New table games displayed at Global Gaming Expo
October 25, 2011 3:00 AM
by Elliot Frome
It was almost a year ago that I launched my blog (gambatria.blogspot.com). I was very nervous, but I’ve learned about the Internet over the years and pretty much any idiot can have a blog.
Quite frankly, I didn’t want to be "any idiot."
I’d like to think the name "Frome" is the gold standard in the industry where math analysis is concerned. To our credit, we have Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud Poker, Spanish 21, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, Imperial Pai Gow and countless sidebets.
That’s a lot of the casino floor whose math was done by Leonard Frome or myself.
So, I was quite surprised this past week coming across a financial blog that was very unimpressed with this year’s G2E where table games were concerned. Admittedly, I did write a column last year calling on more inventors to display their ideas at the G2E.
I recognize the cost of even a small booth can be rather prohibitive for the individual inventor, but what a great opportunity to show your game to people in the industry. I was pleasantly surprised to see at least two new inventors displaying their games and larger booths from some of the more established companies.
What I found amazing about this financial blog, however, was not that the writer looked over every game and found none of them to his liking. That would’ve been one thing. Instead, he essentially took table game companies to task for "designing games that the gambler has no hope of beating, but they force the gambler to take the time to learn how to play them!"
This blew me away! Does he truly expect the casino to introduce games that the player can easily beat? That’s not going to happen.
The only game that has ever been put on the floor that can readily be beaten are certain variations of video poker.
Further, our blogger is annoyed that you have to take time to learn how to play them. The only game which requires zero time to learn how to play them is perhaps slot machines.
As I’ve recounted in my column many times, I can’t even figure out when I’ve won or lost anymore in today’s video slots. All you need to do is press the ‘spin’ button and assume the machine will properly tally your win or loss.
I assume this meets the requirement of not needing to take time to learn how to play them. Thus, we can conclude from our blogger that what he is looking for is a slot machine with a 100 percent-plus payback. Perhaps he should’ve read my column from two weeks ago.
I talked then about a company that provides the payback information for their slot machines. This would necessitate learning how to use the smart phone ‘app’, so I don’t know if this meets his strict criteria.
A couple of days after this first column appeared, our blogger was back with more information for us. First, he repeats some of his thoughts from the previous column, decrying the lack of innovation from table game companies and then stating, "how the gaming industry has not seen a blockbuster table game since blackjack and how the industry may not see one until somebody steps up to create a game that is theoretically beatable."
That is quite a statement. According to Wikipedia, blackjack’s origins may be as much as 400 years old. The game as it is played in most jurisdictions is hardly beatable - or at least not easily. Yes, we’re all aware of the MIT team that did it, but this took a rather significant effort on the part of a focused group of individuals.
In 1991, the table half of the casino floor consisted of nothing but blackjack, craps and roulette. Twenty years later, it is estimated that as much as 15-20% of the tables in the U.S. market may be those that were invented after blackjack.
Twenty years from now, I have little doubt that blackjack will make up an even smaller percent of that floor. Let’s not forget that a blackjack table is essentially free to the casino while they have to pay to put a proprietary table game on their floor.
As a gaming analyst - and one that focuses mostly on table games - I am keenly aware of the math. Most of the newer games that are being introduced have paybacks in the higher 98 to low 99% range. Yes, they do require that you "learn" how to play them to achieve these paybacks. No one, not myself, not the inventors nor the casinos will try and let you believe that the games are beatable in the long run.
That does not, however mean that you cannot have winning sessions in the short run and enjoy the entertainment value that they can provide. Most table games are developed to have the player win about 35-45% of the time over a three-hour session - assuming you are willing to "take the time to learn how to play them."
Best of all, I won’t "force" you to do this, but I’ll give you the opportunity to by checking out the seven books in my Expert Strategy series for table games.