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Payout Ratios / HA not Publicised - why is this considered 'acceptable'?

Discussion in 'Online Casinos' started by JHV, Sep 27, 2009.

    Sep 27, 2009
  1. JHV

    JHV <a href="http://www.casinomeister.com/meister_awar

    Losing a Poker Bankroll on House Edge
    Perennial Traveler
    I've been pondering on this issue over the last few days, and the more I think about it, the more confused I become.

    Perhaps I'm missing something - if so, please help me out.

    But why is it that it's considered 'acceptable' for online casinos to keep their House Advantage or Payout Ratios private or unpublicised? From my world of poker (which has it's fair share of crooks and clowns, as we all know), transparency is supposed to be sacrosanct.

    Whether live or online, if the organisers or hosts of a tournament refused to correctly report the number of rebuys (for example), there would be an uproar and widespread outrage. An example of this occurred during the 2006 WSOP, where over 2 million extra chips were found to have been 'inserted' into play at some point during the tournament. The industry exploded into uproar which eventually died down, as those with vested interests in the poker industry rallied to come up with viable theories to assuage those who, like myself, don't really need theories to know how 2 million EXTRA chips were inserted. When the "innocent mistakes" which explain away scenarios that resulted in 'advantage' to some player/s are matched by "innocent mistakes" which caused disadvantage to some player/s - I'll start believing that every time one of these things happen with millions at stake, it's just an "innocent mistake".

    Just like I'll believe InterCasino's 93% Auto-Hold Suggested Rules for JoB Video Poker were an innocent mistake that has gone for months unfixed despite everyone aware of it....WHEN, AND ONLY WHEN...InterCasino makes the innocent mistake of paying 3:1 on Blackjacks instead of 3:2 and allows the mistake to go for months without fixing it.

    In any case, washed and explained away the scandal may have been, it was the Number 1 talking point for poker players worldwide for some time. The very thought that full and complete transparency was not the norm at the World Series of Poker shocked many players. Well, I played a lot of WSOP events that year including the WSOP Main Event - and I saw some things (as a first year full-time player) that made me nauseous. But I digress....

    The fact is in poker (whether online or B&M), full transparency is not only the norm, it's EXPECTED and DEMANDED by players. If you were a tournament director who posted an incorrect rebuy count resulting in an exposed 'surplus' - there's a pretty good chance you'd be fired - at the very least, players would be calling for your head.

    Yet with casinos, it seems that it's generally accepted for online casinos to keep their game HA's and payout ratios confidential. And it seems most players don't have a problem with this. I'm genuinely baffled - can anyone explain why this is the case?

    Example: It's not even a requirement for the Accredited List here. Sure, RNGs must be audited by independent third parties, those auditors will fiercely protect the 'confidential' information that is a particular Slot's expected payout ratio. As I understand it, the Slot could have a HA of 95%, returning only 5% to players, and the auditors will certify it as fair if the RNG produces that expected result over x million or w/e spins. My question is: Why?

    As a gambler myself, I can assure operators that gamblers will continue to gamble regardless of the HA - I was interested in playing the Millionaire Casino Slot tery tournaments, and queried CS as to how much was being removed from the pot - as that information wasn't available anywhere, yet the advertising was slightly misleading (IMO) stating that players all "Play for the POT". Well, they do play for the Pot - at least what's left of the Pot. The initial CS response to my question was that the House took nothing out of the Pot - that it contained 100% of buyins and addons. I quickly explained to her how this could not possibly be the case in a $3 / $3 buyin / rebuy tournament when the prizepool was listed as $781.50 or something. She said "ahhh...yes I see what you mean - but sorry, no, I don't know how much is removed from the pot".

    After their suggested emails did not return any responses to my queries, I broached the subject with a very professional and competent manager at Millionaire named Mick. His first response was that he'd have to look into it, but he wasn't sure he'd be able to release that kind of information publicly.

