vegasbaby
• Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 10, 2021
February 10th, 2021 at 5:41:31 PM permalink
A freshie made this comment to me from his video poker machine:
“…If one played \$1,000,000 on one 97% paytable/machine, one is GUARANTEED 97% of the total bets; one is guaranteed \$970,000….”

As a slot designer, with a few years in the industry, I cringed. I had been explaining the balance between strategy and luck for skill-based games as opposed to playing games of chance. I stated that strategy has to be perfectly applied, to achieve the stated RTP. And that it will vary, according to the number of hands.
So he revised his statement:
"There has to be a value that when played through that game GUARANTEES a return based on the stated RTP".

As designers, we have ways of providing strategy to encourage skill, math to support probabilities and the opportunity for the player to be lucky - But, I am not comfortable agreeing anything is 'guaranteed'. And, I took exception to the lack of respect the speaker had for the small print, 'if one plays perfect strategy', which he did not seem to be doing. Yet, as a game designer, we are tasked with creating an experience, often relying on the illusion of control to provide the player with the basic challenge and reward we all play for - I did not want to say anything further to dash all that!

The short of this is: is there any amount a player could put into one 97% video poker machine to guarantee he would get paid 97% of it back?

And what is a nice 'player safe' way to phrase it?
CrystalMath
• Posts: 1911
Joined: May 10, 2011
February 10th, 2021 at 6:08:08 PM permalink
It's variance, not luck.

There is no "guarantee" and it all depends on the game (variance), wager and how many hands. Of course, it also depends on the player using perfect strategy.

If the player plays a \$100 denom game, this only represents 2000 games. The variance will be enormous. What if they play a \$0.25 game - that is 800,000 games, which will have much lower variance.
I heart Crystal Math.
gordonm888
• Posts: 5127
Joined: Feb 18, 2015
February 10th, 2021 at 6:55:11 PM permalink
I think the OP is referring to a skill-based game and is concerned that players with little or zero skill are not guaranteed anything.

Haven't we all seen clueless blackjack players make terrible plays? I don't care what return you calculate for a blackjack game, if a player starts splitting TT or hitting 16 vs 6 or doubling on a hard 12, they are NOT likely to achieve the return you calculate.

I have seen a young man bet all his bankroll, \$200, betting on a Jack-high in 4-card Poker. If you know that game, you understand that he had a very small chance (<4% ?) of winning.

In video poker, a clueless player can make plenty of decisions that will reduce the RTP way below the value that is on the WOO site. Like discarding a small pair to draw to 3 suited cards.
So many better men, a few of them friends, are dead. And a thousand thousand slimy things live on, and so do I.
HokusPokus
• Posts: 78
Joined: Feb 6, 2021
February 10th, 2021 at 8:25:04 PM permalink
Can someone please help me? I've been designing games for almost 4 years now but I'm new to the gambling industry. Something doesn't sound correct when you're talking about skilled-based games. Maybe I don't know better but I thought skilled based games were different than strategy based games? You keep saying skilled based games but then reference the strategy behind the game? I'm confused, are the type of games your discussing skilled based or strategy based???
charliepatrick
• Posts: 2967
Joined: Jun 17, 2011
February 11th, 2021 at 2:10:45 AM permalink
It might be easier to think of games as either requiring (i) no skill, (ii) tactics/strategy/skill, or (iii) some kind of physical skill.

Examples would be (i) Roulette (ii) Blackjack, 3-Card Poker (iii) Coconut sky at fairground games, Horse race betting.
(i) Ignoring ball tracking etc. you make your bet and the outcome is independent of any further action by yourself.
(ii) You may have decisions to make during the game and using the "perfect strategy" achieves the stated "House Edge" (e.g. play Q64 but fold Q63).
(iii) There's no fixed "strategy" to follow but more skilful players will tend to do better.

If you're in the gambling industry then I imagine it would tend to be the first two categories of games you're dealing with.
gordonm888
• Posts: 5127
Joined: Feb 18, 2015
February 11th, 2021 at 4:33:24 PM permalink
Some strategies are very complex and are either not completely known or otherwise cannot practically be memorized.

Examples: Pai Gow Poker - has an incredibly complex "perfect strategy" and I doubt any player has memorized it and plays it perfectly

Ultimate Texas Hold-em has lots of obscure strategies for how to make post-flop decisions for rare borderline hands. Very few players can play perfect strategy. Similarly, no one knows all the perfect strategies for every possible hand of 4-card poker.

Russian (Lunar?) poker has a very complex strategy that virtually no one can memorize and apply.

So the house edge for these games is a theoretical number calculated by a computer that players can approach but most can never achieve. We refer to players who know many of the optimal decisions as being "skillful" at these games. Its just terminology.
So many better men, a few of them friends, are dead. And a thousand thousand slimy things live on, and so do I.
HokusPokus
• Posts: 78
Joined: Feb 6, 2021
February 11th, 2021 at 9:43:17 PM permalink
I'm sorry but in still having a difficult time understanding everyone. But it almost sounds like your saying strategy is a skill??? Charlie says "It might be easier to think of games as either requiring (i) no skill, (ii) tactics/strategy/skill, or (iii) some kind of physical skill." but this doesn't make sense to me. Your categorizing tactics as separate from strategy and your separating mental and physical skills, but can't games have skill and not strategy or strategy & no skill? "There's no fixed "strategy" to follow but more skillful players will tend to do better." Why do skillful players do better at strategy? I'm so lost.

