is worth more to a casino, the slot player who plays three one-dollar coins in
the machine or the basic strategy blackjack player who plays $25 a hand? I?m
sure most people who aren?t suspicious of such questions, would tend to
think that the blackjack player who plays $25 a hand is the more valuable because,
after all, $25 is a lot of money. It?s enough to go to the movies, have
dinner at a diner, and maybe even buy something of interest for your significant
other. What?s $3? Even babysitters earn more than $3 to take care of screaming,
Well, here?s something that might surprise you ? the slot player is
more valuable by far! Let?s take a look at why.
A blackjack player playing perfect basic strategy in most multiple-deck games
(and most blackjack games are multiple deck now) will face about 60-80 decisions
an hour at a crowded or semi-crowded table. That means our blackjack player will
wager approximately $1500 to $2000 per hour. Now, if our blackjack player knows
basic strategy down cold (basic strategy is the computer derived correct decision
for every player hand vs. every dealer upcard), he will likely face a house edge
of about one-half percent (0.005). Just as an aside, the overwhelming majority
of blackjack players do not know basic strategy down cold and are giving the casino
perhaps a 1 to 2 percent house edge!
Facing such a house edge, he can then be expected to lose approximately $7.50
to $10 per hour. Since comps of any magnitude usually require that a player spend
about four hours at the games, to get ?full comp? means our blackjack
player?s expectation is to lose $30 to $40 per day.
That sounds like a lot of money until you compare it to the staggering amount
a one-dollar slot player will dump in the same period of time. Watch this:
If our slot player puts through $3 on every spin and does a moderate pace of 10-12
spins per minute (one every six or five seconds), he is putting through between
$30 and $36 per minute or $1800 to $2160 per hour. That would be similar to a
$25 blackjack player?s betting handle. Unfortunately for the slot player,
and fortunately for the casino, the house edge on most $1 slot machines is not
one-half percent but more like 5 percent and sometime more like 8 percent.
The one-dollar slot player who plays three coins can expect to lose in one hour
? hold your breath -- between $90 and $108! In four hours, he can expect
to lose ? close your eyes if you play the slots -- between $360 and $432.
The slot player can expect to lose therefore approximately ten times as much as
a basic strategy blackjack player.
But it gets worse. If a slot player?s game of choice is something like Megabucks
or some other linked progressive, which keeps approximately 15 percent of all
the money played in the machine, the slot player can expect to lose (this is sooo
cruel) a whopping, bankroll-chopping, staggering, (okay, okay, I?ll tell
you) $1296 a day if he plays three coins!
Now, let?s have some fun shall we? After all, if your game of choice is
one-dollar slots you must be reeling from reading this. If the above statistics
reflect a given slot player (perhaps you), then realize that even a $100 blackjack
player, that?s right Mr. High Roller himself, is less valuable to the casino
than are you. Our slot player is more valuable than a $150 baccarat player; more
valuable than a $200 craps player.
But here is the irony in all this. In fact, it?s a two-fold irony. First,
most people play the slots because they think that betting $3 means they are betting
less and therefore stand to lose less than betting $25 or $100 at a table game
such as blackjack. On one decision, their idea is true, they are betting less.
But in one minute or one hour, their bets will accumulate and the house edge will
hack away at those bets, so that their losses are compounded and turn out to be
greater than the blackjack player?s losses.
Second, slot players think that somehow or other table-game players are the lions
of the casinos. This used to be true, but it isn?t anymore. (I have the
full story about this in my book, Break the One-Armed Bandits: How to Come Out
Ahead When You Play the Slots!) Table game players are mere pussycats in the casino
jungle; the slot players are the kings and queens of that landscape. If casinos
had their druthers all players would play the machines, preferably for full coin,
high-denominations like $5 and $25, and for long hours. Of course, this might
end up with everyone who goes to the casinos not having enough money to ever go
to casinos again.
Now, am I recommending that slot lovers stop playing the slots and switch to games
that they don?t enjoy just to keep the house edge at bay? No, I am not.
There are pitfalls in only looking at the math of the games as I have done above.
After all, the blackjack player playing $100 a hand could lose 10 hands in a row
and be down $1000 in short order, maybe ten minutes. The slot player would rarely
face such a monetary losing streak since he couldn?t put that much money
through the machine in such a short period of time. This aspect of gambling is
called volatility. The more you bet, the more money, in absolute terms, you can
lose on a bad streak.
And what of the good streaks? Well, generally a $100 blackjack player would tend
to win more with each good streak but ? the slot player has the possibility
for incredible, mind-blowing wins on a single spin. That?s the primary allure
of the slots after all ? some can even change your life.
Next issue, I will explain ways to play the slot machines, any slot machines,
to reduce the house?s horrible hungriness for your money and give you the
same amount of fun to boot!
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