PokerGrinder
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September 30th, 2015 at 1:17:30 PM permalink
I wasn't really sure which section to put this thread in, I played Video Poker with my free play so I guess it fits into this area.

My question is when it comes to free play, is video poker the best method to realize as much value out of it? On occasion I will find a slot machine that seems intriguing and play max bets until the free play is gone trying to hit "a big one". I know this is not the best method to get the most value but it is fun sometimes.

Next question is what is my expected value? I had $35 in free play from a new casino card sign up, easily the highest from one casino, on one visit that I have ever received without previously playing there. I clearly got lucky because I hit quad 4's on JoB for a total win of $63.75 on the free play, but even without the quads the other $33.75 of free play I played netted $32.50 which seems a touch high. The machine paytable was not good. Full house paid 7 and flush paid 5 per credit bet. So math guys what was my expected value?
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. — Amarillo Slim Preston
Avincow
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September 30th, 2015 at 4:48:05 PM permalink
Multiply the return of the game by the amount of free play for expected value. For 9/6 JOB, you do $35*.995 = $34.83. I don't know the return for 7/5 job offhand, probably < 97%. Why were you playing that?
PokerGrinder
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October 1st, 2015 at 1:12:08 AM permalink
Quote: Avincow

Multiply the return of the game by the amount of free play for expected value. For 9/6 JOB, you do $35*.995 = $34.83. I don't know the return for 7/5 job offhand, probably < 97%. Why were you playing that?


Small casino, only 2 game kings in the casino. Not much option.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. — Amarillo Slim Preston
AxelWolf
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October 1st, 2015 at 3:38:28 AM permalink
Quote: PokerGrinder

I wasn't really sure which section to put this thread in, I played Video Poker with my free play so I guess it fits into this area.

My question is when it comes to free play, is video poker the best method to realize as much value out of it? On occasion I will find a slot machine that seems intriguing and play max bets until the free play is gone trying to hit "a big one". I know this is not the best method to get the most value but it is fun sometimes.

Next question is what is my expected value? I had $35 in free play from a new casino card sign up, easily the highest from one casino, on one visit that I have ever received without previously playing there. I clearly got lucky because I hit quad 4's on JoB for a total win of $63.75 on the free play, but even without the quads the other $33.75 of free play I played netted $32.50 which seems a touch high. The machine paytable was not good. Full house paid 7 and flush paid 5 per credit bet. So math guys what was my expected value?

Sure this is a great place to ask questions like this. Many will jump in and answer this question to show they are good at this. But you used the term "math guys". That's way way underneath the "math guys" ability. It's like me asking you what's 1+1 because you're a "math guy".

This VP question is so simple that you really should be asking how to get the answer, not what's the answer.

Making it easy: Get a program that tells you the payback of VP. Free on WOO. (7/5 Jacks or better ?) Then use that to calculate your Expected loss. On $35 coin in that's a very small number. It's a very easy task that you should learn. Any non math person can do it, it's very simple.

It's - about 1% per each coin less on the full house and flush payable. 9/6 = 99.54 7/5 is 3 coins less. Minus approx 1% per coin given. - about 3%. 35 coin in -about 3%.
♪♪Now you swear and kick and beg us That you're not a gamblin' man Then you find you're back in Vegas With a handle in your hand♪♪ Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you're able In the land of casinos and money You must put them on the table♪♪ You go back Jack do it again roulette wheels turinin' 'round and 'round♪♪ You go back Jack do it again♪♪
AlanMendelson
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October 1st, 2015 at 4:29:36 AM permalink
Since I'm not a math guy I can give you better answers. But first a question: did you have to use the free play on a machine?

If a machine was your only option then yes 7/5;Jacks was most likely your best option because of a combination of the pay table and the variance. You should have a winning hand at least one third of the time on Jacks but a win could be breaking even.

If the free play was good at tables, say 7 $5 chips there are more questions:

Must the chips be used for even money bets or could they be used for any bet? Are the chips good till they lose or chips you can only use once? These factors will influence how to bet the chips.

It's not just the expected return -- it's also the utility.