Gordon says "We refer to players who know many of the optimal decisions as being "skillful" at these games. Its just terminology." Wouldn't you refer to those players as strategist players and players that are good at skills as skillful???
Venthus
• Posts: 1125
Joined: Dec 10, 2012
February 12th, 2021 at 1:52:43 AM permalink
It sounds to me like a conflict between what is strictly accurate and common parlance, barring some unusual circumstances.

Like, defining a "skilled blackjack player" as "somebody who plays with a mathematical advantage" would probably be generally agreed upon, even though the extent of 'skill' in this case is being able to memorize a series of conditions and keeping track of which condition is currently active. Alternatively, the ability to follow strategy can be considered a skill.

Keep in mind that the legal definition of skill-based gaming is also different based on the jurisdiction-- In some parts of the world, poker is a game of chance. In others, it's a game of skill. (And in some cases, what's legally considered skill-based gaming is downright stupid, from a real-world perspective.)

What kind of game design have you done before? It might be easier to draw a parallel from there.
HokusPokus
• Posts: 78
Joined: Feb 6, 2021
February 12th, 2021 at 8:05:27 PM permalink
Repeat
HokusPokus
• Posts: 78
Joined: Feb 6, 2021
February 12th, 2021 at 8:05:27 PM permalink
Quote: Venthus

It sounds to me like a conflict between what is strictly accurate and common parlance, barring some unusual circumstances.

Like, defining a "skilled blackjack player" as "somebody who plays with a mathematical advantage" would probably be generally agreed upon, even though the extent of 'skill' in this case is being able to memorize a series of conditions and keeping track of which condition is currently active. Alternatively, the ability to follow strategy can be considered a skill.

Keep in mind that the legal definition of skill-based gaming is also different based on the jurisdiction-- In some parts of the world, poker is a game of chance. In others, it's a game of skill. (And in some cases, what's legally considered skill-based gaming is downright stupid, from a real-world perspective.)

What kind of game design have you done before? It might be easier to draw a parallel from there.

I had no idea that there was a legal definition for skilled based game. You seem to know a lot about gambling games, maybe I could mentor under you? I had a mentor before who taught me that skill & strategy were 2 separate things. Been designing games for almost 3 years now, just card games like exploding kittens. Been trying to figure out a new gambling game but all the games I come up with on a deck of cards all seem either basic or a copy of multiple different game mechanics from other games. I've used all kinds of different deck designs for my games to get the game mechanics how I like it, maybe you could help with some ideas on how to get some fresh ideas from the old 52?
Venthus
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February 12th, 2021 at 9:39:50 PM permalink
I suspect it might be because my age is lower than the average in here, and my hobbies lie in a different direction, so I have an alternative perspective a lot of things. (And incidentally, I picked up a copy of Throw Throw Burrito back towards the start of COVID, so... no stranger to the Exploding Kittens brand either!)

You might want to take a look at: https://wizardofvegas.com/forum/gaming-business/game-inventors/ ...but be aware that it's a brutal industry to break into because, as you've noticed, a lot of the good ideas that are also marketable are taken. I think the last mostly-new idea that saw a modest success was High Card Flush, which was launched around 2011 (according to one source).

Utilizing 'universal' mechanics to put something together isn't a bad idea, as long as you don't run afoul of patents... for example, Hall owns the push-22 thing for BJ, which is seen in a number of successful BJ variants (Switch, Freebet, and the rather unsuccessful Zombie). Don't forget you can also remove cards (like a Spanish deck), or add them (Pai Gow Poker). Purely digital games that utilize mechanics that aren't physically feasible are an option too.
HokusPokus
• Posts: 78
Joined: Feb 6, 2021
February 14th, 2021 at 11:23:13 AM permalink
Thank you, your insight is very helpful. Would you like to mentor me? I promise I won't let you down.
vegasbaby
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March 8th, 2021 at 5:10:37 PM permalink
No, the statement made by the freshie was that, there had to be an amount, when played through, that "guaranteed" him 97% RTP, on a game with a 97%RTP paytable.
My response was there are many factors that make up the texture of the experience, and the experience is programmed to meet the published expectation - that is, the programming is designed to serve the paytable as delivered - legally.
The variances that make one play session positive and another negative still do not 'guarantee' everyone gets 97% RTP, even if each person put in 1,000,000. There just is no number, that when put into any video poker machine, that makes that machine pay back 97%, on a 97%RTP paytable...

Unless there is? my question is, on his rather uneducated statement, is there any number of total bet that when fed into one 97% machine that has to return 97% of that total amount bet?

I was pretty frustrated trying to explain things like hit frequency as part of the equation, or that for the numbers to work out, over so many outcomes, to meet the stated RTP, one had to play perfect strategy, blah, blah, blah...and he still insisted, there had to be one number of outcomes, in the design, that when played to that number, one had to experience the stated RTP.

As a game designer, but not of video poker, we certainly have numbers we use to contain payouts, to meet the legal parameters of the jurisdiction, the paytable, the client, whatever...but that number is not something that is part of the outward facing design - it is used to force the desired pay and play experience in a game of chance, not a game of skill, so of I am out of my element to dissuade this person from believing there is an amount he could put into a 97% RTP machine and be guaranteed 97% of his total bets.

Thoughts?