The Government Wants You To Gamble

Legalized gambling has exploded over the past few years and there’s more on the way.  Various members of the government have discussed why they’re approving more gambling in their states with Bloomberg.  The simple reason is that there is less tax revenue coming into the states and gambling is a way to help.

Three U.S. states are pushing plans for video poker and slot machines as their legislators hope gambling income will compensate for declines in taxes.

Ohio lawmakers passed a budget last week that includes $933 million in projected revenue from 17,500 slot machines to be installed by May at horse-racing tracks statewide. Illinois legalized video poker in taverns to raise $300 million annually to support $31 billion in infrastructure improvements.

Pennsylvania would get a projected $550 million a year by legalizing video poker in bars, according to a bill awaiting consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.

I love to gamble, but for me part of the allure was that it wasn’t something I could just do anywhere.  I’m sure I’m different than most people that gamble and I don’t see myself changing, but at some point enough is enough.

This opens up quite a few questions.  What will payouts be for these casinos?  When will marijuana become legal?  When will prostitution become legal?  Where will it end?

Budgets never seem to get smaller and there will always be a need for revenue.  I’m not the moral compass for anyone but myself, but these are questions that can be asked.  I’ll just stick to gambling because that’s more fun for me.

Slot Machine Payouts – July 13

The latest slot machine payouts from Gambling Teachers was released on July 13th.  I missed June payouts, but it seems as if payouts are slightly less than the May reports.  These payouts include all machines: video poker, keno and slots.

I only post the areas where I visit, but you can find the full report on gamblingteachers.com.  The following are total machine payout %’s for all denominations.

Atlantic  City Payout %
Borgata         91.7
Trump Taj Mahal     91.4 *
Resorts         91.4 *
Harrah’s        91.3 *

Connecticut
Mohegan Sun        91.5 *
Foxwoods         91.4 *

Nevada
Reno             95.1
North Las Vegas     94.0 *
Downtown Las Vegas     93.4 *
Las Vegas Strip     92.8 *
Lake Tahoe         92.3 *

* — Denotes change in casino rankings or areas since last reporting.

If you are curious to see where the best video poker pay tables are you can check vpFREE, which is my main video poker reference.

Atlantic  City     Payout %
Borgata         91.7
Trump Taj Mahal     91.4 *
Resorts         91.4 *
Harrah’s        91.3 *

Connecticut
Mohegan Sun        91.5 *
Foxwoods         91.4 *

Nevada
Reno             95.1
North Las Vegas     94.0 *
Downtown Las Vegas     93.4 *
Las Vegas Strip     92.8 *
Lake Tahoe         92.3 *

* — Denotes change in casino rankings or areas since last reporting.

Video Poker: Random Until You Press Draw

I’m prepping for another trip to Atlantic City and noticed that the vpFREE2 databases haven’t been updated since my last trip so all pay tables remain the same.  I was hunting on the message boards for any updates and found nothing.  I did find a question that I’ve seen and been asked more than a few times and thought I’d answer for the first time on ECG.

Does the video poker machine continue shuffling after you hold your cards and before you hit draw?

The answer to this question is yes, after you hold your cards the remaining cards continue shuffling and your result continues to be truly random.  So it does matter when you hit the draw button.  So the hand you’re dealt changes every nano second you wait.

I’m a slightly superstitious type so if I’m dealt 4 cards to a royal flush I’ll kiss my fingers, ask a friend to hit draw, move a certain way, look a certain direction or wait and usually not get the card I want.  What do you do?

World Series Of Poker (WSOP) Turns People Away!

World Series Of Poker Logo
World Series Of Poker

For the first time ever the World Series of Poker (WSOP) sold out.  Yesterday’s “Event 4” was sold out and forced Harrah’s to turn away people who traveled from all over the world to compete in the event.  ESPN covers both the poker and the upset non-contestants.

Obviously Harrah’s expected to see a decrease in attendance this year with the hurting economy but there have been more people visiting for the WSOP.  I’m sure “A chip and a chair”, “A dollar and a dream”, and other clichés are on people’s minds right now.  This is tough for anyone that spent the time and money to make the trip out there.  If there were a lot of people turned away I’m sure that an extra day could have been added.  I would guess that there weren’t many effected.  The negative PR by a few won’t dissuade the masses.  Still – this is lame.

Betting On The NBA Draft

I was checking for some interesting sports bets this weekend and saw that Sportsbook.com had lines for the NBA Draft this week.  I’m a sucker for the NBA and NFL drafts and the prop bets are pretty interesting.

Below are the lines from sportsbook.com.

