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Best of John Grochowski

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Casino free is not free

8 March 2015

QUESTION: I live near the Canadian border and frequent a Canadian casino twice a month. So I purchase a 72-trip bridge pass for $35, good for nearly two years. Recently this casino telephoned me (I’d never gotten a telephone call from a casino!) and told me to visit the players' club and receive my free bridge pass.

When I got there the lady said, "Yes you have a 16-trip pass for an unlimited time." I said, "Great, that's worth about $8!" She said, "Oh no honey, it costs $2.75 one way." I said, "Not if you buy a 72-trip pass." She looked at me like I was crazy and decided to contact her supervisor.

Supervisor came to the desk and told me the promo was for their "special" American patrons. I said, "All right, it's better than a toaster oven!" They proceeded to produce the card and hand it to me saying, "Your comp account will be reduced by $20." I politely told her to put the card where the sun don't shine.

Casino free is not free. Which in reality is the truth behind all casino players' clubs.

ANSWER: Thanks for sharing your story. With any offers outside the usual player rewards, it’s best to ask if any points are being deducted from your account in exchange for the item. If no points are deducted, terrific. It’s a nice bonus. If points are being deducted, then it’s up to you to decide if you want the item or would rather keep the points.

In the broad sense, free offers from player rewards clubs are never free. You pay for them with your play as you accumulate points. The house edge on slot machines is high enough that you can’t make up the entire house edge with player rewards. There are some exceptions when dealing with high-paying video poker machines, but for the most part, your expected losses on the games pay for the “freebies,” and then some.


QUESTION: When writing about video poker you frequently mention 9-6 Jacks or Better with expert play in examples. Everyone I know plays mostly Double Double Bonus Poker and Triple Double Bonus Poker. With the way these games rarely give us a four of a kind, should we be playing 9-6 Jacks or Better instead?

ANSWER: I have written about strategies specific to Double Double Bonus, Triple Double Bonus and other games, but when writing about video poker in general, I default to Jacks or Better.

There are so many games that I can't possible use examples from every one each time I'm asked about a video poker strategy point. Nearly all games are based on Jacks or Better, and you won't go too far wrong if you use Jacks or Better strategy on other games. On 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, for example, the expected return is 98.98 percent with a strategy designed for that game, but you drop only to 98.44 percent if you use 9-6 Jacks or Better Strategy instead.

Which should you play? It depends on your goals. Jacks or Better pays 2-for-1 on two pairs, and is less volatile than most video poker games. However, you are less likely to score a really big win on Jacks or Better than on many other games. Given a five-coin bet, all four of a kind hands pay only 125 coins on Jacks or Better, while you have a chance at 2,000 coins on Double Double Bonus or 4,000 coins on Triple Double Bonus for four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card.

So it comes down to what play experience you want. Do you want extended play, or a chance at a big jackpot?
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski