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Best of John Grochowski
A shuffle through the gaming mailbag9 August 2012
A. Let's take the second one first, since you provided more information. At that casino, it means your free play is worth 0.25% of all your wagers if you play slots, 0.125% if you play most video poker machines, and only 0.0125% if you play high-paying video poker.
I don't know how much the slots pay at that casino, but a 0.25% rewards boost would increase an 87% game -- normal enough for a penny slot -- to 87.25%, or a 95% dollar game to 95.25%. In video poker, an 8/5 Jacks or Better game would rise from 97.30 to 97.425%. And a 9/6 Jacks or Better game would rise from 99.54% to a fraction over 99.55%.
None of those rewards will push you over the top to where the game is a money-maker.
The buffet deal is another matter. Playing long enough to earn 10 points on a slot game means $40 in play. Average losses on an 87% penny game would be $5.20, and on a 95% dollar game they'd be $2. Most video poker games would give 10 points for $80 in play, and the average loss on an 8/5 Jacks or Better game would be $2.16. It would take $800 in play at 9/6 Jacks or Better, and the average loss would be $3.68.
Those are just average losses. On a volatile dollar slot machine, it's possible to lose the full $40 in earning 10 points, and on the 9/6 Jacks or Better game you could lose a couple of hundred during $800 in play.
If my goal was just to play long enough to earn the buffet, my choice would be the 8/5 Jacks or Better game, which is less volatile than the dollar slot and less risky than betting 10 times as much on the better video poker game. But if I'm going to play long enough that I'm going earn the point no matter what, then I want to be on the highest-paying game, and will choose 9/6 Jacks or Better.
As for the casino with multiple points on some slot machines, there's no way to know what the payback percentages are on any one machine. If I was going to play video slots in that casino, I'd give the special games a try. But even at 4x points, the rewards can't make up the entire house edge, so I'd feel no qualms about moving if the machine wasn't paying or if it just wasn't keeping me entertained.
A. Pass with odds is really two bets in one. The odds portion of the bet has no house edge, but there is a house edge on the pass bet. That house edge on pass is always there. Putting bigger portions of your bet into the odds dilutes the effect of that house edge, but it can never eliminate it entirely.
I have seen one craps opportunity with no house edge at all. For a short time, in the 1990s, a Midwestern casino offered a field wager that paid 3-1 when the roll was either 2 or 12. The field pays even money if the roll is 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11. It also pays on 2 or 12, with some casinos paying 2-1 on either of those numbers, for a 5.56% house edge, and some pay 2-1 on 2 but 3-1 on 12, for a 2.78% edge.
When this casino decided to pay 3-1 on both 2 and 12, it created a wager with zero house edge.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John Grochowski