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Eight is enough? You can bet on it!

Mar 25, 2003 3:57 AM

There are quite a few progressive tickets around these days, and one of the most popular is the progressive 8 spot. These are one of the few wagers in the casino or the keno game where the player can, with proper playing strategy, actually play with a positive mathematical expectation. In other words, the player can in certain situations expect to win more money than he or she has played.

This is not a sure thing of course; you are still gambling. The odds against hitting a solid 8 are about 230,115 for one. When we say that the player has a positive expectation, we mean something like this. Suppose that the jackpot on a $1.00 8 spot is $400,000, with only the solid eight paying a winner to simplify matters. Since the odds against winning are 230,115 for one, we divide 400,000 by 230,115 and get a figure of 1.74. This means that we expect to win $1.74 for every dollar we bet, which is a pleasant prospect. This would hold true only until the progressive is hit and then reset, of course.

To reap this benefit, the player must not play the progressive until it reaches at least the break-even point. Below is a chart that will help you determine that point easily. The chart tells you, for various 8 spot prices, how much money must be added to the initial jackpot in order to reduce the house percentage by x percent. Note that the figure on the chart does not include the initial jackpot, which is usually but not always $50,000.

Most of these progressive tickets have initial house percentages (at the reset) of 25-30%, so we can be fairly confident that if the percentage has been reduced by that much, we are very close to a positive expectation! Let’s take a two dollar 8 spot progressive for example. It is a two dollar 8 spot, so we’ll use the second column. The initial house percentage on the ticket is roughly 26%, so the break even point is right around $169,000, ($119,000 plus the $50,000 initial jackpot) and at any jackpot higher than this we will be playing with a positive expectation.

I have rounded the figures in the chart to the nearest hundred dollars, in deference to the typesetter. She does a great job with this column and the many numbers that have been crunched here!