    My first reaction (as someone used to poker tournaments) was complete shock. But then I realised it's no different from a casino refusing to publish a payout ratio or expected return on any given game - and I realised such a practice is widely considered acceptable in this industry.

    I was able to work out myself (on a quiet period) that they were taking 50% from all Slot tery buyins / rebuys, which is high, but fine - I just think the information *should* be publicly available for those who wish to discover such things. Despite knowing that 50% was being removed from the prizepool, I played hilariously long in all tournaments - I *think* I'm in for 30-40k in rebuys across all tournaments, maybe even more :oops:

    Let's face it, I'm a degenerate and it's fun. A casino offering better value on similar games would get my play, but in the absence of a much fairer (IMO) house 'cut', I and I suspect most gamblers would just shrug their shoulders and play anyway.

    I'm not bagging Millionaire here - don't get me wrong. I think almost everything they do is brilliant. If no one cares about payout ratios or prizepools or house edge, why *would* you publish those figures?


    Isn't it more important to know if a Slot is with-holding 50% of your money than knowing the RNG is 'fair'? How 'fair' is an RNG that guarantees the Slot retains 15% (for example) of every wager you make?

    7 people like this.
  2. Sep 27, 2009
  3. deucebag

    deucebag Experienced Member PABnononaccred PABnonaccred PABaccred

    I agree 100%. What good is it if the RNG is fair, if they payback, for all we know, is 10%?

    There are two softwares that publish these numbers: Wagerworks and Rival (although I have my doubts about whether the Rival numbers are correct).

    Microgaming casinos publish payout data, which suggest their slots are on average about 95%, so at least that's something. But they could have some really poor paying slots in the mix, for all we know.
  4. Sep 27, 2009
  5. gloria460

    gloria460 Meister Member

    The players are only concerned with winning the prize not how much is collected to win the prize JHV. I don't do rebuys unless I'm way ahead, very close to the top position and the prize is worth it. The tournaments should not post a prize amount until all entrants have been counted.

    Say casino xyz held a tournament and stated the prize will reflect the amount of players that sign up and it's a 2.00 entry fee. The slot will be TR2 and last 15 minutes with 3 rebuys. The 15 minutes only apply to the rebuys. I would assume that 1000 will buy and the prize pool will be $2000 not counting rebuys...at the end of the tourney the prize has gone up to reflect the rebuys with the house only taking a small percentage of the rebuys...to me that would be most interesting and have more players playing.
  6. Sep 27, 2009
  7. 4 of a kind

    4 of a kind Repeated violations of forum rule 1.16 - troll

    Trans. Tech
    New York

    Can you say "Gambler"? Regardless what the truth is when it comes to online gambling, unless proven to be an outright fraud gamblers just don't give a shit. I would also conclude that these valid facts you state don't mean much as far as your concerned. Just consider the ridicules amount of cash you flushed down the virtual toilet.
  8. Sep 27, 2009
  9. DiamondGeezer

    DiamondGeezer Dormant account PABnononaccred2 PABnoaccred PABaccred

    Antiques Dealer
    NOT Pennsylvania!!!
    This is something that baffles me too.

    I think the reason is most players are just way too compliant. Perhaps they feel guilty about their gambling?

    Some time ago I opened a thread about slot HA's and was even met with a few mildly insulting posts on here. I can't for the life of me understand why the software companies are not more open with their slot HA's. If Wagerworks and to an extent MG can be open I can't see why the others don't follow. As a customer I certainly would play more slots if I had more confidence in the HA's. I really don't think publishing the HA would harm business. After all it is published for all the other games so why not slots?