Don't get wrapped up only in the expected return.
Romes
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October 1st, 2015 at 7:16:44 AM permalink
Most everyone covered your answer, but I didn't 'exactly' see what I wanted so I'll throw it in as well...

Your Expected Return (ER) is the amount of your free play times the house edge. WOO has free VP calculators that will tell you the HE %, for ANY VP game/pay table, by just plugging in the paytable.

https://wizardofodds.com/games/video-poker/strategy/calculator/

Assuming all other payouts are "normal" but 7/5 for FH/Flush, it shows the return to be 96%, or about a 4% house edge. A quick "trick" that's "generally close" off hand is for every 1 less than 9/6, take a percent away from the HE. This will get you "close" to the actual without having to pull the web pages up on your phone, etc...

I.E.
9/6 is 99.54... if we take one away either way (9/5 or 8/6) take 1% off, so 98.5%... if we go down to 8/5 take 1% off, so 97.5%... if we go down to 7/5 take 1% off, so 96.5%.

You can see this is pretty close to the actual percentages:
9/6 = 99.54
9/5 or 8/6 = 98.5
8/5 = 97.3
7/5 = 96.2

Next, I want to discuss how VP is technically NOT the best mathematical play for free play. Not only did Alan cover something important (can you get free play chips that play until you lose) but assuming you just get table tickets ($5 each) to use once on 7 different hands, you're much better off playing something that has a higher expected return that 7/5 JoB (96.2%). Anything that has lower than a 4% house edge is a better game, such as pass/don't pass in craps (~1.4%). The best is whatever the lowest house edge table game they offer... which is usually blackjack. At even a POOR game of blackjack the house edge is usually about .66%. This is SIX TIMES BETTER than your 7/5 video poker.

EV($35 on 7/5 VP), or I should say Expected Return (ER) = 35*(.962) = $33.67
EV($35 on .5% BJ), or I should say Expected Return (ER) = 35*(.995) = $34.83

I hope you see the subtle difference too. If you LOVE VP and prefer it over table games, then sure, go ahead and play VP. It's costing you a tad over $1, but if that's what you love that's what you love. To "technically" answer your question though, VP is NOT the best game to play free play on (pending if you can get table game vouchers). If you can get table game free play CHIPS that you can use over and over again, well then this becomes a bit of a more lopsided battle because your ER will go up even more for the table games.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
Ibeatyouraces
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October 1st, 2015 at 7:47:58 AM permalink
I use mine VUXing, so I get OVER 100% expected return :-D
DUHHIIIIIIIII HEARD THAT!
Romes
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October 1st, 2015 at 7:50:20 AM permalink
Quote: Ibeatyouraces

I use mine VUXing, so I get OVER 100% expected return :-D

This, or if you only use your table free plays in a positive count you're getting over 100% on them as well =D!
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
Ibeatyouraces
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October 1st, 2015 at 7:58:47 AM permalink
Quote: Romes

This, or if you only use your table free plays in a positive count you're getting over 100% on them as well =D!


Agreed. When I used to get free bets, I used them in negative counts though instead of actual chips. But that's when I was a regular counter which I'm not any longer.

I have $120 fp today. Let's see how it goes.
DUHHIIIIIIIII HEARD THAT!
AxelWolf
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October 1st, 2015 at 9:13:41 AM permalink
Quote: AlanMendelson

Since I'm not a math guy I can give you better answers. But first a question: did you have to use the free play on a machine?

If a machine was your only option then yes 7/5;Jacks was most likely your best option because of a combination of the pay table and the variance. You should have a winning hand at least one third of the time on Jacks but a win could be breaking even. .

I believe its 45.50% of the time.
♪♪Now you swear and kick and beg us That you're not a gamblin' man Then you find you're back in Vegas With a handle in your hand♪♪ Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you're able In the land of casinos and money You must put them on the table♪♪ You go back Jack do it again roulette wheels turinin' 'round and 'round♪♪ You go back Jack do it again♪♪
Dieter
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October 1st, 2015 at 12:07:27 PM permalink
Quote: PokerGrinder

My question is when it comes to free play, is video poker the best method to realize as much value out of it?



