Donniee
Joined: Dec 28, 2015
• Posts: 40
February 13th, 2017 at 9:32:46 PM permalink
A local casino near my house offers promotions as an incentive to attract guests. I have an option between 3 choices. I believe all 3 options will give me an advantage over the house but I would like to know exactly how much.

Promotion 1: \$10 slot play.

Obviously, if I take advantage of the \$10 slot play and decide to leave afterwards, I will come out ahead every single time. However, The amount of money I make will be next to nothing. I would still like to know what my advantage is and how much I can expect to make over time.

Promotion 2: \$15 match bet

This is pretty much a coupon that is worth \$15 as long as I use it with my own \$15 in any even money bet. I would be risking \$15 with a chance to make \$30. Again, what would be my advantage here?

Promotion 3: \$250 buyin with free \$40.

I am required to buy in for \$250 cash and in exchange I will be given \$250 worth of chips that cannot be cashed out and 2 coupons worth \$20 each. The coupons can be bet separately and will be taken away regardless if the bet wins or loses (I will not keep it even if I win). The \$250 promotional chips will be paid out with real money if I win the hand.

I believe promotion 3 will give me the best advantage in the long run but please break down each one for me.

Thank you!
odiousgambit
Joined: Nov 9, 2009
• Posts: 7293
February 14th, 2017 at 3:31:44 AM permalink
The value of free play, #1, depends on what games are allowed. Sometimes VP is allowed even though it is called slot play. In any case you run it through once and it will have an average value equal to the return - if slots figure maybe 80% of \$10 = \$8, if VP maybe 98% = \$9.80 [check out the paytables]. All subject to variance.

Match play is worth slightly less than half face value - assumption being that it can only pay even money. So #2 is worth a little over \$7. If my assumption is wrong, check back with us!

#3 seems the best deal. You decide how much variance and HE you want against your \$250, but as per #1 above on average you can get it nearly all back. The promotional chips are again worth slightly less than half face value. So for losing maybe \$5 you get nearly \$20 in value on this one.

Note that variance plays a big role. You could do #3 and play the wrong thing, and lose too much. Although winning big is also possible usually controlling the variance is of interest to most of us. Some even play the BJ on the machines that pay even money on a natural to get the low, low variance for their free play etc. [edit: not possible I guess with non-neg chips]

Learn to get answers from wizard of odds dot com. The below link gives information on the various values of these different 'chips' . The values can go very high if other than even money bets are allowed. Note also values near 100% for non-neg with the right Craps and Baccarat bets.

https://wizardofodds.com/gambling/promotional-chips/
"Baccarat is a game whereby the croupier gathers in money with a flexible sculling oar, then rakes it home. If I could have borrowed his oar I would have stayed." .......... Mark Twain
Romes
Joined: Jul 22, 2014
• Posts: 4116
February 14th, 2017 at 7:50:15 AM permalink
One thing to point out... I think you already know this OP, but just in case you don't... Most casinos only let you do a new member bonus one time and then you can't ever do them again.

On #3... The promotional chips. Since you don't get to keep the promotional chips you have to

A) Convert the chips to real money, which will have a negative expectation with them. Say you play your \$250 on baccarat, or craps, at about a 1.5% edge (let's say for even numbers). Then your \$250 will carry a negative expectation of -\$3.75 with it. More importantly as odiousgambit pointed out is the VARIANCE. You could take some wild swings.

Your best bet here is to actually bet them in a "raise" game scenario. If you play UTH for example, use the promotional chips for the Play bet when you flop a strong hand. This will reduce the variance of those chips GREATLY, though you'll have a little bit more negative cost for playing the Ante-Blind with your own money. Or similarly on 3CP you could wager them there and raise with the promotional chips when you know you have a really good hand. This would still involve putting \$250 of action through 3CP (at ~3% HE)... so here your negative EV would be something like -\$12.

B) Use the two \$20 "free play" coupons. The coupons are worth "about" half of face value, so you're getting "about" \$20 out of them.

If you're losing about \$12 from A, and gaining about \$20 from B, then you're still only expecting back about \$8... Get \$10 and play it off on some kind of slot that you think is 90% payback or better (hell maybe even just ask a floor with your coupon and say you want to play on a good payback machine or something). At that point your highest return is definitely on slots, but the variance on slots is also higher.

None of these are 'tremendously' good deals other than the fact that they're "free" for signing up. None of them have much value to the player, but yes, you have a big advantage in all of them. A big advantage doesn't mean big bucks if you are limited by amount though.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
Donniee
Joined: Dec 28, 2015
• Posts: 40
February 14th, 2017 at 9:31:49 AM permalink
I understand variance completely and I am willing to accept it because I like to think of my gambling adventure as one long session. I do not really care what happens on any given day or week.

It seems like option 3 definitely has the best odds but also the most variance. This is my understanding of it so please confirm if I am correct. The free \$40 are worth half of their face value so immediately I can think of it as \$20. The \$250 promotional chips would have to be played and converted into real chips. Supposed I flat bet \$10 a hand on a game of 3 to 2 blackjack with house edge of 0.5%. I would probably need to play more than \$250 to fully convert all my money, let's say I wagered a total of \$500. The house edge would take away around \$2.50. I am left with around \$17.5 winnner every time I take advantage of this promotion.
BobDancer
Joined: Jun 22, 2013
• Posts: 140
February 14th, 2017 at 9:43:13 AM permalink
The analysis already given presumes that ALL the coupon and free play bets are "even money only." That could well be the case --- but it ain't necessarily so. Given the uncertainty the original poster had about which was the best bet, I'm not willing to accept "even money bets only" unless rules to that effect were clearly posted. If this is indeed a new member sign-up, they very likely have written rules which will be available if you ask for them.

