Using Math to Choose a VP Play – Part 3

In this series I have been giving examples showing how to figure the basic math calculations and then how to add some easy-to-figure extras, like multiple-point bonuses, to increase the value of a play. There are other valuable extras but many of them are more complicated to figure out.   (Notice I round down my figures, a “safer” more conservative action for the great majority of players.)

Let’s talk about bounce-back (BB) benefits. This is an extremely complicated benefit that I covered in detail back in my September 13 blog titled “Not So Simple.” I suggest you go back and read that if you want to review the many problems you will encounter in trying to maximize this benefit.

However, IF you know or at least can fairly accurately estimate, perhaps based on past experience with a particular casino, how much BB you will get for playing a certain amount, then here is how you can figure how much this benefit will add to your total play. Take the BB amount and divide it by the coin-in (CI) amount you have to play in order to get that. And if your grade school arithmetic is rusty, here is my simple rule for people who are scared of math: divide the little number by the big number!

Example: you find a miracle situation where you have to play only $10,000 a week in order to get $50 BB each week. Okay, divide the $50 bounce-back amount (the little number) by the $10,000 coin-in amount (the big number). It’s okay to use your calculator! You will get .005. You do have to remember how to change a decimal into a % – I’ll help you out here: Move the decimal point two places to the right – and you now have .5% which you can add to your other figures, like this:

99.5% – JoB 9/6 – the game you want to play

.1% – the basic players club point value where you want to play

.5% – the value of the BB

100.1% – the positive total of the whole play

To give a more realistic example, you are more likely to get $25 a week for this same coin-in and the best game might be 8/5 Bonus:

99.1% – 8/5 Bonus

.1% – Club points

.2% – BB

99.4% – Total value of play

This formula can be used for any benefit IF you know exactly the value of the benefit and how much play it takes to get it. Let’s take comps, for example. You can substitute comp value for the BB amount in the above examples. However, how comps are valued depends on personal factors. A $50 food coupon for a steak house may be worth only $25 to those who prefer to eat at less expensive restaurants.

In fact most other benefits are not one-size-fits-all when you are trying to figure out the mathematical value. They depend so much on personal factors like bankroll considerations, individual goals, and time scheduling. And often you don’t have enough exact details of a possible benefit, like the number of people you are up against in a tournament or how many entries are in a drawing. Then it becomes guesstimation instead of exact math.

This is the end of this series, since my goal was to cover only the basics. However, I have written at length about how to maximize your use of extra benefits in my books, especially in More Frugal Gambling and Frugal Video Poker. Although both of these books, and also Frugal 1, were written some years ago and obviously contain some outdated material, they still have enough valuable information that if someone hasn’t read them, they might be a worthwhile purchase, especially since they can be ordered at shopLVA  at a very frugal discounted price.

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Using Math to Choose a VP Play – Part 2

Last week I gave examples of the basics – game EV + players club base points. However, that is rarely the end of the calculations for a wise player. Our financial success over the last 30+ years is largely due to the “extras” we add to that base.

Let’s talk about one of my favorite extras: multiple -point promotions. This is probably the easiest way to cut your losses and even gain an edge over the casino – and it is one of the most frequent promotions in Las Vegas and in other areas where there are multiple casinos competing for your business. Continue reading

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Using Math to Choose a VP Play – Part 1

I promised to give you examples and now I am going to do that. However, first I must emphasize that I am not saying math is the only factor you might want to consider when deciding when or where to play VP. Math is the main factor I consider, but you may have different goals that I do. You may put more emphasis on entertainment value, convenient locations, suitable scheduling – various other personal factors. I’m not here to judge your choices.

However, for everyone, knowing the math is the best place to START in looking for a new play or re-evaluating an old play that might have changed. Once you know the mathematical expected value (the EV) of a play or a group of possible plays, you will know how much money it will cost you to deviate from the mathematical “best” play.  Then you can make a knowledgeable decision if your reason for deviating is worth that much to you.

Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say you have the choice to play at two casinos: Casino A is two miles from your house and Casino B is 8 miles from your house. Let’s say the best game at Casino A is 8/5 Bonus (EV 99.1%); the best one at Casino B is NSUD (EV 99.7%). Continue reading

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First an explanation about the Gold Coast promotion I mentioned in the last blog entry:  Tuesday 6x points is only for those players that receive monthly mailers.  This is a case in point that I have discussed many times.  Boyd properties – and sometimes other multi-casino companies – do not always run the same promotions company-wide.  You need to check your individual mailer and/or casino-specific websites.


Discount show tickets

Good article about earning table game comps.



