My approach to each Vegas trip changes. Sometimes I try this, sometimes that. Sometimes choices are based on where the good games are, sometimes on where I want to be even if the games suck.
I get a lot of unsolicited advice about what I play, and where. I guess I can understand that, as I am passionate about Vegas and gambling, and people want me to do better.
And, a portion of the readership of the blog comes from vpfree, which has probably the most vocal, talented, dedicated, and video-poker obsessed people around. These folks know how to ferret out and take advantage of a good play.
But here's the thing.
I don't want to be an video poker advantage player.
Now, if you do, here's how you go about it:
- only play when your total expected return is over 100%
That seems simple, right? So how do you do that?
- play only the games with the best paytables around
- combine game return with promotions - cash back, free play, giveaways, bounce back cash, point multiplier days
- construct your play so that your choice of game and denom are all supported by a large enough bankroll to remove the risk of ruin, if possible
- train on your chosen game(s) until you are accurate and fast. Then train some more until you are near perfect. Then train more. Then train some more.
There are many more nuances but that's the heart of it.
If I was retired and lived in Vegas, or somewhere where enough advantages could be found, I might consider being an advantage player.
But for the purposes of my Vegas trips, when you are playing games you might not enjoy that much, when you are putting long hours in on possibly uncomfortable machines, in properties you may not like that much...
...it becomes work. A job.
|Vegas - it's a vacation, not a job. And that vacation includes gratuitously placed pictures of gorgeous women with money.|
The Dollar 9/6 Jacks Experiment
For a few trips, I played heavy dollar full pay Jacks at a property where, when combined with free play offers, and cash back, the play was positive. I had to do about $10K coin in per day, on uprights. I got free rooms but don't like the hotel.
After about four or five iterations of doing this, I was losing. I never hit a Royal, and that's pretty much why.
I found it interesting at first, and challenging, but then grueling. It wasn't much fun and it wasn't working and I didn't like the hotel rooms and I was losing and getting frustrated. And they kept changing the play requirements.
Why would I give up on a great positive play? Because it became work. It was stressing me out.
No thanks, time to regroup.
The Golden Nugget has some of the worst paytables downtown. Some people go ballistic when they see I am playing them.
Guess what, life time, I am a winner at the Nugget. I've hit more Royals there than anywhere else, and I've hit more dollar Royals there than anywhere else (three, including two on the same machine).
|Short pay Jacks Royal|
What does this really tell me, though? I know paytables matter.
Well, I think it means that in the short term, anything can happen. In the long term, it does matter that you pick better paytables, to assure a better long term return.
But how long is the long term? As a vacation going to Vegas, I think it takes many years before I get to the mathematical long term.
I like staying at the Nugget. I like the rooms, I like the food. I hate the paytables. Until recently, I was willing to give up a percent on paytables to have a comped stay. They throw free play, free nights, and pick up some food on the back end.
This is how I liked it, and I think it was pretty good value for money, overall.
That said, they continue to lower and lower the paytables and now they are among the worst - worse even than many strip locations.
So, I think our days there are numbered. We'll use up the free play and free rooms, and play elsewhere. When the offers dry up, we'll see what we want to do.
I'm willing to be sheered a little, but not slaughtered.
Anyway, the point I'm making here is, I never professed to be an advantage player, I never professed to be a professional at this, and I don't profess to make all decisions purely on the basis of the EV of the play.
There are other things besides the money it costs to play the game that are important to me.
And with that out of the way, an interesting play has come my way, and doing some math has made me think a bit differently about those short paytables.
More to come.