Which One is Better? – Gambling With An Edge


I’m going to present a case about a Caesars property with conditions that may not exist anywhere. I’m trying to address how I would figure things out if this property did exist. I know many of my readers would prefer I do all the calculations for their particular casino and tell them, “Just do this.” I can’t do that. There are thousands of casinos out there with a different game mix at each one. And the game mix is different for quarters than it is for dollars than it is for higher denominations. And to top it off, I have readers who insist on playing Double Double Bonus even if there are numerous superior games EV-wise.

In this hypothetical Caesars property, assume you can play 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.54%) and earn one Reward Credit (RC) per $10 coin-in, or you can play NSU Deuces Wild and earn one RC per $20 coin-in. Which is the better play? Assume RCs are worth 0.1% if you redeem them for comps or 0.05% if you redeem them for free play.

I’m assuming the comp dollars are valuable to you. This is especially true if you live out of town and need to purchase room and food. But sometimes you get enough food and room deals in your mailers that you don’t really need to spend the RCs on comps, and it makes sense to redeem them at a 50% rate. You’ll have to adjust for this yourself.

Further, assume you earn one Tier Credit (TC) per RC. TCs aren’t redeemable, but they determine your tier level. Play enough TCs per day and you get bonus TCs.

Confusing enough? This is what Caesars players need to deal with.

If this were all there was, neither game would be playable as the return is less than 100%. You might not be a stickler for this, but the basic rule of gambling is that if you want to be a net winner, play games with enough extras to make the game worth more than 100%. Suffice it to say, there are enough promotions and mailers to at least interest me. I’ve earned Seven Stars status every year for twenty years. Many players have determined Caesars is not a good play for them.  This is another thing you’ll have to decide for yourself —  whether it’s even worth it for you to play at Caesars.

One factor that I’m not explicitly considering in this blog is the theoretical of each game. Offers (including mailers) are based on average daily theoretical. NSU “should” have a lower theoretical than JoB (because a 0.27% house edge for perfect play on NSU is lower than a 0.46% house edge on JoB), but it doesn’t always work that way. Casinos can set any theoretical they like.

To find out how the game choice affects your promotions and mailers, it’s nice to know others who play at this particular casino. Some of these players, presumably, will be playing NSU and some will with be playing JoB. I’m frequently reminded of Richard Munchkin’s oft-stated maxim when our the podcast was in effect. “Your success will be primarily determined by two things: How hard you study and how good your network is.” Although Munchkin is not a video poker player, his words ring true in this game as well.

Just assuming the EV of the game, NSU remains the clear choice— 99.73% + 0.05% is a bigger number than 99.54% + 0.1%. But if you consider “time to earn various tier levels,” playing NSU takes twice as long as it does playing JoB. How much time do you have to devote to Caesars properties?

If this casino offered periodic 10x RC multiplier days, now JoB is the better play. If the casino offered 5x TC multiplier days, NSU is better EV-wise. Still, if time were running out by when you need to reach, say, Diamond level or maybe Seven Stars level, it might be worth it to play a game with a slightly lesser EV in order to make sure you reach the benefits of the next tier level. The benefits of reaching these tiers aren’t as big as they were several years ago, but they aren’t trivial.  

Finally, I never got into a personal preference as to whether you prefer NSU or JoB. I never base my decisions on that. I’m seeking the higher EV. Players who base their decisions on such factors remind me of the silly people who argue, “I always have desserts because I have a sweet tooth.” I’m always the one who argues, “Sugar is bad for you. Avoid. Sugar substitutes are worse!”


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