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More on match play coupons

1 December 2009

A couple of months ago, I mentioned match play coupons that for one hand, roll or spin double your return if you win. The double winnings give you a mathematical edge on the house. If you had a match play coupon for every wager, you'd be the odds-on favorite to take the house's money.

That brought a handful of responses via e-mail from readers with variations on the match play theme. One was from a gentleman who wondered if there were any wagers that the house edge is so large that a match play coupon wouldn't be enough to give the player an edge.

There aren't. Match play coupons almost always specify that they are to be used on wagers with even-money payoffs only. The worst even-money payoff bet I know is the wager on the $1 slot on the Big Six wheel, also called the Money Wheel. You're betting that a spin of the vertical wheel will land in one of the 24 slots marked by a $1 bill.

There are 54 slots with currency of various denominations along with a couple of special symbols, but only the 24 $1 slots bring even-money payoffs that are eligible for match play. The house edge is 11.1%.

With match play, the player has a 33.3% edge. So even that awful bet is a money-maker with the coupon.

A couple of e-mails were from people who had been to Las Vegas casinos catering to low rollers. They were wondering if $2-for-$1 "Lucky Bucks" were any different than $5 match plays. On a percentage basis, they're exactly the same — whether you're winning $2 for a $1 bet, $10 for $5 or $200 for $100, the player's advantage is equal.

Others asked about coupons that aren't a full match. "What about those coupons that let you win $7 for a $5 bet," one woman wrote.

They still give the player an advantage, but that edge is smaller.

Let's use roulette as an example. Say you're betting red on a double-zero wheel, with even-money payoffs that give the house a 5.26% edge. With a full match play, in which your winning $5 bet brings $10 in winnings, the player edge is 41.1%.

Here's the way that works. There are 18 red numbers, 18 black, and the zero and double zero both have green backgrounds. Per 38 spins, you'll average 18 wins and 20 losses. At $5 a spin, you risk a total of $190. On the 18 winners you keep your $5 wagers plus get $10 in winnings, including match play, so at the end of the trial you have $270.

That's an $80 profit. Divide that by the $190 risked, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and you get a 41.1% player edge.

What if you're using a $7-for-$5 coupon instead of pure match play? Then after each win, you'll have $12, keeping your $5 wager and gaining $7 in winnings. Now your 18 winners in an average 38 spins leave you with $216, a profit of $26. That's a player edge of 13.7%.

If you were permitted to use a $7-for-$5 coupon on every spin of the wheel, you would make money in the long run. That's more than double the house edge without a coupon, and the house does very nicely, thank you.

Wins are never guaranteed, but playing with the math on your side is a pleasant change when the coupons are available.

** * ** * **

Along with the questions on match play math, I received a comment from a Colorado player with a system for using the coupons at craps.

"When I get a match play coupon I risk it on either the pass line or don't pass line and hedge it with an opposite bet. For example, coupon plus $10 on the pass line and $10 on the don't pass line. That way I am only risking the coupon plus a possible 12, but the odds are low for the 12 to show."

The player is trying to take wins while they come while eliminating the risk of loss. If the pass line wins, a $10 bet plus $10 match play brings $20 in winnings, and while the $10 don't pass loses, there remains a $10 profit. If the pass line loses, the don't pass win offsets the loss.

The problem is the 12, which show up an average of once per 36 come-out rolls. When that happens, the pass bet loses, the player forfeits the coupon, and the don't pass bet pushes, leaving an overall loss of $10.

What the system accomplishes is to lower volatility. The player will lose money an average of only once per 36 sequences. The cost is that it waters down the player edge a coupon brings.

I can understand the urge to hedge, but when I have the edge, I want to keep all of it. I'll take the losses as they come, knowing that my maximum advantage comes from making the base bet plus coupon and not giving away part of that advantage by taking on a second wager with an edge to the house.

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:

> More Books By John Grochowski