It depends.

There are three factors to balance - RTP (7/5 JoB should be a bit over 96%), Variance, and number of rounds.

Video Blackjack is often more useful, because it's lower variance. You can often bet 25 or 50 cents at a time and get enough rounds to even out the variance.

Electronic roulette is often not allowed as a freeplay option, because of the cancellation betting opportunity. If you find it is available, and want to trade return for 0 variance, go for it. You're in the same ballpark as 7/5 JoB or most 2 for 1 VBJ (94.7% for roulette), and you can usually play off your entire offer in 2 minutes or less with zero variance - you know you'll get exactly a certain amount.

VUXing is higher RTP, but with much higher variance and significantly more time looking.

My preferences for cashing out freeplay are: VUX, 3 line BP, VBJ. Roulette is on the list, if it's an option (but it usually is not). Single line VP is only slightly better than older IGT slots, IMO - the variance is still wicked harsh.
May the cards fall in your favor.
djatc
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October 1st, 2015 at 5:47:56 PM permalink
Do you want to be as close as you can to the freeplay amount you were given for THIS particular session? Play a game with low volatility.

Do you want to be as close as you can to the freeplay in terms of value? Play the best returning game.

Personally I like JoB if there is a choice in playing it on video poker. Bonus poker is another one as well. You only give up the return on the full house. I like multiplay as well, 100 or 50 play usually smooths out the variance.
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RS
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October 2nd, 2015 at 2:24:17 AM permalink
Quote: Romes


Your Expected Return (ER) is the amount of your free play times the house edge.



Close!

ER = (1-HE) * FP

Return = 1-HE

ER = Return * FP

ie: Expected Return = 0.96 * $35

or

= (1-0.04) * $35

assuming $35 in FP.



I agree with AlexWulf - you should be asking how to solve the problem, NOT what is the answer.



Regarding table-chips, if that's even an option, "play till you lose" are the best, valued slightly less than 100% of their face value...just take away the HE from the face-value and that's what they're worth.

If they are taken on both wins and losses, then they have a value below 50% of face-value. If this is the only kind of free-play you can get, you should do slot play instead. If you can only do table free-bets, your best bet is on the don't-pass or on the pass-line in craps, assuming they only pay even-money.

If they pay out at true odds [which is rare, at least here in LV]...then your best bet is to bet a number straight up on roulette. The value is 35/38, or 92%.

Ranked BEST to WORST:

Free slot play if you can find a great machine, 99.5%+
Table chips - play till you lose : blackjack
Free slot play - any game greater than 92% return
Table free-bets - taken on a win or loss, pays odds : any number roulette straight up
Table free-bets - taken on a win or loss, only pays even money : line bet on craps OR player/banker on bacarrat


Of course, there are other "weird" games you can play, but a strategy must be learned for them. Of course, the casino would have to allow such a bet. Some don't. For example, you can (sometimes) use your free-bet as your "play" bet (NOT ANTE) in Three-card poker. Doing so usually confuses the sh*t out of the dealer and floor people. But I believe TCP is the best way (EV wise, at least) to use a free-bet. The strategy is not the same. I believe you play something like K-6-2 with real money and anything worse than that you use your free-bet. I don't know why, but, it's in Grosjean's book. As far as I'm concerned (and many others), Grosjean has never been wrong.
Ibeatyouraces
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October 2nd, 2015 at 6:03:17 AM permalink
Everyone should download this...

http://www.blackjackforumonline.com/content/beyondcouponsbjfo.pdf
DUHHIIIIIIIII HEARD THAT!
beachbumbabs
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October 2nd, 2015 at 3:24:58 PM permalink
Quote: Ibeatyouraces

Everyone should download this...

http://www.blackjackforumonline.com/content/beyondcouponsbjfo.pdf



Wow. That's gold. Thanks, IBYA!
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
PokerGrinder
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October 4th, 2015 at 2:30:35 PM permalink
Thank you for all the answers. The free play had to be used on a machine, tables were not an option.