And the best strategy for those coupons certainly depends on the rules.

For example, if you bet a \$20 coupon on number 7 on roulette and it wins, do you collect \$20 or \$700 (with the understanding they take the coupon in both cases)? If the answer is \$20, using the coupon for this type of bet would be pretty stupid. If it is \$700, the \$20 coupon is worth \$18.42, which is a LOT more than half value --- with a lot of variance.

And if the 37:1 shot doesn't come in, can you shrug it off with "I had the best of the situation which the Wizard says is the right test of a good bet"? Or are you a "I ended up with nothing this time --- what a waste!" kind of guy? No matter what the odds are, not everybody has the psychological wherewithal to be an intelligent gambler.

Finally --- after the original poster has already taken advantage of this "once in a lifetime" opportunity, he should consider sharing with the rest of the group where this casino is. There will be others wishing to try this promotion out.
Donniee
Joined: Dec 28, 2015
• Posts: 40
February 14th, 2017 at 11:58:24 AM permalink
It seems that we've come to a conclusion that the \$250 buyin is the best option assuming you can handle the variance. The \$10 slots would Be the second.

If the wizard or someone with knowledge on the casino edge can please confirm whether or not my perspective on the \$250 buyin is correct? I greatly appreciate it!
odiousgambit
Joined: Nov 9, 2009
• Posts: 7293
February 14th, 2017 at 12:05:23 PM permalink
Quote: Donniee

Supposed I flat bet \$10 a hand on a game of 3 to 2 blackjack

Just to show these considerations can be tricky, BJ is not the best choice - I think because of the typical 'pay even money' rule likely here. As I understand it, you don't wind up with the normal HE because you can't double down with the chips etc.

If the even money rule is *not* in effect, do not do BJ for sure.

Note that in the Wizard link that BJ does not return as well as some of the others no matter low normal HE. It's not crazy to do BJ ... but if you are asking, no, not the best.

PS: yes, option #3 seems the way to go.
"Baccarat is a game whereby the croupier gathers in money with a flexible sculling oar, then rakes it home. If I could have borrowed his oar I would have stayed." .......... Mark Twain
Donniee
Joined: Dec 28, 2015
• Posts: 40
February 14th, 2017 at 12:19:21 PM permalink
Thank you so much. I am prettty sure that blackjack rules remain the same with the 3-2 payout on bj and double down allowed and etc.

I usually play ez baccarat and bet on banker. But that has a slightly higher house edge than 0.5%.
odiousgambit
Joined: Nov 9, 2009
• Posts: 7293
February 14th, 2017 at 12:41:51 PM permalink
Quote: Donniee

Thank you so much. I am prettty sure that blackjack rules remain the same with the 3-2 payout on bj and double down allowed and etc.

I usually play ez baccarat and bet on banker. But that has a slightly higher house edge than 0.5%.

If you put your promo chips down for a double down you may be told you have to use normal chips. Maybe someone else can explain better.
"Baccarat is a game whereby the croupier gathers in money with a flexible sculling oar, then rakes it home. If I could have borrowed his oar I would have stayed." .......... Mark Twain
Romes
Joined: Jul 22, 2014
• Posts: 4116
February 14th, 2017 at 12:49:55 PM permalink
Quote: odiousgambit

If you put your promo chips down for a double down you may be told you have to use normal chips. Maybe someone else can explain better.

This is a tricky scenario that is independent from casino to casino... or hell even from dealer to dealer.

At the same casino I've been allowed to double with free/match plays or promo chips, and been told I have to use real chips.

However the next dealer didn't care... Then the next dealer let me surrender and handed me back my free play entirely! Late surrender for 100% huh? Cool! The next dealer after that said I had to surrender the coupon if I wanted to surrender (thus you wouldn't want to surrender).

So it REALLY depends on the casino and the employees on what you can get away with... but one thing is certain: you should ask! Ask the BJ dealer "Hey, if I play this do I still get 3/2 on my blackjack?" and "Hey, if I play this and have to double or split, can I use more promo-chips or my free play?" Cuz if you get an 11v5 why wouldn't you want to get your coupon a 61% advantage? Finally if they have surrender I'd also ask what happens to promo chips and coupons when you surrender. These answers will more than likely drive whether or not you're playing Blackjack or Baccarat.

OP - As far as your "percent advantage" goes, it really isn't that hard to figure out... How much negative EV do you expect? How much positive EV do you expect?

Example
You can play blackjack with .5% HE with your \$250 promo chips. Let's pretend you bet 25 hands of \$10 (in promo chips) per hand.

EL(X hands) = (NumHands*AvgBet)*(HouseEdge)

EL(25 hands) = (25*10)*(-.005) = -\$1.25

So for playing these 25 hands, you could expect to give up \$1.25, but your reward would be two \$20 coupons. From here you could count and play them with a positive expectation, play them only on doubles with an advantage (if you're allowed) etc. Let's be generic though and as others have stated say they're worth about half their value (~\$10) so a total of \$20.

EV(2 \$20 FP's) = ~\$20

Total Net EV = SUM(All other EV/EL) = EL(25 hands) + EV(2 \$20 FP's) = -1.25 + 20 = 18.75

So normally if you were to play \$250 action through you'd lose \$1.25 (-.05%), but now with this "promotion" you're expecting to MAKE \$18.75 (x% advantage). Solve for X? =P

You're putting \$250 action through and expecting to make \$18.75... soooo Action*HE = EV ===> 250x = 18.75... x = 7.5%

7.5% total edge on the total "play."
Last edited by: Romes on Feb 14, 2017
Playing it correctly means you've already won.