two basic considerations here: The nature of the games and the nature of the software.

Out of the many casino games available, very few offer the possibility of player input affecting the result because most games do not allow the player to choose HOW he plays his cards. Out of the whole spectrum of games available, there are basically two that extend to the player this option: the various forms of blackjack and video poker. All the other games are played automatically following set rules: in roulette and craps, the player simply places his stakes on the board; in baccarat, he bets on either player or banker; slot machines, he spins the reels. However, blackjack and video poker afford the player a very wide range of decision-making options that affect his overall return to a very great extent. Play the cards perfectly and you will get the best payout possible from these games - and that "best" is often very good indeed.

The second factor to take into consideration when considering an online casino game payout is the software itself, and it's very, very important to do your research thoroughly to ascertain whether the game is "real" or "manipulated" in terms of the play of the cards, because there are some apparently excellent games that are set to return a very low amount to the player.

To give a specific example in the "real" world: in the United Kingdom, all machine games - both slots and video poker - operate on the "slot" principle: the outcome of the spins is not natural because the reels don't spin freely - they're "weighted" to guarantee a particular overall payout, somewhere between 70 and 80 percent (for more detailed information on the working of slots, have a read of Michael Shakleford's slot machine article). A few years ago - and unaware of this "slot" nature of UK video poker - I came across a video poker machine in a slot arcade with what looked like a very generous pay table that would pay back WELL over 100% in the long run. I examined the game closely, and ironically enough only ended up NOT playing it because the manager asked me to leave the building! - I think he thought I was up to no good. If I HAD played that machine I would have lost heavily to a game with an 80% payout, unaware as I was that it wasn't a "real" game but a weighted slot machine.

Online, the same problems exist. For example: a well-known non-download casino I've played at runs a video poker game with a HUGE theoretical payout. However, read the small print and you'll discover that what looks everything like a normal video poker game is actually a slot machine with an average payout of about 95%. If it were a "real" game the payout would be around 112%! Again, careful research is needed to ascertain whether or not the game is claimed to be "real" or "manipulated".

Beyond that problem, there is then to consider, notwithstanding the claims of the people who run the games, whether or not it's genuine as claimed or "rigged". This is a contentious area and one in which there are rarely any certainties; however: I will categorically state that all the games mentioned on this site are both ostensibly "real" according to the provider, and also "real" in terms of my own opinion based on my experience of them. In short, I believe you can play with impunity the games mentioned here, as confident as it's realistically possible to be that the games are genuine.

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