    You will never find anyone in the industry giving an answer to this question simply because there is none.
  10. Sep 27, 2009
  11. Mavin1

    Mavin1 Dormant account

    This is just my opinion about tournaments. I think they are ridiculous, I have so many times registered for a tourney and see that some people are already at $26k and the game had barely begun. I especially don't see how players can end up with such high amounts on slots like Triple Gold and such, they are tight!
    Makes the little player think the only ones that win these are players that can afford to buy their way to the top prizes, the rest of us are pretty much wasting our time. I will only play the initial free start amount and that's it. If I get up there great, if not fine, hasn't cost me anything.
    It would be nice to see a real tournament where there are no rebuys. I know, I'm dreaming. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2009
  12. Sep 27, 2009
  13. JHV

    JHV <a href="http://www.casinomeister.com/meister_awar

    Losing a Poker Bankroll on House Edge
    Perennial Traveler
    Yep! Also, with payout ratios, assuming they are correct are they published ignoring bonuses or including bonuses? Example: I'm just about to play Lucky Red for the first time after seeing a banner for them on this forum (I've only played RTG Slots once or twice and want to try some of ones on the PreviewGames page). It looks like they're going to give me a 400% bonus (wtf?) - so let's say I deposit $100, and play with $500. And lose it all. Next guy deposits $100, plays with $500, cashes out his last $200 at the end. If no one else played in this hypothetical, would the Slot payout ratio be published as 100.00%? $200 deposited, $200 paid out. Because, ignoring sample size for simplicity, that would be a 80% House Advantage published as a 100% payout ratio.

    Does anyone know if bonuses are included in payout ratios like the above example? If they are, they almost make payout ratios worthless imo.

    Oh god yes lol. If they had 999 continues, I'd probably play all of them as well ;) - damn you Lara!!!

    Am I the ONLY person who CANNOT understand why MG decided to go with TR1 for the 1.5mil Euro tourney when TR2 is literally like 50x better than the old TR1? I'm floored. And kinda relieved I *think* - if it was TR2, I could see a situation where I'd be doing....rebuy rebuy rebuy rebuy continue continue to infinity....AND BEYOND!

    Not sure if I'm reading the tone of your post correctly, but yes and no. I'm a unique kind of gambler I think - I just pretty much want to muck around and have fun. That means I do some stupid gambling as almost any casino I've played at this year will confirm - but I'm also from a world where the word EV is used 2000 times a day on a forum. I was about to post this HUGE response to your thread about "what do gamblers want" but I realised it was just too long as I was trying to explain how I've gone full circle and back again - from being introduced to gambling out of boredom (accepting the -EV but keeping stakes extremely low) to wanting to gamble professionally but too risk-averse to be very successful (I had the technical skills but not the psychological mindset required to be successful at the chaotic world of Scandinavian-infested :p M/HSNL online poker) to achieving huge success in that world once I'd acquired the psychological mindset (which is very much that of a true "gambler", to the point where money held no tangible value really [I understand this can be a hard concept to get your head around, christ it took me many years trying desperately before I 'achieved' it]) to splashing that money on hugely -EV wagers in sports and casino (wagers I could easily work out the exact mathematical negative expectation for if I cared to do so - I didn't because I simply didn't value the money and was bored and burned out from poker) to now be in my current state of just wanting to gamble for fun, willing to accept -EV but only up to a certain point as I don't have huge amounts lying around anymore to burn and no desire to earn more through work or poker (although, when I have played poker lately, I've been playing very well - the game just fills me with nausea - classic burnout).

    There are many different kinds of 'gamblers'. I have friends who take insane risks with their lives (very high-risk behaviour which could easily result in injury or even death) yet the thought of flipping a coin for $20 (neutral EV) would fill them with nausea. And I have friends who, like I was doing for much of last year, play M/HSNL and win / lose high 5 or low 6 figures in a day or a week and think nothing of it - it's just variance but they're playing with substantial +EV so they're not fazed. One of my friends won half a mil in the Stars WCOOP ME the other day yet he's terrified of flying. He's smart enough to work out very close to the exact odds of something going wrong when he flies from Vegas to Boston (minuscule obv) yet he's still terrified - but will think nothing of flipping a coin for $50,000 - losing - and laughing as he grabs a beer. Neutral EV is as low as most professional gamblers go in terms of 'acceptance', and the same was true for me for many years. You might have an MIT professor who won't play blackjack as he knows doing so has negative expectation, yet he'll pay for home insurance which is a FAR worse wager, or buy a PowerBall ticket (also a FAR worse wager). The human mind is an amazing thing, and our motivations for doing what we do are WAY too complex for anyone to fully understand.

