Why Full Pay?

Why Full Pay?

          This week's column comes courtesy of a letter I received this past week.  A Gaming Today reader ordered a copy of Winning Strategies for Video Poker to help him identify full-pay machines as he and his wife had no clue how to go about finding them.  Winning Strategies is actually an excellent choice for this.  It really isn't a beginner's book on video poker.  For that, I would recommend Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas (or Atlantic City version if you are on the East Coast).  These two books will explain everything there is to know about video poker.   It will go through the process of explaining why we play the hands the way we do, what expected value is and help with finding some of the right machines.  Winning Strategies on the other hand, simply lists out 60+ different paytables, let you know what the payback of those paytables are and provide you with the strategy table for each.  If you don't know what a strategy table is or how do use one, you'd do better with one of the other books.

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Analyzing Games

Analyzing Games

            I was asked this past week about the process of analyzing a game.  I was caught a little off guard when I was asked in front of a room full of people.  My answer was probably a little jumbled.  But now, with some time to think about it some more, I think I can explain it better.  The real trick is not coming up with the payback of win frequencies.  What I'm really in search of is the proper strategy for the Player to play.

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Walking Away A Winner

Walking Away A Winner

            Today's topic comes courtesy of Facebook.  A friend of a friend posted that she was leaving Las Vegas happy because she was leaving as a winner.  She played three spins at roulette and won all three so she was done.  I was tempted to write a reply asking if she had played all 37 numbers on each spin.  This would guarantee that she 'won', depending on the definition of winning a particular spin.  Alternatively, she could've bet 'red' on three consecutive spins and had a red number come up each time.  The odds would be about 11.5% that she would win all three.

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Oh Craps!

Oh Craps!

            There was an article a few months ago in some of the industry newsletters about how the Wynn in Macau had 'tweaked' their gaming floor to increase margins.  The headline piqued my interest so I decided to read about what they did.  There were two main components.  The first was that they rearranged the table games on the floor.  It didn't go into much detail, but it seemed like they put the more profitable games in more prominent places and put some of the lower margin, slower games more off to the side.  This seems reasonable enough.  It is up to the Player to find the games he wants to and should (for his bankroll's sake) be playing.

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The Right Strategy

The Right Strategy

            Last week's column was all about how to beat Video Poker.  As I discussed last week, and numerous other times, this is not about 'taking down the house'.  You're not going to bankrupt the casino.  You're not going to walk out with wheelbarrows full of money.  Beating the house simply means winning instead of losing.  For many of you, it might simply mean losing a little instead of losing a lot.  I don't peddle schemes for how to beat the house.  I offer strategy on how to maximize the payback of each game.  If you do this, you give yourself the best chance to win in the short run.  There are also some games that give you a chance to eke out a small gain over the long haul.

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Beating Video Poker

Beating Video Poker

            In our book, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas, Chapter 11 is entitled "Beating Video Poker."  Is this really possible?  Can you beat video poker?  I think this really depends on your definition of 'beat' is.  Can you win money in the short term?  I believe you can.  Can you break even, or lose minimally over the long term?  Most definitely.  Can you make a living from playing video poker?  Not so easily would be the fairest answer.

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How to Pick a Game?

How to Pick a Game?

           I don't get jealous of a lot of things or people.  I think I'm quite fortunate in my personal and business life.  If there is one thing that gets me a bit 'green', it's when I come across a gambling related article that gets front page exposure on Yahoo that doesn't really say anything special.  Now, this doesn't mean the article is useless.  I'm just wondering how come that article gets on Yahoo and my articles don't?

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Is it Better to be Lucky Than Good?

Is it Better to be Lucky Than Good?

            Many, many years ago, in a former career that I had (as a Senior Director of IT for a Fortune 50 company), a colleague remarked to my boss how it was better to be lucky than to be good.  To be clear, she was talking about work.  I remember my boss telling me about this conversation and needing to be calmed down.  That boss, who is still a good friend of mine to this day, is a person I consider to be one of the very best at what he does.  The notion that someone would rather be less skilled but lucky drove him nuts.  Quite frankly, it didn't do much for me either.

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Bond, James Bond

Bond, James Bond

          The casino floor is the epitome of the expression “to each his own”.  When guys try to invent games, many think that they can get the casinos to remove all the other games and place just theirs.  This shouldn’t even remotely be the goal, because it isn’t going to happen.  You could give a game away for free and it still won’t happen.  I’ve never taken to Pai Gow Poker or to Baccarat.  I’ve played the former perhaps twice (for a total of 20 hands?) and the latter not at all.  I find the games very slow, and well, boring.  To me, they are the casino equivalent of watching paint dry.  But, these games are very popular overall.  People play hundreds of dollars on a single hand.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in Plain Sight

            Today, I received an e-mail from a reader regarding casinos that offer 100.17% payback video poker machines.  He wanted to understand why casinos offer these machines, questioned the benefits of the casino of doing so and wondered if perhaps, the casinos essentially hope that Players don't play them.  I'm assuming that the game the reader was talking about was the Full-Pay Double Bonus machines.  This paytable can be found in numerous casinos here in Las Vegas, but I'm not sure if you'll find them anywhere else.  But, today's discussion is less about the specific game and more about video poker machines with paybacks over 100%.

