A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I was wondering if you could give me some advice at becoming a professional slots player.
I’m 26, working for a marketing company, and in a really good spot because of two big slots jackpots. They were both on penny progressive games, one for $25,000 and a little extra and the other for a little under $15,000.
I was thinking about taking a year and using that money to play professionally. I can live cheaply enough and could save my winnings and get a good start on life.
My email recently brought word from Tropicana Atlantic City that it was adding Three Card Dr…
Can you share your thoughts on where to play and what to play? I think progressives are the key, but should I move to a place with lots of casinos or get the jump on jackpots close to home because I could be there any day and any time?
A. I have one piece of advice for you: Don’t do this.
If you don’t need the money, put it in savings, speak to an investment counselor, make a nice donation to charity, buy yourself something cool — anything. But DO NOT attempt to become a professional slot player.
At any game, playing professionally is a pipe dream for most players. Even at blackjack, most players who attempt to count cards can’t really beat the house.
On slots, the house edge is much too high for sustained success. You’ve been fortunate enough to win two large jackpots in a short time, but the house edge on penny slots of 10 to 15 percent — depending on casino and jurisdiction — will grind you down over time.
Slots involve no skill. You can’t bring that house edge down. There is no way to tell when a machine will pay off or when a jackpot is coming. Many more sessions will bring losses than wins. Players go years or decades at a time without hitting jackpots as large as yours.
Slots are fun. The bonuses are engaging, and the occasional big wins are exciting. But they should be treated as entertainment and the money you play with should come from an entertainment budget.
But if you try to step up and play professionally with your $40,000 in jackpots as seed money, the most likely outcome is that you’ll come out of the experience $40,000 poorer.
Q. I was at a casino with sports betting for the beginning of football season, and they had the usual bets — point spreads, money lines, over/under. They also had parlay cards where you had to pick three or more teams, and the teams you picked had to beat the point spread.
I didn’t want to do anything crazy like try to parlay 10 teams, but I tried a three-team parlay — and lost all three games! The three-team paid winners 6-1 and four teams were 10-1. Are those fair odds?
A. Assuming you have a 50/50 chance of winning any game, you have a 1 in 2 chance on any game. If you need to pick two games correctly, the odd are 1 in 2x2; with three teams, it’s 1 in 2x2x2, for four teams 1 in 2x2x2x2, and so on.
With three teams, that gives us a 1 in 8 chance of winning, so true odds would be 7-1. With four teams, we have a 1 in 16 chance, and true odds are 15-1.
A three-team parlay with a 6-1 payoff gives the house a 12.5 percent edge. That’s too steep for me, but with a four-team parlay paying 10-1, that zooms to 31.25 percent. Ugh