July 2008
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Day 9: A few good paytables

I am delighted to report that I have found the one and only playable 25c video poker game at one of Harrah’s casinos in Las Vegas.

It’s a 5-line Bonus Poker game with a theoretical 99.2% return, and this variation can be found on precisely one video poker machine at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

I’d read about the existence of this game on a video poker site but had failed to find it in the past, despite a quite specific description of where it is located – which was not actually as helpful as it first sounded.

"Left machine on bank north of main cage underneath escalator up to Showroom".

Well, underneath that escalator is pretty much the entire video poker section, and there are at least a dozen different possibilities for "left machine on bank".

We’d failed to find this at Easter and I had another go last month but with no success. Claire convinced me we should give it one more try and with the two of us splitting up to test virtually every paytable on every machine on the floor, finally we struck gold.

The game is on a multi-game, multi-denomination machine, which has 36 different permutations of games in total. You can play Bonus Poker (as well as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and Double Bonus) with 3, 5 or 10 lines and for 25c, 50c or $1 per hand.

However, it’s is only when you select precisely 25c per hand and five lines that you get the 8/5 paytable. Play more lines, or fewer lines, or a different coin value at Bonus Poker and it instantly gets downgraded to a 7/5 game (98.0% payback). The other games are all pretty bad.

99.2% isn’t an awesome payback, however the reason it’s a big deal is that there is one specific paytable on one specific machine across the entire video poker inventory of Harrah’s nine Las Vegas casinos that has an expected return of greater than 99% for a reasonable stake.

The only other machines in the same league have a $5 minimum denomination, which is a $25 minimum bet per hand, versus the $6.25 on this multi-line machine.

The Total Rewards program gives 0.1% back in comp dollars automatically as base reward credits, and from what I’ve seen so far, this machine also looks to be awarding a further 0.25% as bonus reward credits.

So it’s still not a positive expectation with the comp rewards (99.55%) but the idea of playing video poker on the Strip at all is to try to keep those room offers coming back, so we can stay at the Rio or Flamingo again next year.

I’m at the point of no return now with retaining my Diamond status. It took 3,000 reward credits to get Diamond-in-a-day but you can only ever do it that way once. I need 11,000 in total by the end of the year to extend it until March 2010.

Currently I have nearly 8,000 credits, so if it was worth earning 3,000 to get there in the first place, it’s worth doing that same amount again now.

I’ll still play the majority in Laughlin on 99.5% Jacks or Better, with about 0.3% back in comp. That’s a total 0.2% house edge, which is more than twice as good as the the 0.45% on this one and only playable machine in Las Vegas.

In perspective: a 0.2% edge will cost a theoretical $220 for Diamond status, whereas 0.45% will cost $495 (based on $110,000 in total action).

Compare this to the average Joe, who would have to lose thousands playing a game with a 2% edge (and often much worse, on slots or without playing a perfect video poker strategy) to get there. I’ll still get treated like a degenerate VIP just the same.

It’s a fine balance, because as I’ve found when you don’t give them any Las Vegas action you don’t get any Las Vegas room offers.  But it still doesn’t take many free hotel nights to get your money back, and all the queue-jumping goodness that the Diamond card provides is just an added perk.

Anyway, so far this machine has been pretty good to us. Here’s the first royal flush of the trip, which Claire hit from three held and also picked up a straight flush at the same time.

I haven’t got the royal just yet but I did hold a straight flush draw and make it three times.

I can’t be bothered to work out the actual probability (hitting three 22-1 shots in five attempts) but it should almost never happen!

4 comments to Day 9: A few good paytables

  • James

    about time my need for blig has been satisfied

  • Technically, I guess this is a Strip view, there’s just a great big hotel tower right in the way of most of the Strip.In reality, I’m lucky to have got a free room from Caesars Palace at all, so I can’t complain.The room was on the 8th floor of the Roma

  • I do try my best to make sure it doesn’t happen too often any more, but now and again I still have to pay for a Las Vegas hotel room.For this Christmas I’d already scored 5 nights for free at the Rio and several months ago I booked the remaining 6 nights

  • I appear to have managed to bag a copy of my Harrah’s win/loss statement early.  On their web site, it says that statements for 2008 will not be available until 1st Feb.  Right now, that does seems to be the case, however last week it disregarded its own

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