Discount Gambling

(Was) Best Promotion Ever @ Viejas!

Posted in +EV by stephenhow on July 29, 2010

I just enjoyed a month of free money from my local Viejas Casino, where they offered a “Hot Hand Bonus” on table games during selected times in July. They intended to give away these prizes (up to 720 envelopes from $20 to $100) fairly to players at their table games. However, they overlooked an angle that allowed me (and my friends) to collect the majority of them. While they didn’t give away all the prizes, and I didn’t take advantage of every opportunity, I still collected approx. $7000 of prize money (plus $2500 from a Royal Flush!). I can get used to this kind of winning, but this type of vulnerable “promotion” doesn’t come along very often.

They tried to fairly balance the prizes between the different table games by making the cost per prize (in house edge) the same. So they gave a prize (an envelope containing from $20 to $100) for the following Hot Hands:

  • 7-7-7 or 6-7-8 in Blackjack, min $10 bet
  • straight or better in Three Card Poker, min $10 Ante
  • trips or better in Four Card Poker, min $10 Ante
  • win with As in Casino War, min $10 bet
  • $5 Ace-Deuce or `Yo in craps
  • etc.

The average house edge per Hot Hand varies between $8.50 – $12.50 per hand, so with a minimum prize of $20, they’re all +EV. However, when you take into account the speed of the game, and the fact that there are only 45 prizes/shift for the morning and swing shifts, it becomes obvious to play craps for the prizes. At Viejas, the craps table is often empty, and one morning during the promotion, I had the table to myself. I simply played $5 Ace-Deuce and $5 `Yo each roll, as fast as possible. It didn’t take much more than an hour for me to win all 45 prizes, and net a $1650 profit, after $275 in dealer tokes. The poor floor supervisor had to write my name, player card number, table, hand, and drawn prize in a log book each time I hit a Hot Hand (Ace-Deuce or `Yo). Luckily, they could just use the quote symbol all down the page.

I was really shocked that they didn’t change the rules of the promotion after that incident. After all, they did change the rules mid-promotion after my friend and I cleaned out all the Hot Hand bonuses on the craps game when the requirement was any $10 hard way bet. (We bet each hardway $10, every roll.) The following week they changed the rules to a $5 Ace-Deuce and `Yo. Of course, this just made things easier, because it kept the average cost per prize the same ($10/prize), but greatly reduced the variance ($10 risk per roll, compared to $40 risk per roll)! Anyway, they didn’t change the rules a second time, probably because they realised the promotion was about to end, and they’d fix it the next time. So yesterday was the last day of the promotion, and I won $900 and $800 from the craps Hot Hands during the morning and swing shifts, respectively. I didn’t get all the prizes, because someone would occasionally bet with me and win a prize, or prizes went to other tables.

This was the best promotion ever. It’ll never happen again, at least not at Viejas. Since the average prize was somewhere around $40, that’s like a $5 Ace-Deuce or `Yo bet paying (15+8)-to-1. Normally, this bet pays 15-to-1, where 17-to-1 are true odds. It’s pretty easy to see how the Ace-Deuce and `Yo paying 23-to-1 is heavily in your favor. Still, I was the only one doing it, because the variance is high enough to scare people off. All they see is me betting $10 per hand, and only occasionally hitting. They just see me throwing $10 at the dealer every roll to put my bet back up, which is lightning fast in a heads-up CSM card craps game. If you don’t have a deep enough bankroll, you can go bust quickly. (It unfortunately did happen to a player who reads this blog, when no Ace-Deuce or `Yo came out for almost 20 rolls.)

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