John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I was looking at the New Jersey revenue report for May, and I noticed something that struck me as really odd.

At Borgata, it listed the casino win percentage as 15.1 percent on tables and 8.5 percent on slots. That means it paid players 84.9 percent on tables and 91.5 percent on slots right? The slots had higher payback percentages.

It was the same at every other casino except Ocean City, which kept 6.2 percent on tables and 9.5 percent on slots.

I’ve always thought the tables were the higher paying games and the slots were the bad bets, but this looks like it’s just the opposite.

A. Table games almost always pay more to players than slots do. But in statistics such as the win percentages reported by the New Jersey Gaming Commission, table games look like the money-makers because of a difference in the way the percentages are calculated.

On table games, the base figure is the drop, or the amount of buy-ins at the tables. The amount won by the casino is divided by the drop to yield a casino win percentage.

On slot machines, the base figure is total wagers, and the amount won by the casino is divided by total wagers to calculate the win percentage.

That may sound like a subtle difference, but it’s enormous.

Let’s say I buy in at a blackjack table for $100. I win enough hands that I make $1,000 worth of wagers before losing my $100 buy-in.

The casino win is $100, and its drop is also $100, so the casino win percentage is 100 percent.

Now let’s say I slide $100 into a slot machine bill validator. I have enough winning spins that I make $1,000 worth of wagers before losing my $100.

The casino win is $100, and divided by $1,000 in wagers, that yields a casino win percentage of 10 percent.

Note that I’ve risked the same amount of money on both games, I’ve wagered the same total on both games, and I’ve lost the same amount on both games. But the casino win percentage is 100 percent on the table game and only 10 percent on the slot machine.

Every casino has the ability to track buy-ins at the tables, but few have the technology to track every wager as they can do at the slots. So they use the information they have to calculate their win percentages.

Players who want to go comparison shopping need to know the difference and understand that win percentages on tables and slots are different statistics and not comparable.

Q. I’m new to sports betting. I think a lot of us are in that boat, with more states having it now. Would you tell me something? When I pay the 10 percent on a point spread bet or over/under, is that the house edge? A 10 percent edge seems awfully high to deal with.

A. The house edge is derived from the 10 percent vig it charges on those bets, but it’s not 10 percent. It’s 4.55 percent.

I’ve walked through this before, but for those taking advantage of new opportunities to bet on sports, here’s how it works.

Let’s say you bet $10 plus $1 vig on the over and I bet $10 plus $1 vig on the under. The over wins, so I lose my money. You get back your $11 plus $10 in winnings.

The house keeps $1 of the $22 we risked between us. Divide $1 by $22, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and you get 4.55 percent.