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The Big Fish

The Big Fish

          If you wanted to learn how to hit a baseball who would you go to?  Personally, I'd want a lesson from Keith Hernandez.  As a die hard Mets' fan, I hear him on the broadcasts about hitting and the guy knows what he is talking about.  Combine that with his lifetime .300 batting average and his overall stats and I think my decision makes sense.  The bottom line is that I'm going to an accomplished major league HITTER for advice.  While there are many others you could go to, if you told me you wanted to talk to Ruben Tejada (a lifetime .250 hitter?), I'd really have to question your judgment.

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Creation

Creation

           Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the table game landscape in a casino.  The first two games to come along were Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud Poker.  Then there was a sizeable lull until Three Card Poker came along.  This was not just another successful game as it became the 800 pound gorilla.  With roughly 2000 tables in the world, nothing is really even close in terms of proprietary table games in terms of volume.  One would think that Three Card Poker would've opened up the casino to a whole new world of casino games.

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Playing Tricks

Playing Tricks

           Math can play some very nasty tricks on the unsuspecting human.  It can do quite a number even on those of us who are pretty good at math.  It is these 'tricks' that can so easily distract a Player, causing him to believe all sorts of outlandish things - like the machines are rigged.  This, in turn, can cause a Player to wonder why he should follow any strategy based on math if the games are rigged.  Really, the question you SHOULD ask is if the games are rigged, why would you want to play them at all?

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Tempted by Temptation

Tempted by Temptation

           Last week, I discussed cursorily two scenarios that occurred recently at a blackjack table I was playing at.  This week, I'm going to explain a bit more about each of these circumstances and why they are both rather egregious.  The two situations were splitting 10's and hitting a 'soft' 21.  We'll deal with splitting 10's first.

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I've Seen It All

I've Seen It All

          Anecdotal stories can help you remember what you're supposed to do in the casino, but they are not a good basis for what you actually should do.  This past week, I had the opportunity to sit down and play some blackjack at the Suncoast Casino here in Las Vegas.  My son was in town and he likes the tables more than video poker.  I'm not really sure why I don't play blackjack much anymore.  I know the game as well as anybody, and I play it as well as I play video poker (maybe better!).  I think it is probably more about me finding video poker to be more exciting (i.e. more volatile) and that gives a greater thrill while playing.

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Follow The Leader

Follow The Leader

           I'm not sure where the idea came from.  But, it would appear that lacking any real knowledge of casino table game strategy, someone came up with the idea of just following what the Dealer does.  In some games, it is not a horrible idea, but it is still not ideal.  In the game of Pai Gow Poker, playing the House Way will get you very close to the best possible payback.  Given what it would take to memorize the few exceptions to the House Way rules would likely cost you more in errors than it would save you in added payback, following the Dealer here is not a bad idea.

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Ready to Bang My Head Against a Poll

Ready to Bang My Head Against a Poll

           How many of you are sick of reading about polls?  Presidential polls, Senate polls, debate polls, local question polls.  This column is NOT political.  But since all the numbers you hear about polls are about math and statistics, many of the same types of numbers that are used in gaming, I thought I might give a quick lesson on interpreting some of what you hear.  The idea for this week's column came when a friend of a friend of mine remarked about two recent polls.  One showed Candidate A leading by 11 points and the other by 4 points.  Both had a margin of error of 3%.  He declared that one of the polls clearly had to be wrong.  WRONG!

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Not All Table Games are Scientific

Not All Table Games are Scientific

           The table game landscape has changed quite a bit in the past few years.  At the top of the food chain, the name of the company has changed, but the core hasn't.  Scientific Games (which purchased Bally Technologies which purchased Shuffle Entertainment) is still the 800 pound gorilla.  But there is a new player in the industry now.  I don't know where in the rank they fall, but they had the 2nd largest table game display at the Global Gaming Expo two weeks ago.  This week, I'll give a brief review of the games of AGS.

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Global Gaming Expo - Table Games Part 2

Global Gaming Expo - Table Games Part 2

           I'm wiped out.  No, not financially!  I think I logged about 15 miles of walking the last three days at the Global Gaming Expo.  Can't they put all the table games into one area for me?  As is no surprise, the largest display of table games belonged to Scientific Games.  I previewed some of their games last week and will continue that process this week, now that I had a chance to see the remaining games live.  AGS also had a sizeable number of table games (about 6 or 8), including some new ones.  After that, the pickings got a bit slimmer.  Score Gaming had 3 games on display and a few others each had a couple.  In the coming weeks, I'll review their entries as well.  What I did not find much of, were the scrappy independents.  I did see one or two who did not have booths working on making connections.

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Global Gaming Expo 2016 - Table Games Part 1

Global Gaming Expo 2016 - Table Games Part 1

            Last week, I discussed some of the Blackjack variants and sidebets that will be on display at the Scientific Games booth at the Global Gaming Expo that begins today.  This week, I'll give a preview of some of their poker-based table games.  For those of you who are regular readers, you know that I will not find it surprising that virtually all of their table games are fitting into one of these two categories - Blackjack and Poker.  Many inventors have tried to break this mold, and none have succeeded.  So, you can question whether the issue is that they haven't hit the right formula yet or if they are fishing in the wrong pond.  The latter still seems to be the likely answer.

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