2009 NBA Draft – Blake Griffin – He will play his first NBA Regular Season Game for
Clippers -8000
Any Other Team +4000

2009 NBA Draft – Ricky Rubio – He will play his first NBA Regular Season Game for
Grizzlies +200
Any Other Team -300

2009 NBA Draft – Total ACC Players drafted in the 1st Round
ACC Players Over 5.5 (-135)
Under 5.5 (-105)

2009 NBA Draft – Total BIG East Players drafted in the 1st Round
BIG East Players Over 6.5 (-300)
Under 6.5 (+200)

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) -300
James Harden (Arizona State) +200

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Stephen Curry (Davidson) -170
Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) +130

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) -300
Chase Budinger (Arizona) +200

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) -140
DaJuan Summers (Georgetown) even

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) -200
Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) +150

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Brandon Jennings -110
Jrue Holiday (UCLA) -130

DaJuan Summers (Georgetown) – When Will He be Drafted (1st or 2nd Round)
1st Round -300
2nd Round +200

Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) – When Will He be Drafted (1st or 2nd Round)
1st Round -180
2nd Round +140

Darren Collison (UCLA) – When Will He be Drafted (1st or 2nd Round)
1st Round even
2nd Round -140

DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh) – Will He be a Lottery Pick (Picked 1st to 14th)
Yes (Picked 1st to 14th) -160
No (Picked 15th or Later) +120

Gerald Henderson (Duke) – Will He be a Lottery Pick (Picked 1st to 14th)
Yes (Picked 1st to 14th) -150
No (Picked 15th or Later) +110

Ty Lawson (North Carolina) – Will He be a Lottery Pick (Picked 1st to 14th)
Yes (Picked 1st to 14th) +120
No (Picked 15th or Later) -160

Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) – Will He be a Lottery Pick (Picked 1st to 14th)
Yes (Picked 1st to 14th) -600
No (Picked 15th or Later) +350

DeMar DeRozan (USC) – Over/Under Draft Position
Draft Position Over 11.5 (+110)
Draft Position Under 11.5 (-150)

Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) – Over/Under Draft Position
Draft Position Over 20.5 (-105)
Draft Position Under 20.5 (-135)

I find a few of these bets to be compelling, with a nice potential upside, but I don’t think I’ll be betting on the NBA Draft.  Here is the bet I find most interesting.

2009 NBA Draft – Player to get Drafted First
Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) -300
Chase Budinger (Arizona) +200

I’ve been reading a lot about Budinger as the draft closes in and very little about Hansbrough.  In the battle of future bench players I think Chase Budinger will be drafted first and will show a nice profit.

Online Sports Betting at Sportsbook

Gambling Map of America

I was browsing my RSS feed tonight while watching the Yankees game and came across a link on The Die is Cast for this interactive map of gambling in America.

The map shows what forms of gambling are legal in which states.  Pretty cool info if you’re a curious person like me.  The chart is part of an article discussing why the NFL doesn’t want your bets.  As I’ve said before I’m sure this is all a dog and pony show by the NFL because they have to say gambling is bad for their game publicly because they don’t want participants in the league gambling on the games.  The more articles like this I see the more I see this being a big PR campaign.

Slot Machines & Video Poker: Slant Top vs. Upright

I’ve noticed a lot of incoming searches that are inquiries about slant top and about upright video poker machines so I decided to share my thoughts on each type of game.

igt_quickquadspoker_g17upright

Upright Machines

I see more upright machines at casinos than slant top models.  The machines are placed on cabinets to place the games at eye level.  It’s nice to sit upright and have everything right in sight.  These machines promote good posture because of the line of sight.  Because there is this direct sight line there isn’t a real desire or need to slouch.

Some will put their feet up and lean back while they play poker.  When I was a kid my mother made me nervous about falling down if I lean back, so I don’t do that.

I don’t mind these games, but if I’m drinking something I’ll typically have to stop playing to pick the drink up or put it down.  It’s a small thing, but I don’t like the pause while I’m playing.

igt_gamekingpoker_g22_slant

Slant Top Machines

There aren’t as many slant top machines in casinos nowadays.  It seems to me that many of the slant tops are older games – specifically slots.  I stay away from the slots because most of them are old, although there seems to be some newer games coming onto the market.

The seats are lower to the ground because the games are set lower to the ground.  There’s a tendancy to lean foward to the game because of the arm rests.  I find these games to be have more room than the uprights.

The real reason I like slant tops is because I have easy access to the buttons on the game as well as my drink.  There’s little pause when I play these machines.  Specifically, I enjoy playing video poker on these machines early in the morning over a cup of coffee.

The type of machine doesn’t really matter to me.  When playing video poker the pay tables matter more than anything else.  With everything being equal, I would choose a slant top game.  I enjoy being lower to the ground and I don’t mind the posture as long as it gets me access to my drinks quicker.

What do you prefer?

World Series of Poker Starts Today!

The 40th annual World Series of Poker begins today at the Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I don’t play casino poker because it bores me.  I play with friends and that’s all.  Here are some links for you to get more information.

