I believe that knowledge is a valuable asset if you want to excel at most things. That includes all sports, bridge, chess, science, math and a long list of myriad topics, including gambling. The gaming industry, however, is unlike most others in that certain topics are off limits and will never see the light of day.
For example, the highest level of device technologists is called a bench tech (most manufacturers have around ten levels) and you will never ever see one on any casino floor or even on site. I spoke to a bench tech once due to unusual circumstances and he told me that they take their secrets to the grave. So, when a level one or two technician tells you which machine to play or how they work you should take it with a grain of salt. But there are many branches of gambling facts that are not just accurate but potentially profitable. The tough part is shining a light on legitimate facts so you can differentiate between the sunshine and the fairy tales.
Here are some tips to separate fact from fiction.
Clouds in the Casino: Regardless of what anyone tells you floor technicians, slot attendants and people who happened to live in Las Vegas at one time have no insider information on which machines you should play. The slots manager (that’s one individual) may know which chip was ordered for a slot device but will never reveal that data if they want to keep their job.
Expected Return on Slots (ER): Identical looking slots could have different chips on their logic boards, say one has an ER of 85% while the other has a 90% payback. That means if you’re a regular at the casino and observe the results over a long period of time you may make a good guess at selecting the best device, but will never be sure. You can be sure, however, that it’s a bad idea to play a slot that requires a max bet to win special jackpots and choose to play less than max. Either play max or find a machine that allows progressive jackpots at any wager.
Special Events List: You may think that everybody invited to special events, like parties, dinners or VIP drawings have the highest-level card available, but that’s not the case. There are too many variables to ever be sure but being on good terms with your host is definitely one of them, along with your average DROP (daily rate of play). It’s best to stick with a few casinos and to play longer sessions on fewer days. Still, you’re never going to be sure so if you believe you are under-comped either change your host or your main casino.
Future Results: It’s important to understand that past results can never be used to predict future outcomes either on VP or slots. Before the new game begins the ER for a device is unchanged.
Sunshine for Sure: Most aspects of casino play are clear to anybody who takes the time to ask questions or research the topic.
Cash Formula: The slot club staff will give you information that allows you to determine your cashback, bounceback cash (money, usually in free play, that requires you to return to the casino) and their formula for comps. My book, The Video Poker Edge, gives you an easy way to compute the ER on the casino’s cashback
Card Level Requirements: Of course, you’ll get the best perks if you have the highest-level card available. Although the casino rarely advertises the requirements, they will tell you if you ask.
Game Strategy: I suggest that you use tutorial software to learn and improve your VP game strategy before trying it in a casino. The theoretical ER requires computer-perfect play.
Promotional Equity: Use a kiosk available at most casinos to determine how many tickets you have for a promotional event. Slot club staff will tell you how much play is required for each entry if you ask.
Final Thoughts: The good news is that most things regarding VP, including the theoretical return for the game you’re playing, your contest equity, the correct video poker holds and the requirements to make the next higher card level are readily available if you ask questions. It’s important, however, to disregard inaccurate ideas and superstitions that can cost you money. For example, selecting a slot based on past win/losses rather than whether or not you are eligible for a jackpot without a max bet or not using your slot card because somebody told you it causes you to lose, make no sense. The house already has an advantage in most games, including VP, so it’s foolish to give them a bigger one by having your head in the clouds.
Author Bio: Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, writes for Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations, Arizona Player and other media outlets. You can also see her videos on YouTube or her radio interviews are on iTunes. Boyd’s book, “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules and her free strategy cards for the most popular games. The latest edition is available from amazon.com, Square One Publishers and book stores. Kindle edition now available.