Earn 2017 tier points in 2016!

Get a jump start on maintaining your Tier Status for another year. For every 500 Tier Credits you earn between October 1 and December 31, we will give you a 100 Tier Credit bonus for 2017. Make sure to opt-in and that we have your email address to be eligible for this bonus.  Continue reading

Posted in Casino Promotions, Gambling Resources, Slot Clubs | 1 Comment


Actually today’s entry is really just a short detour from the subject I have been concentrating on for several weeks and plan to continue – that is, how to figure the value of players club points.  Before you can figure the worth of a promotion, you need to know the base numbers on which you add the promotion numbers.

In my last entry, I talked about using vpFREE2 to find the EV and location of a game and also the players club point percentage.  I also warned that casinos change so much that this is only the beginning for your research, that you always have to double-check info with eyes-on scouting. Some players did that and found that the Spin Poker I mentioned at Silver Sevens, with the 10/7 Double Bonus, was gone.  They also found out that machines that contained 8/5 Bonus Poker didn’t qualify for point multipliers.  Fortunately they reported this and vpFREE2 updated the database. I strongly encourage this reporting; the more players who submit new information, the more helpful that resource will be. 


BOYD PROPERTIES (The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, and Sam’s Town, and sometimes their downtown properties.)

I constantly drum on the warning to always read the fine print – and this is always especially important when you are checking on Boyd properties since they often vary promotions from one casino to another.  Continue reading

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Okay, it’s time I got around to giving the examples I promised earlier in the month, providing  some help in figuring out the EV (expected theoretical value)  of video poker plays. If you are an old hand at these math calculations, you won’t be interested in this. However, if you are a new player who wants/needs some techniques to help you lose less, these examples might be just what the VP doctor ordered. There is another group who might also welcome this information: long-time experienced players who had gotten used to finding good plays back in the golden era of VP before the recession. So many positive opportunities were available that they didn’t worry so much about EV. They could choose the one that was closest to where they lived, or was on their favorite game, or gave the extra players club benefits they liked – and be assured they were playing with an edge over the casino.

As I often say – that was then and this is now. Choosing good VP plays is much harder work now; and, especially if you are in an area with a choice of casinos, figuring and comparing EVs  is a must-have skill if you want to lose less and possibly pull out a long-term win. One important note: there are non-math factors that might be considered when you are choosing a VP play. But a wise player might want to first look at the math and then decide on the importance of personal-choice factors.

Here is the “formula”: Continue reading

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Explanation Needed?

It has come to my attention that a few people are confused about my August 18 blog entry, “Blast from the Past,”  although, according to my mail, most readers “got it,” enjoying it when I sometimes write about “the way it used to be.”   We all like nostalgia once in a while, and most of the time the point is clear that although gambling and casino things often change, many basics remain the same.  But I am always quick to admit when something is wrong in my writings or to explain something that is incomplete or needs more explanation.

Most of my readers who follow my writings already know that we started out as quarter players and that we slowly worked our way up to much higher play levels, and I have written in detail about this exciting ride up to more luxurious benefits.  But I should have been clearer when I re-published this 20+-year-old article, which was definitely written by a very inexperienced quarter player!

I should have left out or explained more fully this one short sentence from that entry:   I’d never run an unfair promotion, like a slot-point marathon where quarter players are competing with $5 players.   Actually my intent would have been more obvious if I had started this paragraph with my second sentence: People like a promotion where everyone has at least a chance to win. Then I could have given a present-day example like a recent pull-tab promotion at Silverton in which the prizes went up in value, depending on the level of your play, but smaller play would win you something.  Obviously, higher-level players can score more benefits in most promotions, but it is nice when casinos think about the lower-level players, who are the bulk of the gamblers in many casinos.   One promotion comes to mind here, the royal bonus promotion going on at the Gold Coast this month.  Quarter players can earn the top bonus of $100; higher-denomination players get that same $100 bonus, not a higher amount.  Thus this is a “better” promotion, looking at EV, for lower-level players.  And many casinos, especially those catering to locals, often run better bonus-point promotions for penny machines, which target the smaller players.  They often also cap multi-point promotions that discourage more high-level play.

Funny, other than this one sentence I discuss above, I think the rest of that article is as timely today as it was so long ago.  My main purpose was not to analyze particular promotions and decide what level of players would benefit from them, but most of the ideas on my “wish list” had to do with customer service.  And most of those issues affect all levels of players.  Everyone likes to be able to get their questions about players club benefits answered by a knowledgeable employee at the club booth.  No one likes to receive notice of a promotion after the date it expired or find that club rules have changed and they are going to lose benefits they have already earned because they weren’t notified in a timely fashion.  Everyone likes to be treated like a valued customer, by the valet parker, the housekeeper, and even by the porters who clean up.  I have seen buttons worn by every employee in a casino, reminding customers of a casino-wide promotion that makes them all VIPs.  I liked that!

