John Grochowski

John Grochowski

Connor is a New York player with a difference: He’s been spending his down time trying to see what he can glean from casino revenue reports.

“They tell us how much casinos are earning from slot machines, from table games, from sports betting,” he said via email. “Those have to give me some clue as to what and where to play, don’t they?”

There is information to be mined from revenue reports, but it can be misleading and shouldn’t be taken as a firm guide on where and what to play. Slot payback percentages can include statistical anomalies due to short-term samples, and are subject to change as old games make way for new.

And, as Connor learned, “casino win percentage” means different things on tables and slots.

As one who’s played in New Jersey as well as New York and Connecticut, Connor decided to invest a little online time in looking over Atlantic City revenue reports.

“This is the first time I’ve ever looked at the online reports,” he said. “There’s a line for ‘peer-to-peer games.’ There are numbers for Borgata, Caesars and Resorts, but it’s blank for everyone else. What’s that about?”

Peer-to-peer games involve players betting against each other, and that’s mainly online poker.

There are seven online poker sites in New Jersey. Each must partner with a land-based casino, but the land-based casinos may be associated with multiple sites. Currently, only the three land-based casinos Connor named have online poker partners.

Connor’s other question is one that comes up every so often.

“I looked at February, before the shutdowns, and at every live casino, the casino win percentage was higher on tables than on slots.

“On slots, the percentages ranged from 8.3 to 10.2 percent, while on tables they were from 11.4 to 21.2 percent.

“Have I been playing the wrong games? I always thought table games had lower house edges, but that says casinos keep a bigger share of your bets on tables than on slots.”

The problem is that the same terminology is being used to describe different things.

In February, Harrah’s Atlantic City had both the highest casino win percentage on tables at 21.2 percent and the lowest on slots at 8.3 percent.

That doesn’t mean the slots were better bets. The casino win percentage on tables is based on the share of your buy-in kept by the casino. On slots, it’s based on total wagers.

On slots, if you start by sliding $100 in the bill validator, you’re unlikely to stop at $100 worth of wagers. You’ll use wins to fund additional spins.

If you make $1,200 worth of wagers before you your $100, the casino win percentage is the $100 it won divided by the $1,200 in wagers. Multiplied by 100 to convert to percent, that’s 8.3 percent.

Now let’s say you play blackjack. You buy in for $100, then use some of your winning bets to find more hands. After you’ve made $1,200 worth of bets, you decide it’s time for a break. If you’ve lost $21, the house win percentage is that $21 divided by the $100 buy-in, or 21 percent.

You’ve made $1,200 worth of wagers on both games, lost $100 on slots and only $21 on the table, but the casino win percentage two and a half times as high on the table as on the slots.

It’s an anomaly, a result of calling different statistics by the same name. The numbers are useful in casino management, but not worth a second glance for players trying to decide what to play.

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