Positively, payoffs!

Dec 18, 2006 6:20 AM

Much is made of games that have a positive expectation, or an overall payback of over 100%. Is there really some line that is crossed if a game’s payback is 100.1% vs. 99.9%? Is it really that much different from the difference between a 99.7% and a 99.9% game? Quite frankly, the answer is yes.

Any game with a payback of over 100% means that the more players play according to the proper strategy, the more likely they will win. Play enough hours and winning is almost a guarantee. Exactly how long they will need to play to get this guarantee will depend on the nature of the game being played. If the game requires a very rare occurrence, such as a dealt royal or a sequential royal, then it may take many hours, days or weeks of continuous play. In the end, however, the players will win and the house WILL lose.

You’ll note that I’ve been very careful in my wording in the prior paragraph. It does not refer to a single player. It refers to players in general. If a single player can eke out a small win all the time, then it follows that a larger group of players, following the same strategy can magnify this win.

The players can eliminate the issues of playing 24 hours a day or fatigue by playing in a tag-team fashion. I’m not suggesting that this team cheat in any way or pass information from one member to another while playing. I’m simply suggesting that they can make the long-term occur much faster by increasing the number of player hours in any give timeframe.

For example, let’s assume there is a bank of video poker machines paying 101%. Further, let’s assume that it could be shown that if a player were to play 4 million hands, they would be virtually guaranteed to not only be winning, but winning the full expected 1% of the total play (For the record, I just made the 4 million figure up for illustration purposes).

Even playing at the lightning speed of 1000 hands per hour, it would take the player 4000 hours or 167 DAYS of continuous play. It may take more than free coffee to pull this off.

Suppose, however, that instead of a single player playing on a single machine, we use 20 players to play on each of the 20 machines in the bank of machines. Now, it will only take 8+ days to play the 4 million hands. This is still a tall order.

So, what if we get 60 players, each one playing 8 hours a day for 8+ days, on each of the 20 machines. It will still take 8+ days to complete the 4 million hands, but now the task is rather manageable. But, would it be worth it?

Well, if the machines were $1 machines, and each hand was played at max-coin, a total of $20 MILLION would be played through the machines. So, the 1% expected win would be $200,000. Of course, this needs to be split 60 ways. So, each player will net about $3300 dollars for working just over 8 days. Donald Trump will have little to fear, but it would make for a nice payday.

More importantly, the casino has lost $200,000 in 8 days. If this team were to keep working all year long, the casino would lose more than $8 million just on this bank of machines. To the casino, it will not matter if the team of players consists of one player or 1,000 players. It will not matter if they are playing as a team or not. The bottom line is that if the bank of machines are played using expert strategy and are played non-stop, the casino will lose this amount of money. This is not a guess. This is a near mathematical certainty.

Of course, finding a team of 60 players who will all learn how to play a game such as video poker perfectly may by itself be a daunting task. But the numbers for video poker are large because so much of the payback is buried into the royal flush, which will occur about once in just over 40,000 hands when playing properly. So, let’s look at another possible scenario.

I’ve often joked with my friends about finding a table game in casinos where an error was made in the original math. No amount of the payback consists of a hand that is rare. Suppose someone created a table game, with relatively simple strategy that for some reason has an overall payback of about 102%. What would be the best way to take advantage of this?

I could take several thousand dollars and head to the casino and play all day and all night until my head hurt. With a little luck, I’ll win enough money before the casinos figure out the error in the game.

A better plan would be that I call up several friends, I give them a quick lesson on the game and we head down to the casinos. We have no need to take over a single table. The plan doesn’t require this. We just have to play as many hands as possible at a wager level that will allow us to ride out any cold streaks. As long as we can survive the cold streaks, the longer we play, the more we will win.

This type of plan works even if the game is a mere 100.1% payback. Obviously, the overall amount won will be much smaller, but the bottom line is the casino runs the risk that a team of players may show up with a very large bankroll.

Since the players are almost guaranteed to win, the goal is to wager as much as they can and play as much as they can. If, on the other hand, the game has an overall payback of 99.9%, no plan will work. In fact, the plan will work in reverse. The more hands the team plays, the more the team will lose.