I play NSU Deuces Wild
at the Palms. This is a 99.728% game before the slot club and promotions are included.
The slot club returns 0.25% in comps, which makes the game worth 99.98% if you giveBob Dancer is one of the world's foremost video poker experts. He is a regular columnist for Casino Player, Strictly Slots, and the Las Vegas Review-Journa land has written an autobiography and a novel about gambling. He provides advice for tens of thousands of casino enthusiasts looking to play video poker. Bob's website is www.bobdancer.com
full value to the comps --- which almost nobody does. Yes you can use them at nice restaurants, night clubs, full-priced jewelry store, the spa, and other things. As for me, I'd prefer an actual cashback rate of 0.15% to the comp-only rate of 0.25%, but that's not an option.
There are numerous features about playing at the Palms that make it worthwhile --- including various promotions, checks-in-the-mail worth $400 or more, and occasional gift card promotions. Without dissecting the entire slot club in detail, I'd like to talk about a type of promotion that mystifies me. I like it. I participate in it. But it mystifies me.
Periodically the Palms has multiple-point days --- 2x, 3x, 4x, or even 5x. This used to be limited to 40,000 extra points a day, but now it is unlimited. If you earn 100,000 points on a 5x point day (costing you $100,000 of coin-in), your account receives a bonus of 400,000 point --- worth a cool $1,000 worth of comps --- in addition to the base 100,000.
Even though I don't know what I'm going to be spending my points on, it's a no-brainer that playing on a multiple-point day is a better gamble than playing on a single-point day. So when my monthly calendar arrives in the mail, I check for these multiple-point days and plan my monthly play accordingly. Even when the monthly promotions appear to be "nothing special," I still play about $400,000 base points which earns me $400 in monthly free play. This comes out to a simple 0.1% bonus, and it also gets you invited to promotions like I'm going to describe next.
About once every three months, though, the Palms runs a promotion where you earn 0.25% free play for you play, rather than 0.25% comps. This is a very real bonus, because (to me anyway) the points are worth less than 0.15%. To make it more interesting, they also let you redeem the same amount of already-accumulated points for the free play. This isn't an open-to-everybody promotion. You have to have a significant monthly-average to be invited. Exactly how much, I don't know.
As an example, let's assume you earn 800,000 points during such an event (at an expect loss of $2,176 assuming you play NSU perfectly and do not tip). For this they will give you $2,000 in free play, plus (if you have at least 800,000 points already accumulated in your account), they'll let you redeem an extra 800,000 points for another $2,000 free play. (Usually there's more to the promotion than just this, but this is enough to concentrate on for now.)
If you assume your already-accumulated points are worthless, then this is a clearly a double-cash-back situation where you have a 0.228% advantage. (99.728% + 0.25% + 0.25% = 100.228%). This makes it a decent-sized promotion considering the stakes. They have NSU up to $25 single play or $5 Five Play, and for stakes that high, an advantage of 0.228% is pretty juicy. If you play lower stakes, finding promotions returning a higher percentage is no trick at all. But for higher stakes, it's not that common.
But what if you DON'T consider your accumulated points to be worthless? What if, say, you consider your accumulated points to be worth half face value, namely 0.125%? Now the promotion gives you an advantage of 0.103%. This is a pretty slim margin by any measure. Most players make enough mistakes and/or tip casino employees on jackpots enough so that even that slim advantage is slashed further.
For me, the main reason I play on 2x point days is so that I'll have enough points to later cash in on this type of promotion. But it's also tempting to think of the promotion itself as a type of double point event.
The problem with this type of thinking is that you are counting two separate days as offering double points, but in fact you only get the extra points once. You can count the double points when you earn them, or you can count them when you redeem them, but if you actually mentally count them twice you are fooling yourself.
It's a cleverly-structured set of promotions because it sounds better than it really is. I'm convinced it's a good play (partly because of extra goodies associated with these promotions that were not discussed in this article) but I don't know how to put a number on it (i.e. how much my expected win is) simply because I don't know when to count the double points.
If nothing else is going on in Las Vegas video poker, it's no problem that I can't completely evaluate this. After all, it's a good deal so I could just go and play. But if several other casinos are also running promotions, which is usually the case, not being able to evaluate this one accurately makes it a guess which promotion makes better use of my time, knowledge, and bankroll.
Making decisions concerning promotions based on incomplete information is nothing new. Players do it all of the time by necessity. (A common example is you never know for sure how many entries will be in a drawing.) Those who are better at making these decisions than others tend to have better results over time. Fortunately it's a learnable skill and experienced players get better at it over time.