It seems most thoughtful readers, whatever the level of their play, appreciated the total message rather than fixating on one out-of-date sentence.

My next blog entry, which I promised earlier, will be back on my usual track of practical information, giving examples of how to boost the EV of your VP play.

Posted in Casino Policy, Gripes, Slot Clubs | 8 Comments

Not So Simple After All

When I was writing my last blog, I was really tired; many of you noticed that, didn’t you? Brad had been having some serious medical problems – and that always wears me out trying to “fix” things, seemingly practicing medicine without a license!   🙂  But things are better now. Brad is feeling better. And now I can breathe!

Reading back over that blog entry, I realized I was guilty of trying to simplify a very complex situation, something you can never do when talking about casino programs. So now I am going to start over on the subject of figuring the EV of a video poker play.

Yes, this is a good starting point:

  1. Learn the EV of the game you want to play.
  2. Find the players club point value
  3. Add them together for the EV of the regular total play
  4. If there is a multiple-point bonus, add that to get the total play for “special days.”

However there are other factors you need to consider. Continue reading

Posted in Slot Clubs, Video Poker, VP Extras | 6 Comments


Walking through casino promotion areas is like trying to get across a war zone mine field. Even if you don’t find actual technical errors in newspaper advertisements or Internet information sources, the details may be too incomplete for you to have accurate information.

Published information on multiple-point benefits may not distinguish between slots and video poker bonuses. For example, saying that Silverton has 10X-16X points, depending on tier level, is a true statement, but not of help to video poker players, since this refers only to slot play.  Silverton almost never has casino-wide multiple points for VP play.

Rampart Casino has a big ad about their new slot card and says: And points are always worth 5x more. The question is “More than what?”  Worthless information that is purely hype!  Then they give this “formula”:  1000 points = $5 cash back.  This is a common example of incomplete information that is useless to players unless they have one other figure:  HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE MACHINE TO EARN A POINT?  Here are the other facts you must know:  It takes $1 to earn one point on slots.  It takes $2 to earn one point on video poker.  If you do the math – or like I did, just go to vpFREE2 and click on “Rampart” and then “Player’s Club” – you would find that this players club pays .25% for your points earned on VP (.5% on slots).

I’ve been meaning to write here about how to choose where the best play is, especially on holidays and other times when there are several multiple-point bonus options.  Misinformation out there for yesterday’s Labor Day promotions has sent me screaming to my keyboard.

Here is the way you choose if you want to stick with the best mathematical play.  If you just want to play at a casino near your house, or where you once hit a bit jackpot so you feel lucky there, or where you like the restaurants, or where the employees are friendliest, go ahead with your own non-mathematical plans – you don’t need my advice.  But if you want to maximize your chances for long-term better financial results, here is what I have learned over the last 31 years:

  1. Learn the EV of the game you want to play.
  2. Find the players club point value
  3. Add them together for the EV of the regular total play
  4. If there is a multiple-point bonus, add that to get the total play for “special days.”

It’s that simple. Do that for all the possible plays, compare them, and choose the one with the highest EV.

I’m exhausted now, explaining things I have talked about for 25 years. If I get my strength back, hopefully in my next blog I will give you some specific examples. But in the meantime, you can use vpFREE2 and start your own figuring.  This old lady will not be around to hold your hand forever!

Posted in Casino Promotions, Slot Clubs | 3 Comments


OOPS – Dead Bodies in TWO casinos

Last month I wrote:  “REAL BODIES” human anatomy exhibition just opened at Bally’s Las Vegas –located on the lower level.  I think this is the one that used to be at Luxor and perhaps other casinos before that?

Wrong!  I just found out that there are dueling “Dead Body” companies.  Who knew!  The old one at the Luxor is still there; the one at Bally’s is a new one.  Hummm…I saw one of these many years ago but I forget in which casino.  It was interesting but I’m not interested in checking these two out to see which one is best.  I’ll leave that to you readers who are into dead bodies!


When we visited Harrah’s Cherokee in May, we liked that we could get our picture put on the back of our players card.  It sometimes – but not always – saves you pulling out your ID for certain transactions in the casino. This hasn’t been available in the Las Vegas area for quite a while and recently was discontinued in Harrah’s Resort Southern California.  So we wondered where else this was offered. Continue reading

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