    Life is a total gamble - I think everything we do as an element of risk to it. I know smoking will probably kill me one day, yet I still smoke. I think almost everyone who smokes intrinsically *knows* it's a bad wager, but we do it anyway. It's the same with hundreds or thousands of other things in life. It's all trade-offs and compromises. The 'existential crisis' I went through earlier this year when I lit all that money on fire had it's roots in the fact that I spent ages 14-27 working so hard it almost killed me - to achieve goals I *thought* I wanted but, once achieved, turned out to be an illusion, pure fallacy.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is you can't isolate "gamblers" in such loose terms as I think you do. I have the mathematical skills and expertise to bankrupt some casinos (assuming they paid out on all their promises and terms) - but I would never do it for a) ethical reasons b) I have no motivation to do so, if I wanted to earn, I'd grind online poker again. I was disgusted by the Advantage Players of 2003-2005 who had 200 (or more) accounts (clones) bonus whoring every casino ruthlessly. Just because one has the knowledge doesn't mean one cares about it completely - but they may go from not caring at all to caring a little, which is the case with me now. I give authority to casinos I've played at this year to confirm or deny my expenditures; like you correctly say, I've effectively lit huge amounts of money on fire sure - but I can't keep doing that or I'll be broke and I've been broke for most of my life - whilst I don't really 'value' money anymore, I certainly value the right to be lazy (the idea of 'work' fills me with dread at the moment) so I have to be careful now, i.e. I can wager on -EV propositions like casino games, but I'd like the fun to last longer, and to last longer the odds have to not be quite so brutal.

    Basically, no more of this:


    But a little bit of this is ok......


    In poker, the most common tournaments are no rebuys - called 'freezeouts'. You buy in, everyone gets identical starting stacks, and whoever finishes with all the chips wins (usually with a sliding scale payout across the top 10%).

    You're not dreaming, it just hasn't happened yet for Slots. But I believe it will. Actually, I'm pretty sure the new ChiliCasino has these freerolls - but I think they pay out in "Bonus Dollars" which have wagering requirements before you can withdraw. I'm not 100% sure as I'm self-blocked from all 3 Chili casinos as I play poker there and well, bored and waiting for rare opponents on empty tables (H/MSNL is dying fast online) resulted in me Joker-Lighting cash on fire as per the pic above until I finally bit the bullet and asked to be blocked.

    Just reading through the terms of those freerolls, it looks like they are complete freerolls but *with* multiple buyins - however, there is no advantage to playing endlessly as:

    Actually, in pure EV terms taking time expended into consideration, with that formula, you'd be best off ONLY playing 1 buyin per tourney as those games all have -EV. But it's a freeroll and you're playing for fun, so who cares amirite?
    1 person likes this.
  14. Sep 27, 2009
  15. 4 of a kind

    4 of a kind Repeated violations of forum rule 1.16 - troll

    Trans. Tech
    New York

    No tone intended at all. My virtual cesspool is overflowing.
  16. Sep 28, 2009
  17. Jasminebed

    Jasminebed Cool old lady

    Not in workforce
    When I go to a B&M, I don't know the payback of the machine I am playing. I don't hold online to a higher standard.

    I have at points read published averages for Casino Rama in gambling publications for different denominations, and I believe the info for the SLQ (Society des Lotteries Quebec) is available, but not individual machines or games.

    OLG is not all that trustworthy IMO...I know that the Thousand Island Charity Casino near me has been fined multiple times for their slots not paying back what they should (and those "shoulds" are not even public knowledge).

    Even for AC and Vegas, you only have averages for different denominations, although I recall Trump Marina having some banks of slots that paid back 99 percent. And Rideau Carleton Slots and Trots used to have Hot New Games pay out 100 percent for an initial period.
    1 person likes this.

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