Ready to kickthe slot habit?

Jan 16, 2006 12:53 AM

Have you broken any or all of your New Year’s resolutions yet? Here’s one I think you should try to keep — breaking the slot habit.

Why play slots when you don’t have a clue what the payback is, when you can play video poker, where the exact payback is always right there in front of you?

Given the paytable of any video poker machine, the payback can be quickly determined, whether using a table that lists the paybacks of most machines or a computer program that can quickly calculate it.

Taking advantage of video poker requires using a strategy that is called expert strategy. Expert strategy consists of three key components:

”¡ Play the right machines

”¡ Play the right strategy

”¡ Know what to expect

Playing the right machines means playing video poker machines that have the highest possible payback. The ability to determine the payback with certainty makes this a relatively easy task. If this part of the strategy means you should try and find a video poker machine paying the highest payback, then it follows that you certainly shouldn’t be playing slots with paybacks in the 92%-93% range.

Many skeptics will say that it doesn’t matter what the payback is of the video poker machine you play. If you get lucky, that’s all that matters. If that were the case, video poker would be nothing more than a slot machine, a game of 100% luck.

Fortunately, the expert player is able to take advantage of this thought. Because so many players play lower paying video poker machines or do not use the right strategy, the casinos are able to offer high paying video poker machines that only these expert players can take advantage of.

To help prove this point, I simulated 100,000 sessions of 1500 hands, which is about 2-3 hours for the average player. I had the computer play as if two players were playing side by side. Player No. 1 played a full-pay jacks or better machine, paying 9/6 (on the Full House/Flush) while Player No. 2 played a short-pay jacks or better machine, paying 8/5. Let’s take a look at the key results:

”¡ Player 1 was a net winner 32.5% of the time

”¡ Player 2 was a net winner 19.4% of the time

”¡ Player 1 did better than Player 2 in 62% of the sessions

”¡ Player 2 did better than Player 1 in 37.7% of the sessions

For years, the skeptics have pointed to anecdotal evidence of why playing a better paying machine is pointless. They’ll recall some session in which some friend did better playing some awful machine, while they dutifully played a full-pay machine.

This single session is enough to convince them that the paytable of their machine has no value. As the numbers from our simulation show, however, such results are to be expected. In this case, Player 2 will do better more than a third of the time despite playing on a machine that plays at 97.5% versus Player 1’s machine that was paying about 99.5%. Player 2 can even wind up as a net winner almost 20% of the time.

Of course, Player 1 will be a winner almost 33% of the time and will do better than Player 2 nearly twice as often. Expert Strategy is NOT about guaranteeing you a winner, but giving you the best chance to win. I think our simulation shows clearly that by playing the better paying machine, you greatly increase your chances for doing this.

In case anyone was wondering, if we change Player 2 to play a 6/5 jacks or better, he will still manage to beat Player 1 occasionally, but only 26% of the time. He’ll also walk away a winner a mere 10% of the time. This is not in lifetime. This is not if you play dozens of hours a week. This is in a 2-3 hour session, whether you play one or a hundred of them.

 

time and will do better than Player 2 nearly twice as often. Expert Strategy is NOT about guaranteeing you a winner, but giving you the best chance to win. I think our simulation shows clearly that by playing the better paying machine, you greatly increase your chances for doing this.

In case anyone was wondering, if we change Player 2 to play a 6/5 jacks or better, he will still manage to beat Player 1 occasionally, but only 26% of the time. He’ll also walk away a winner a mere 10% of the time. This is not in lifetime. This is not if you play dozens of hours a week. This is in a 2-3 hour session, whether you play one or a hundred of them.