CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

1 December 2011

Q. I play a lot of 9/6 Jacks but have always wondered whether progressive video poker machines pay off smaller amounts less frequently in order to pay for the progressive. I believe this is true in slots and it certainly seems to be in video poker.

A. The programming in video poker doesn't allow for a lower frequency of small-paying hands to pay for the progressive. Progressive or not, the deck is electronically shuffled, results are random and the odds are the same as if you were using a well-shuffled deck of real cards.

A casino that wants its base game to pay less on a progressive game will change the pay tables, just as they do on their regular video poker games. The same casino might have 9/6 Jacks or Better non-progressives and 8/5 progressives. If they have 9/6 progressives, they're giving the player something extra above the 9/6 pay table.

Slot machines are different both in programming and in regulatory requirements. Casinos can and do have lower-paying games with lower frequency of small paybacks on progressive machines. But in video poker, any change in the game is out there for the world to see in the form of the lower pay table.

Q. I have been getting lots of spam about a roulette technique that basically says the following:
  • Bet a small amount on red or black (say $5).
  • If you win, pocket the win and start over.
  • If you lose, bet 2.5x your first amount on the same color.
  • If you win, pocket the win and start over.
  • If you lose, again bet 2.5x your total investment on the same color.

The premise is that your color will eventually come up and as long as you keep betting more than your total investment you will always be ahead at the end of each cycle. I see two potential flaws. One, you don't have enough cash to endure a long stretch of losing spins; and two, there is a stakes limit that prevents you from increasing your bet enough to eventually win it all back.

What do you think?

A. It's awful. The system will win more often than it loses, but when it loses the losses will be ridiculous. It's a variation on the old double-up Martingale system, but more dangerous because the bets get bigger faster.

Let's take his $5 example. In a losing streak, your bets would have to be $5, $12.50, $31.25, $78.12, $195.31, $488.28, $1,220.70.

Note that after six losses, your wager is over $1,200. You're running into table maximums — I don't know of many casinos that allow that sort of bet on a $5 table, so at that point the system goes out the window. Even if you're allowed to make that bet, on your six losses you've already totaled over $800 in losses. And now you want to risk going over $2,000?

The odds of six losses in a row are greater than people who buy into these awful systems think. You'll lose six in a row on about 2.1% of all trials. That one streak in 47.6 trials will wipe out all winnings and still leave you with a big loss.

Q. I went to an Illinois casino near Chicago last week for the first time in a few months. It was nearly empty. I could have played just about any game I wanted, but the video poker was awful, they jacked up the minimum bets on the cheap slots, and the betting limits on table games were out of sight. In about half an hour, I helped the place get emptier.

I was disappointed, and I guess I'm wondering if there's any chance of seeing better games.

A. The Chicago area gaming market is going through a shakeout period, and I hesitate to predict what any of the operators in that area might or might not do. We had already seen slumps in business in Joliet, Aurora and Elgin due to the 1-2 punch delivered by the economic downturn and Illinois' smoking ban. Added competition from the summer opening of the very successful Rivers Casino in Des Plaines left smaller pieces of a shrinking pie for everyone.

Perhaps older casinos will regain some market share once everyone has seen Rivers. Some players will settle back into their old favorites. To bring old players back, and perhaps to attract new ones, casinos emphasize personal relationships with their guests along with updated restaurants and amenities, promotions and player reward incentives.

What I've not heard anyone speak of yet is a change in game mix. The Chicago area used to be an outstanding video poker market, with games that were an attraction. That's no longer the case. As you noted, minimum bets at the tables cater to premium players. And we're seeing more video slots that are pennies or 2 cents in name only, with minimum bets of 50 cents or a dollar on low-paying games.

In boom times, that might be way to go, maximizing revenues in packed casinos. In the current market, someone might benefit by rethinking a mix of games that prices some players out of the market and sends a message to choosy players that their business is not wanted.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski