ukaserex
ukaserex
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November 23rd, 2015 at 10:48:46 AM permalink
I'm sure those that gamble on at least a somewhat regular basis get offers for free play.

One thing I've noticed is that some casinos are more than happy to award free play, while others offer it for slots only.

From a pure profit perspective - if gambling and profit on the play side is defined as just the cash returns and discounting hotels, meal comps, etc, it seems to me that VP free play is likely to provide a better return than slots.

So, I would like to know the varying opinions on why some casinos offer it for VP, and some do not.

Additionally, I'm curious if someone could somehow share with me a method for calculating the value of Free play on a slot as well as free play for VP.

Here's my circumstance, to shed some perspective.
I live about an hour away from the casinos on the Mississippi coast (Biloxi/Gulfport).

From a cost perspective, I have wear and tear on my car, plus gas.

What I'm trying to determine is when it would be "worth the trip" to go to the casinos. My free play was as much as $100 per week in the month of October, yet in November, they dropped it to $60, and for December, they've dropped it to $30. It seems to me my weekend trips are having a negative impact on my free play. I was getting more free play when I went less. Which kind of makes sense - why give any free play if the sucker comes here every week?

Yet, the greedy fool in me wants to get what I can out of them. So, of the various casinos I visit, since they're all close to each other, it makes sense to me to play the free play at each casino that provides it.

If someone told me they'd pay me $20 bucks to drive to Biloxi and drive back to Mobile, I would likely decline, even though it would pay for the gas and have some left over. The figure just seems too low for me. So, in my mind, $50 bucks is the lowest I'd accept for 2 hours of driving.

So - if my casino doesn't allow free play on a Video Poker machine - (Island View, Palace Casino Resort do not allow free play on VP machines) - how much free play is required for it to be "worth it"?

And, if they do allow free play on VP, how much is "worth it"?

How might I determine the theoretical win? Or is that even the right term?

This past weekend, I visited 4 casinos, just to get an idea.

IP - $15 - I played on a quarter machine, max coins (5) and after the 60 credits were played (12 hands), I had 60 credits. I cashed out and left. Too much smoke. Probably why it's such a low figure.

Boomtown - I had a $25, plus a "bonus" $10. That $35 got me $40, from a .50 JoB.

Island View - I had $35, but they don't allow VP free play, so I found what I'd call an older slot machine - 3 reels, 2 credits. A .25 machine. I figured that 70 pulls might get me something. It did. $9.

Palace Casino Resort - I had $70 in total. $60 for the week and a $10 bonus for the weekend. They don't allow free play on VP either, so I found a Double Diamond slot. 3 reels, 2 coins. I started with .25, but after 5 spins with nothing, I'd switch it up to .50 thinking illogically that it might be more inclined to hit after not hitting. (If I was purely rational, I wouldn't gamble in the first place) I got lucky, I suppose. Ended up with $72.

$136 - already worth the trip. But - I believe that I was lucky and that most free play for VP is worth about 90-95% of its value, and that slot play is worth much less - about 75% of the dollar value.

But, what I don't know is how to account for the switching of casinos, and as a result, the switching of machines.

Sure, in the long run, I can expect 95% payback from a JoB VP machine, maybe a bit more depending on my play and the pay scale, but aren't those numbers are if I stay on the same machine?

I know each hand has the possibility of being a royal, or drawing to a royal - but do those odds change when you hop from machine to machine? Or, can I assume random is still random?

I think I've just answered my own question - but just in case I'm misunderstood, I'm posting anyway, just to possibly get a more clear picture of the math.

Thanks.
"Those who have no idea what they are doing, genuinely have no idea that they don't know what they are doing." - John Cleese
Romes
Romes
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Thanks for this post from:
onenickelmiracle
November 23rd, 2015 at 12:23:31 PM permalink
Value of Free Play on Slots
The value is what you'd expect to get back after cycling through the free play once, so you can actually cash it out. Thus, what you're looking for is your Expected Return (ER). After you know how much you stand to lose, you know how much you stand to profit from your Free Play. In order to do this we need to find your Expected Loss (EL). EL = TotalWagered*HouseEdge, where TotalWagered = AvgBet*NumTrials (how many spins, etc).

For example: Say you have $100 free play, and you play a slot machine that allows you to play $5 per pull and has an 15% house edge. Well, that means you'll spin 20 times at $5 in order to wager all $100 in free play and be able to cash it out... Thus, ER = (5)*(20)*(-.15) = (100)*(-.15) = -$15. So if you plan to play $100 in free play, and you can expect to lose $15, on average, due to the house edge, then you stand to make $85 (on average) from your $100 of free play.

The main problem with slots is their house edges vary wildly. "Most" states have them regulated that they MUST have 85% return or higher. Some slots are at that 85% return (thus 15% house edge) while others might be in the 90's and only have a 5-10% house edge. Unfortunately slot machines don't ever tell you how much their house edge is. Shocking that casinos want you to gamble without even knowing the full details of the game, huh? If you're in a 'worst case scenario' and want to calculate your EL to know your ER, then just try to find out that states "minimum" slot return and use that as the house edge. In general, you'd probably be safe with about a 15% house edge on slots though.

Value of Free Play for VP
This is much, much more direct... mostly because the house edge is KNOWN for any game of VP. Hell, just plug in the pay table to The Wizard's VP calculator and it'll tell you the house edge. Then simply do the same thing... EL = TotalWagered*HouseEdge.

The reason 'some' more stingy casinos don't let you use your "FREE" Play on VP is because the average VP game has a house edge of around 2% (or less with proper strategy and decent pay tables). As you can tell this means the player will actually earn a lot more of their free play (on average) if they chose to play the lower house edge better game.

Free Play General Discussion
Do you gamble or play any other games when you go to redeem your free play? Some places (in fact one near me) will cut you off entirely if you go there, use your free play, then don't play anything else. Thus, it's not sustainable to just rely on free play and redemption. You'll need to calculate in the cost of actually playing a little bit... but what you could do is use your free play to counter act the house edge...

Say you have a 9-6 JoB video poker game... 99.54% payback for a house edge of .46% (with proper play). So let's pretend you put in $300 and play at the .50 level (single line). If you play at a moderate pace of about 500 hands per hour, with a bet of $2.50 per hand, in 1 hour your TotalWagered comes out to be $1,250... of which you'd expect to get back 99.54%. Your EL = (1,250)*(-.0046) = -$5.75.

So... in 1 hour of play at 9-6 JoB .50 level you could expect to only lose $5.75! Now what do you think this means for the $50 in free play or so you have??? Well, you could literally just sit and play the game "for free" essentially for about 9 hours. You will have variance, you might win/lose/etc in 1 given night... but I hope you see what this does to the house edge if you just sit and play for a couple hours.

1) You're giving them a couple hours of play, thus your Free Play offers will keep coming and might even go up if this is more than you normally play now.
2) So long as you don't accrue an expected loss greater than your current free play offer then you're playing at an ADVANTAGE, or at worse a "break even" scenario =).

Do understand though what I said about the variance of the game. Even if you're playing at an advantage you can still lose on any 1 given night due to Variance... but in the "long run" of doing this (like hundreds of thousands of hands) you WILL come out on top and win, because you're playing at an advantage.

NEXT

I've seen this and don't understand it very much either. If you're a regular, your Free Play offers might go down a little because they know you're a regular. Regardless if they send you Free Play or not you'll come in, so why waste the offer? They'll offer people who haven't come back in a while more as an incentive to get them to come back and play... and as they play more and more, becoming more of a stable regular, they'll taper off their free play offers.

My brother gets $40-$60 match plays because he only goes to the casino every other month of so, where as if I go once per week I get $5 free slot play offers =/. It seems silly not to keep your regulars happy, but they're trying to squeeze their regular players for every penny, which is a model I don't agree with but that's neither here nor there.

"WORTH IT" Requirements
So you're looking to make $50 out of the trip, in expected value from free play each time you go? Okay... given what I've told you thus far you should be able to calculate that. First, take the amount of free play you have at each casino. Next, take the best game you can run that through and find/calculate the house edge, unless it's slots, then guess the house edge (15% worst case scenario for slots - so something like 10% should be a good average). Next, calculate your Expected Loss simply from running the play through and thus you'll know how much all your free play is actually worth.

If total you get $100 in free play, but after playing it through on a mix of VP and slots at different places you expect to earn about $90 then the trip should be worth it to you. Don't forget to factor in gas, and wear and tear on your car (I'd suggest $20 per trip, so long as gas is near $2-$2.50 per gallon and you don't have a gas guzzler). 2 hours driving ~= 125 miles @ 25mpg = $12.50, plus future cost of maintenance to your car.

So this tells you if your cost of the trip is $20, and you want to MAKE that cost plus at least $30 (in expected value) that you need to be able to expect $50 in winnings from your free play.

*NOTE: In order to actually earn the full amount of free play on VP, you must know VP proper strategy for the game you're playing.
**NOTE: There is such a thing called VARIANCE. You might have days where you expect to win $50 and you win $500... then again you might LOSE money too! You will only come to this exact expected value in the long run of doing this once a week for YEARS. On average though, as far as free play and variance is concerned, you should win/earn money most of the time. It just might not be your exact Expected Value. So if you expect $50 you might only win $30, but remember it's still worth it because you EXPECT $50 and in the long run you will get that money back (from another trip where you expect $50 but make $100 or something when you hit a big hand eventually).

General Q/A
Switching casinos is essentially completely erroneous. All the calculations are exactly the same. You have X in Free Play, using the math above you EXPECT to make X - EL from your Free Play. Do that for all of the different places and add up how much you overall expect to make. If it's over $50 ($20 cost of trip and min $30 profit) then go =).

Hopping from machine to machine in VP is 100% erroneous as well. Each hand is it's own INDEPENDENT TRIAL. There is a random number generator that decides the cards for the hand and the draw. Being on one machine as opposed to another has absolutely no effect what so ever on the hands you're dealt/etc.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
GWAE
GWAE
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November 23rd, 2015 at 3:05:28 PM permalink
Daaaamn romes that was a lot of words. My comtributuon will probably be much less and maybe even repeated since I didn't read the entire post.

OP, determining if it is worth it is up to you. I am poor so for me i am willing to do it for much less than some people on here. Some may say their time is worth $100 an hour. An hour trip will cost approx $30 in gas and wear and tear. So for 4 hours in would need at least $80 in free play, but would prefer $100. Would be nice to have a food voucher as well or I would probably atop at Mcd or something on way home.

As far as game selection you should pick VP if allowed and play as low as possible. I would pick a $.05 game that pays 97.6 opposed to a $1 game that pays 99.6. I would sacrifice the ev to keep my variance lower.

If you have to play slots I would again play on the lower side. Maybe a 2 or 3 coin $.25 instead of $1 to keep variance lower.

Also keep in mind that if you start to do free play runs you are going to kill your ADT and you will quickly get no free play.
Expect the worst and you will never be disappointed. I AM NOT PART OF GWAE RADIO SHOW
Kentry
Kentry
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November 23rd, 2015 at 3:29:40 PM permalink
Ouch. 70 spins at a quarter each costs roughly $18 dollars. You only got roughly half your money back at $9. Ouch. Hurts so incredibly badly. :(
Dieter
Dieter 
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November 23rd, 2015 at 3:51:29 PM permalink
Quote: ukaserex

Additionally, I'm curious if someone could somehow share with me a method for calculating the value of Free play on a slot as well as free play for VP.



I typically figure 90% of face value on slots, and I try to look for the ones favored by chain-smoking little old ladies.

They seem to have figured out, over many years of direct research, which machines let their money last longer. That would translate to lowest edge/highest return, for our purposes.

Before you start playing, just watch them a bit... if they're getting fairly regular hits and more or less holding even (with a slow, gradual loss), those are the ones I want to play.
May the cards fall in your favor.
GWAE
GWAE
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November 23rd, 2015 at 4:23:05 PM permalink
Quote: Dieter

I typically figure 90% of face value on slots, and I try to look for the ones favored by chain-smoking little old ladies.

They seem to have figured out, over many years of direct research, which machines let their money last longer. That would translate to lowest edge/highest return, for our purposes.

Before you start playing, just watch them a bit... if they're getting fairly regular hits and more or less holding even (with a slow, gradual loss), those are the ones I want to play.



And absolutely do not play anything with a license.
Expect the worst and you will never be disappointed. I AM NOT PART OF GWAE RADIO SHOW
beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
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November 23rd, 2015 at 4:51:31 PM permalink
Quote: Romes

Value of Free Play on Slots
...

Free Play General Discussion
Do you gamble or play any other games when you go to redeem your free play? Some places (in fact one near me) will cut you off entirely if you go there, use your free play, then don't play anything else. Thus, it's not sustainable to just rely on free play and redemption. You'll need to calculate in the cost of actually playing a little bit... but what you could do is use your free play to counter act the house edge...

Say you have a 9-6 JoB video poker game... 99.54% payback for a house edge of .46% (with proper play). So let's pretend you put in $300 and play at the .50 level (single line). If you play at a moderate pace of about 500 hands per hour, with a bet of $2.50 per hand, in 1 hour your TotalWagered comes out to be $1,250... of which you'd expect to get back 99.54%. Your EL = (1,250)*(-.0046) = -$5.75.

So... in 1 hour of play at 9-6 JoB .50 level you could expect to only lose $5.75! Now what do you think this means for the $50 in free play or so you have??? Well, you could literally just sit and play the game "for free" essentially for about 9 hours. You will have variance, you might win/lose/etc in 1 given night... but I hope you see what this does to the house edge if you just sit and play for a couple hours.

1) You're giving them a couple hours of play, thus your Free Play offers will keep coming and might even go up if this is more than you normally play now.
2) So long as you don't accrue an expected loss greater than your current free play offer then you're playing at an ADVANTAGE, or at worse a "break even" scenario =).
...



I would emphasize this aspect even more than Romes did; unless you continue to give all 4 of these places your business well beyond the FP, it will stop or drop dramatically. So you have to have a BR, and probably some expectation of losses, in order to keep the FP coming. This adds significantly to the expense, but is sort of a hidden cost unless you simply want to collect your FP the one time and be done gambling there.
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
ukaserex
ukaserex
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November 24th, 2015 at 7:03:42 AM permalink
Wow. Awesome explanations. Thank you.

Please know that I appreciate the time spent.

Just to give some insight - initially, I told myself that it made no sense to spread my gaming out over several casinos. I prefer the Palace Casino Resort; no smoking policy means I don't have to reek of it while I play - or smell it, or inhale it.

I have always found ladies in their 20's and 30's to be quite sexy when smoking a cigarette; but when I see these elderly folks in the casino, lugging around their oxygen masks and swapping cigarettes for the oxygen mask, it reminds me of how awful those things are for my health.

But, the Palace does not have any $5 VP - the highest they have is $2. If I were a true AP player, I would probably stick to .25, and not seek out the $5. But there is quite a thrill of seeing a quad come up and getting $625, instead of $31.25.

Because of that - and the gumbo served at the IP Casino, I ventured out of PCR to see what changes had taken place to the casino since Katrina. I learned that Boomtown is a place that is more liberal with their free play - but is so laden with smoke, that I only go in there for the free play. When it ends, it ends.

Harrah's is better ventilated, but I've had some....heh, bad variance there. Down $2400 there. 6 trips, 6 losing sessions. It feels wrong to even step in the place, but with the free play they offer, I have to try to recoup a little of that with the free play.

IP - good gumbo, a non-smoking area, but the comps there seem to be pretty stingy.

I like PCR - just wish they had a $5 VP and I could use the free play on VP.


Thanks again, all.
"Those who have no idea what they are doing, genuinely have no idea that they don't know what they are doing." - John Cleese
Romes
Romes
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November 24th, 2015 at 7:08:57 AM permalink
Quote: ukaserex

...Because of that - and the gumbo served at the IP Casino, I ventured out of PCR to see what changes had taken place to the casino since Katrina. I learned that Boomtown is a place that is more liberal with their free play - but is so laden with smoke, that I only go in there for the free play. When it ends, it ends. ...

Glad you found the responses helpful. One last tid bit that I see from what you just posted... I would still (so long as it's not obnoxiously out of your way) stop and play at EVERY SINGLE CASINO at least ONCE. This way they will send you free plays and usually when you don't come back, then they send you higher ones to try to get you to come back. This is something that can work on itself in the background while you continue to go to the casinos you enjoy. Maybe 6 months down the road you open your mail and go "Wow that much from there? Eh, I guess I will stop by there today if they're just gonna give it away to me!" To me, it's worth the 1 time investment of going/playing at all of the different places. Options are never a bad thing =).
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
AxelWolf
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November 24th, 2015 at 7:38:44 AM permalink
Quote: GWAE

Daaaamn romes that was a lot of words. My comtributuon will probably be much less and maybe even repeated since I didn't read the entire post.

OP, determining if it is worth it is up to you. I am poor so for me i am willing to do it for much less than some people on here. Some may say their time is worth $100 an hour. An hour trip will cost approx $30 in gas and wear and tear. So for 4 hours in would need at least $80 in free play, but would prefer $100. Would be nice to have a food voucher as well or I would probably atop at Mcd or something on way home.

As far as game selection you should pick VP if allowed and play as low as possible. I would pick a $.05 game that pays 97.6 opposed to a $1 game that pays 99.6. I would sacrifice the ev to keep my variance lower.

If you have to play slots I would again play on the lower side. Maybe a 2 or 3 coin $.25 instead of $1 to keep variance lower.

Also keep in mind that if you start to do free play runs you are going to kill your ADT and you will quickly get no free play.

I never consider what my time is worth. I sometimes consider if I could be doing something better with my time.

I consider if I enjoy doing something or not. If there something worth "a free" steady $20 an hour. Something I enjoy doing, I'll do it. Example, if they have a .25 FPDW with extra bonuses on various hands that's worth $20 per hr all day long I'll play it.

If I have to drive across town to pick up $20 in FP, it's probably going to expire. I probably wouldn't miss a $50 BJ match play at the same location because I enjoy doing it.
♪♪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♪♪

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