Romes I play both table games and VP but I do take free play in chips when possible.
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. — Amarillo Slim Preston
Ajaxx
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September 15th, 2019 at 4:48:51 AM permalink
RS already partially corrected this post, but never directly pointed out or explained what was wrong, so I wanted to chime in with a more thorough response. For the record, I think the mistake here was very understandable, so I intend no ill will - just hoping that Romes might see this and edit the original post, since this one, RS's and any future discussion will hidden from most people on page 2 of this thread.

The expected value calculation Romes gave for free play on a video poker machine - namely, multiply the dollar amount by the RTP (that is, the return-to-player, i.e. 100% minus the house edge) - is correct, but deceptively simple. I say deceptive because, while it is tempting to apply this easy $ × RTP formula to all casino games - as Romes unfortunately did on the very next line when he incorrectly calculated the EV for $35 in one-time-use table tickets on blackjack as $34.83 - it actually only works because machines (like slots and video poker) take money from the player in a fundamentally different way than do table games.

It is tempting to look at a pay table for, say, a 7/5/4/3/2/1 Jacks or Better game and think that the "1" means a high pair pays 1-to-1 like an even-money blackjack base bet or red/black roulette bet, where a winning $1 bet is kept by the player and earns an additional $1 in profit. Likewise, you might think the "2" means that two pair pays 2-to-1 like insurance in blackjack or a column in roulette, where $1 bet wins $2 in profit, and so on. But unlike blackjack or roulette, video poker and slot machines charge you 1 unit upfront for every hand, and that loss is not included in the pay table. In other words, a video poker pay table is a revenue table, not a profit table, as table games players are accustomed to seeing. If table game payouts were written in this way, even money bets like the blackjack base bet would be presented as "2-for-1" instead of the equivalent "1-to-1", because we would be imagining that the house takes your bet before the hand even begins, and then returns 2 times your original bet if you win; half of that (1 unit) covers your original wager and the other half (1 unit) is your profit. In this framework, we would say that a push or tie pays "1-for-1" instead of the equivalent "0-to-1"; both phrasings tell us that we end up with $0 in profit, but the former would be more appropriate if the house actually took your original bet upfront, and then returned it only in the event of a push.

So, contrary to the belief of many, if you bet a $1 on a Jacks or Better machine and get a pair of aces, you do not make $1 in profit. It's a push; all you get is your original $1 bet back, with $0 in profit.

I used the word "equivalent" above when switching between describing bets in terms of revenue ("(n+1)-for-1") and profits ("n-to-1"), but those two forms are actually only equivalent if we are betting real money. It's a different story with one-time-use free play or free bets - which, as the renowned James Grosjean describes in the Beyond Counting article that Ibeatyouraces linked to, are equivalent to a loss rebate. Simply put, this means that using $5 free play coupons is completely equivalent to playing a session with regular $5 chips purchased with your own real money, but with one-time "get-out-of-jail-free" vouchers placed next to each bet. If your bet wins, the dealer pays you as usual but takes the voucher and shreds it - it's as if the voucher never existed. If your bet loses, though, the dealer signs the voucher after they take your money, and at the end of the session you get to walk to the cage and trade in each signed voucher for $5 cash; this is the house covering your losses, so that you have essentially just played for free. In other words, the expected value of free play is the same as the expected value of playing a casino game with your own money, and then receiving a bonus at the end of your session equal to the total dollar amount of all your losing bets. That's why, even though the 5.26% house edge on double-zero is much worse than the ~0.5% house edge on standard blackjack, it's way better to use one-time free bet chips (what Romes describes as "table tickets to use once") by betting a single number on roulette than placing a blackjack wager; those free bets are loss rebates which make a difference only when we lose, so our end-of-session bonus will be maximized if we place bets that almost always lose, and wasted on a game like blackjack where we only lose half the time. For specific numbers on this, check out the Wizard of Odds article entitled "Promotional, Match-Play, and Non-Negotiable Chips."

