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Advice on Poker Machines

An ex-bouncer from a hotel in Sydney gave an interesting perspective on the commercial aspect of the Pokies phenomenon. He said that the owner of the pub he worked at had made it clear that he didn't want people in the bar drinking, he wanted them in the Pokies room. "We were under instructions to throw out any trouble-makers from the bar, but in the Pokies room it was a different story, they could do anything they liked."

Where does the money go so quickly?

Let us provide a graphic example of why your money disappears so quickly playing the Pokies.

Assume you have $100 and bet exactly 100 spins of $1 each, thereby turning over $100. Your expected return from a 91% pokie will of course be $91.

However, if you decide to play for a couple of hours then your turnover is generally going to be more than $100 because you will make more than one hundred plays. For example, if you averaged ten spins per minute, that is 600 spins per hour. Over two hours this means well over 1,000 spins. Although you only started with $100, you are actually putting $1000 in turnover through the machine, so it is paying you back on average $910. A simple calculation shows that this averages out to the player under this scenario losing $90 to the house and walking away with only $10, a horrible percentage return by any standard!

Another way of looking at the arithmetic of Poker Machine returns is to say that you are paying an hourly rate for the privilege of playing. To play a 1c machine on the minimum bet rate and minimum rows-per-game it will cost you only about $1 an hour. But to play a 20c machine on 19 rows (nearly $4 a hand) it will cost you about $400 per hour! Most people fall somewhere in between, but either way in the long term it is quite simply money down the drain.

With this in mind you will appreciate more fully the following recommendations.

Recommendations for playing Poker Machines.

  • Don't play!

  • If you must play, find the lowest denomination machine possible. The lower the stakes, the less you will lose per hour.
  • Spend some time on doubling or half-bet doubling. These are the only even money bets you can get on the Pokies. They make the returns a little more volatile but give you a slightly better overall return by reducing the average number of hands played per hour. Doubling over and over is slightly to your advantage, but is of course too expensive for most people.
  • Don't play machines based on the card game Poker unless you've mastered the decision tables for them. Playing like you should in a real Poker game gives you very poor odds on a Poker Machine.

  • Whenever possible, play at casinos rather than pubs. The casinos provide better percentage returns than pubs and clubs.

  • Try and play at venues where the operator provides extras that could be considered as compensation for your money lost, for example free food or drinks.

 

 

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