A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. When do I know when to raise my bets on slot machines? I play all the lines starting at 1 cent per line, but when should I know to go to 2 cents or 3 cents a line. On a 40-line game, that means going from 40 cents to 80 cents or $1.20 for a spin.
A. That is strictly between you and your bankroll.
The odds of winning on a slot machine are the same on every spin. If you’ve been on a hot streak and feel like increasing your wager, understand there is no tendency for the hot streak to continue. The house has an edge on the games, even if short-term results have given you a profit.
If you’ve had a nice winning run and decide you want to take a chance at bigger wins with bigger bets, that’s your decision. I’d suggest you draw a hard line and not lose it all back, though. When you hit a losing streak, drop your wager back to your original comfort zone.
My slot play tends to be on the cautious side. I play mainly when my wife is with me, and we play for fun together. If I start with a $20 bill and bet 40 cents per spin, even wins that take my credit meter to $40 – double my buy-in – would not be enough to raise my bet.
My original $20 is worth 50 spins at 40 cents each. If I bet a $20 profit at 80 cents a spin, that’s only 25 spins. My profit could be gone in about two minutes.
I’d want to see the credit meter grow to at least $60 before I raised to 80-cent bets, and I’d be right back down to 40 cents when the credit meter hit $40.
But that’s me. I save my bigger bets for blackjack and video poker.
Set your own priorities, but do it with eyes open and understanding that losing streaks happen, with past results no guarantee of ongoing wins.
Q. I was intrigued by your mention of an Illinois casino that tried 2-1 payoffs on blackjacks, resulting in a player edge and a shutdown of the game.
Do you know of any other mistakes like that, where a casino tries different rules or payoffs and winds up getting burned?
A. Yes, there have been a number of such incidents, including a couple of famous ones in the 1990s, including the Illinois blackjack incident.
Another involved a sic bo game at the Grand Casino in Biloxi, Miss. Stanford Wong’s Current Blackjack News alerted readers to the opportunity at the time, and the story has since been retold in the American Casino Guide.
In 1994, the Grand offered payoffs of 80-1 on three-dice totals of 4 or 17. True odds are 71-1, and Atlantic City payoffs of 60-1 yield a house edge of 15.3 percent.
With an 80-1 payoff, that flips to a PLAYER edge of 12.5 percent.
That is an enormous edge for players. Blackjack card counters work hard for an edge of 1.5 percent or so, more or less depending on house rules on the game in addition to count accuracy. Video poker experts who can find the rare full-pay Deuces Wild are thrilled to get an edge of eight-tenths of a percent.
Wong calculated the average profit for a player making flat $100 bets at $1,500 per hour. Ten players who read Wong’s newsletter had one big winning day before the casino closed the game.
Such opportunities were always rare and short-lived, and I don’t think I’ve heard of any in the last decade or so.