I play video poker at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. About a year ago they took many of their VP machines, about 15 to 20 percent at the bars and the casino floor, and stopped awarding points on them. However they increased the payback percentage on them. For example, Double/Double Bonus went from 8/5 to 9/5 and sometimes 9/6.
My question is: Am I better off playing the machines that award points, or should I play the machines with the higher payback amount?
Your letter makes me nostalgic for the time when I got started going to casinos, the mid 1990s. Mirage Resorts was still around and it still owned Treasure Island. TI had plenty of 9/6 Jacks machines, albeit at the dollar and up level. Slot clubs were new and you usually got the same credit for playing a dollar through a high-paying video poker machine as through a lower-paying slot machine. Back then, you could play $750 a day through a near-breakeven video poker machine and qualify for the casino rate at TI.
Today video poker players have to play more than their slot-playing compatriots to earn the same comps. But at least they usually have high-paying machines to play.
I'm not sure which Double Double Bonus paytables are at Mohegan Sun, but we can estimate that the long-term paybacks on the machines are as follows (rounding up): 9/6 is about 99%, 9/5 is 98% and 8/5 is 97%.
Which game should you play? The strictly mathematical answer is to play the game with rewards only if its long-term payback plus the percentage of your action you earn as cashback and comps is greater than the long-term payback you can get from a game that doesn't have rewards. You rarely get 1% of your action back in comps, let alone 2%, so your best bet the long run is the 9/6 machine.
One thing to consider is that your slot club returns are guaranteed and you'll earn them just for playing. The extra percentage points in long-term payback are subject to randomness and, in the short run, luck has a greater effect on your results than payback percentage. It might take hundreds of thousands of hands for your results to be better playing the 9/5 machine than the 8/5.
It bugs me to not play the highest-paying video poker available in a casino for which I know the strategy and it bugs me to not earn slot club points when I play with a house edge. I think it's a close call between the 8/5 and the 9/5 and I think I would ignore the bad taste it leaves in my mouth and play the 8/5 machine.
I have my own question. I can see not giving rewards for positive expectation video poker paytables, but the paytables you have available are far from positive. I presume Mohegan Sun still comps craps players, who are facing a house edge similar to that of the 9/6 paytable. And I presume it's still comping basic strategy blackjack players, who face a lower house edge.
Why stop rewarding some video poker players?
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