There is a schedule of every World Series of Poker event here

ESPN television schedule for the World Series of Poker here.

I won’t likely read the news of the even but I’ll watch the TV coverage.  If something interests me, I’ll share it as usual.

3 Card Poker Strategy

After my trip to Las Vegas I realized that I played 3 card poker more than any other table game.  This isn’t normal for me as I usually mix games up, but it’s how the trip went.  I thought I would offer my strategy versus optimal stategy from Wizard of Odds.  I don’t consider my strategy optimal or perfect because I haven’t done the math to prove whether or not it is optimal.

3card_poker

How Top Play

The game is simple.  First the players bet on the Ante and/or Pair Plus areas.  Using a deck of 52 cards 3 cards are then dealt, face down, to each player.  After the cards are dealt the players may look at their cards.  If the player likes their cards and wants to play they put another bet in the Play circle.  After all of the players bet the dealer turns over their cards.

In order to win the dealer must “qualify” with at least a Queen.  If the dealer qualifies they can then win if they have a better hand than the player.  The player wins by having a better hand than the dealer.  The amount of the win depends on the winning players cards.

So if you play your hand you are betting 3 units.  If you fold your hand you lose 2 units.

Hand Ranking

3 Card Poker hands rank slightly different than regular poker.  Here’s the order from best hand down.

Mini Royal (flush)
Straight Flush
3 Of A Kind
Straight
Flush
Pair
High Card

Note:  Not all casinos pay out for Mini Royal Flushes .

Payouts

If you win there are multiple ways to be paid, which is what makes the game fun.  Pair Plus is the top circle and where the big money is paid, so let’s start there.

Pair Plus Payout
Pair:  Even money
Flush:  3-1
Straight:  6-1
3 of a kind:  30-1
Straight Flush:  40-1
Mini Royal:  50-1 (If available)
No Pair:  Losing bet

Ante and Play pay the same odds
Straight:  Even Monday
3 of a Kind:  4-1
Straight Flush:  5-1
All other hands:  Even money

I usually try to gamble with optimal strategy.  This is why I stick with Jacks or Better video poker.  It has the most simple strategy.  When it comes to 3 card poker optimal strategy goes out the door and I become passive aggressive.

Optimal Strategy

My number one reference, Wizard of Odds, says that you should play any hand equal to or better than Queen – Six – Four.  “In any poker based game hands are scored first according to the highest card, then the second, and then the third, and so on if there are more. So a queen/7/3 would beat queen/6/4. The queens tie so the second highest cards are used to break the tie, and a 7 beats a 6. The third card does not matter in this case because the hand was resolved by the second card.”

ECG Strategy

I have two different strategies depending on how many people are at the table.  The more players at a 3 card poker table the better the odds are for the player since more cards are in play before the dealer gets their cards.

If there is less than 5 of the 7 hands in play (I’ll sometimes play 2 hands at a time to get more cards in circulation) I typically only play hands Queen – Ten or better.  The third card doesn’t matter.  This is a little more conservative than optimal strategy.

If the table is playing 5 or more hands I will look at my cards after everyone else looks at their cards.  If everyone else plays I will play 95% of the time.  If this occurs sometimes I’ll just play blind.  This is much more aggressive.

**UPDATE If there table has only 3 or 4 spots taken I’ll usually play two hands.  The more cards on the players side of the table seems to increase the player hands while giving the dealer lesser hands.  This isn’t statistically based, but it seems to often be the case.

Conclusion

I like 3 card poker when I don’t really want to pay attention to the game but want to gamble.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m often a social gambler.  When I want to hang with friends, drink, chit chat and people watch I tend to sit and play 3 card poker.  Because of the big payouts there’s a reason for the excitement.  A $5 game can turn into a $200+ win.  I tend to play higher stakes, but the math is the same.

Delaware Sports Gambling Bill Signed Into Law

Earlier this week I noted that Delaware was pushing their sports gambling bill through quickly.  Well the foot has been taken off the neck because the bill has been signed already.

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Delaware becomes the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after the governor signed the legislation.

Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law Thursday.

Officials say they expect to have sports betting running in three months and table games such as poker, blackjack, craps and roulette, in play in no more than six months.

The sports lottery is key to Markell’s plan to address a projected shortfall of more than $600 million for the coming fiscal year.

But sports betting could face a legal challenge by professional sports leagues.

Delaware is one of only four states, along with Nevada, Montana and Oregon, grandfathered under a 1992 federal law that bans sports gambling.

As the AP article stated this bill will likely be challenged by the major sports leagues.  If that is the case, the NFL will be first in line.  Truth be told, this would be a dog and pony show by the NFL.  They have to give the appearance that they are against gambling even though gambling a major part of why the NFL is so popular.

Once this is all said and done I think this will give New Jersey precedent to move forward to make sports gambling legal in New Jersey.