So - and bless you if you are still reading at this point - here is the upshot. Romes's calculation, where Free Play Expected Value (EV) = $ × Return-to-player (RTP) - is valid only in games like slots and video poker where you essentially lose on every hand (i.e. the house starts by taking your money, and then pays you back out of their own pocket for a push or a win). If you bet $10 in free play per hand on 7/5 Jacks or Better, it's completely equivalent to betting $10 of your own real cash on every hand - of which you'd expect to end up with $9.62 remaining after the hand - and then getting a guaranteed rebate/bonus of +$10 for every hand you play. So you're essentially spending $0.38 per hand (on average) in order to qualify for a $10 rebate, giving an expected value of $9.62. If only blackjack were set up this way... you could tie the dealer the entire time and watch your free bet chips turn into cash as the house takes them to start each hand and pays you back 1-for-1 in real chips with each push.

For the mathematically inclined, here is the correct formula, which is just adding the loss you take on your own cash to the rebate:

Free Play EV = $ × [House Edge (HE)] + $ × [Probability of "Losing"]

The EV = $ × [RTP, a.k.a. 1 - HE] for video poker is actually just a special case that arises because the probability of "losing" (i.e. of the house taking your original wager) is 100%:

EV = $ × [HE] + $ × [P. of "Losing"] ≈ $35 × [-0.038] + $35 × [1.000] = $35 × [1.000 - 0.038] = $35 × [0.962] = $35 × [0.962] ≈ $33.65

For blackjack, the house edge much closer to zero, but we end up losing or surrendering just over half the time following basic strategy, which is roughly-speaking why one-time free bet chips are worth only about half their face value on blackjack (and why, to get the most bang for your buck, you should make several high-risk deviations from basic strategy when playing promotional chips).
Last edited by: Ajaxx on Sep 15, 2019
"Not only [does] God play dice... he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." ~ Stephen Hawking
kubikulann
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September 15th, 2019 at 8:59:08 AM permalink
Thank you so much, Ajaxx !
Clear and bright, such a help for those of us mathematically inclined but confused by the various terms: loss rebate, bonus play, coupon, free bet, etc.
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GWAE
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September 15th, 2019 at 2:32:36 PM permalink
boy that was a lot of words from a brand new member on a 4 year old post. I hate when that happens and I didnt realize and read the entire thread. Glad it was a short one. I wonder if that is why trip advisor makes threads inactive after a certain time frame.
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unJon
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September 15th, 2019 at 3:00:05 PM permalink
Quote: GWAE

boy that was a lot of words from a brand new member on a 4 year old post. I hate when that happens and I didnt realize and read the entire thread. Glad it was a short one. I wonder if that is why trip advisor makes threads inactive after a certain time frame.



Yeah but it was a really good post.
The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but that is the way to bet.
kubikulann
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September 16th, 2019 at 2:28:14 AM permalink
Quote: GWAE

boy that was a lot of words from a brand new member on a 4 year old post. I hate when that happens and I didnt realize and read the entire thread. Glad it was a short one. I wonder if that is why trip advisor makes threads inactive after a certain time frame.

Why so much hate?
Is anything troubling you in real life? Preventing you from looking at the date of the first post in a thread? Please lay on the couch and tell us. Even in an old thread, that’s OK, we won’t mind...

Some threads should deserve some sort of Classic status. Meaning they are still valid and instructing years later.
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michael99000
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September 16th, 2019 at 9:10:39 AM permalink
Quote: kubikulann


Some threads should deserve some sort of Classic status. Meaning they are still valid and instructing years later.



That level of honor is reserved for threads like Nathan’s Corner, Hot Blonde Challenge, Hi I’m Jennie ..
GWAE
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September 16th, 2019 at 12:51:57 PM permalink
Quote: kubikulann

Why so much hate?
Is anything troubling you in real life? Preventing you from looking at the date of the first post in a thread? Please lay on the couch and tell us. Even in an old thread, that’s OK, we won’t mind...

Some threads should deserve some sort of Classic status. Meaning they are still valid and instructing years later.



Not really much hate. Hard to have a conversation with someone that wrote something make y years ago. I would bet when the thread popped up PG didnt even know it was his thread.
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Ajaxx
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September 16th, 2019 at 1:42:59 PM permalink
Quote: GWAE

Not really much hate. Hard to have a conversation with someone that wrote something [many] years ago.


