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Expert video poker players have a distinct advantage over casual gamblers and the casinos they visit. Known as advantage players, their encyclopedic knowledge of pay tables and odds can result in a 100% return, or more, during gameplay. And when there are large progressive jackpots or other promotions, advantage players target those games with the highest payback percentage.
“They’ll play it perfectly, and over the long run they’ll have some type of advantage,” says Noah Acres of Acres Manufacturing.
A new product created by Acres Manufacturing will make it easier for gaming operators to identify advantage players. The Optimal Poker Analyzer not only identifies and tracks advantage players but allows casinos to offer casual video poker players benefits that match their level of play.
Acres envisions casino operators being able to increase offers to high margin (or casual players) while reducing offers to low margin, or advantage, players.
“Casinos have to protect themselves against advantage players,” Acres says. “The regular players are the ones who pay the price.”
The Optimal Poker Analyzer is derived from Foundation, Acres Manufacturing’s casino management system that delivers real-time data from slot machines to a transaction engine that can interface with other data sources.
“The data Foundation collects has always been available,” Acres says “But the existing systems were designed at a time when they had limited horsepower for memory. Casinos failed to collect over ninety percent of the data that emits from a slot machine.”
The software can collect almost every bit of data a gaming machine produces. For example, Acres notes that there are approximately two million possible combinations of five-card hands and that each has an optimal solution or strategy. The Optimal Poker Analyzer instantly evaluates the best solution for every hand.
“If you deviate from that optimal solution, we create a score,” Acres says. “And that score is essentially the difference between the optimal expected return and your expected return based on your actual decision.”
An example of an optimal decision is when playing Jacks or Better, a player is dealt a pair of jacks and holds them. If the player who holds the pair has bet five credits, the expected return will be at least five credits or more.
If the player discards the pair, their expected return would be between one and two.
If you deviate from the optimal strategy, we quantify the actual value of that error, and we store it,” Acres says.
Acres says casinos have different ways of dealing with high-stakes advantage players. Some simply won’t accept action from advantage players. Others will deploy tactics such as having hosts monitor play or training surveillance cameras on suspected high-limit players.
But such surveillance strategies can be expensive, and inaccurate if cameras are not perfectly positioned. And sometimes it’s impossible to identify advantage players.
The Optimal Poker Analyzer eliminates any guesswork and immediately identifies not only the games being played, but a player’s skill level.
“There are different solutions and different optimal strategies for every single pay table,” Acres says. “We pick it up immediately. We can tell which game you’re playing, how much you’re betting, and the quality of your decisions. We can actually quantify the variance and quantify the margin provided by your errors playing video poker.”
Rege Behe is lead contributor to CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please follow @RegeBehe_exPTR on Twitter.