No worries - didn't seem like hate to me.

And I agree - if having a conversation with Romes or PokerGrinder directly was the goal, reviving an old thread would be the wrong way to do that. I just wanted to post a public correction because I came across this thread the other day (before I made a WoV account) when Googling best practices for using free play, and since that is a perpetually-relevant question, I'd guess I'm not the only person who has or will stumble upon it looking for answers. So when I saw that this post —
Quote: Romes

...if you only use your table free plays in a positive count you're getting over 100% on them as well =D!

— was seconded by another user on Page 1, I figured it was worth trying to get that corrected so people don't start asking for table free play instead of slot play and unwittingly throwing out half of their EV.
"Not only [does] God play dice... he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." ~ Stephen Hawking
beachbumbabs
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September 16th, 2019 at 5:48:23 PM permalink
Quote: Ajaxx

Quote: GWAE

Not really much hate. Hard to have a conversation with someone that wrote something [many] years ago.


No worries - didn't seem like hate to me.

And I agree - if having a conversation with Romes or PokerGrinder directly was the goal, reviving an old thread would be the wrong way to do that. I just wanted to post a public correction because I came across this thread the other day (before I made a WoV account) when Googling best practices for using free play, and since that is a perpetually-relevant question, I'd guess I'm not the only person who has or will stumble upon it looking for answers. So when I saw that this post — — was seconded by another user on Page 1, I figured it was worth trying to get that corrected so people don't start asking for table free play instead of slot play and unwittingly throwing out half of their EV.



Should go in the hall of fame for quality first posts. Thanks for the correction, the dissection of the numbers, and welcome to the board.
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BTLWI
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September 24th, 2019 at 7:21:54 AM permalink
I can't be the only one that doesn't agree with that post. I must be missing something.

If I have $5 free play and draw JJ367 I'm cashing out $5 profit.
odiousgambit
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September 25th, 2019 at 7:51:09 AM permalink
Quote: GWAE

Not really much hate. Hard to have a conversation with someone that wrote something make y years ago. I would bet when the thread popped up PG didnt even know it was his thread.

I've read some posts on an old thread that popped up like that, only to check and see I wrote that myself years ago and don't remember it. Sometimes I think the post didn't make a good point necessarily!

When I get in an argument with myself, without knowing it, hooboy, that might do some damage LOL
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vegas
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September 25th, 2019 at 9:02:53 PM permalink
Quote: odiousgambit

I've read some posts on an old thread that popped up like that, only to check and see I wrote that myself years ago and don't remember it. Sometimes I think the post didn't make a good point necessarily!

When I get in an argument with myself, without knowing it, hooboy, that might do some damage LOL





You could always block yourself!
50-50-90 Rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there is a 90% probability you'll get it wrong
Ajaxx
Ajaxx
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Joined: Sep 15, 2019
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kubikulann
September 29th, 2019 at 1:46:18 AM permalink
Quote: BTLWI

I can't be the only one that doesn't agree with that post. I must be missing something.

If I have $5 free play and draw JJ367 I'm cashing out $5 profit.



That's absolutely correct. What I was trying to say in the post is that, when using real money, JJ367 or any better pair earns you $0 in profit, because it costs 1 unit ($5 in your example) to play the hand and you gain only that 1 unit ($5) back from the 1-for-1 payoff. If you start with 1 credit in the machine, you'll see that number drop to 0 during the hand and then go right back up to where it started at 1. The same thing happens if you use free play - the number of credits will be the same before and after the JJ367 hand - but the "1 credit" before represents $5 of free play and the "1 credit" after is $5 of actual cash. In that scenario, as you said, you make 1 unit in profit because the house, via the free play, is covering your initial 1 unit cost to play the hand.

Annoyingly, when in the middle of playing off a bunch of free play, every VP machine I've used jumbles your real-cash winnings and your remaining free play amount together into that single "credits" number, so you have to manually keep track or cash out a lot to make sure you don't accidentally play an extra hand and dip into your real money.
"Not only [does] God play dice... he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." ~ Stephen Hawking
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