Monday, January 14, 2008

Gulfstream's Free $50 Gas Card Promo No Great Shakes for Video Poker Players

Gulfstream Park Casino runs some decent promos for its Good Luck Players Club members including drawings and monthly credit voucher mailings, but the free $50 BP Gas Card giveaway is
not worth the time and gas money.

Here's how it works: The promotion runs every Friday in January, and you need to accumulate 100 players club points on the machines between the hours of 10AM and 8PM to
earn a $50 BP gas card.

This sounded great! Provided the casino offers respectable odds on its games and they aren't too tight with the players club points, a
$50 gift card could be a nice consolation in the (likely) event of a losing session.

I love video poker and Gulfstream issued a press release
(link) on January 2nd, stating that their new video poker section would be open "in plenty of time for the thoroughbred meeting", which began on January 3rd. Video poker offers the
best odds in the casino, and I fully expected to find some worthwhile machines to play.

Boy was I wrong :(

To begin with, workers were still installing the new casino on Friday, January 4th (the second day of the race meet). Only The Casino on the second floor was open and the video poker paytables there are

For example, they have 7/5 Jacks or Better (JOB) machines in denominations from 25-cents to 1-dollar (Note: The 7 refers to the number of coins paid out for a full house, and 5 refers to flush).
The theoretical payout on these machines is a measely 96.1% (for players using perfect strategy and with max-coins bet). For comparison, a full-pay 9/6 JOB machine has a payout of almost 99.55%. In other words, the house edge is 8X greater for 7/5 (3.9% house edge) compared to the 9/6 game (0.45% house edge).


With such stingy machines, I knew it was going to be tough earning a gas card unless the casino was generous with it players club points (a casino with tight games should make up for it with comp points). But here again, the casino was extremely tight. On 25-cent video poker, the casino awards players club points at a rate of 2 per $100 wagered. Therefore, to earn 100 points,
you will need to place wagers totaling $5,000.

Ouch again!!

Let's do some math now: $5,000 X 3.9% = $195.00. That's the player's expected losses playing $5,000 worth of 7/5 Jacks or Better.

Ouch a third time!!!

My last hope was the cashback / comp system. But here again the casino is too tight. According to the Gulfstream Park website (link), comps can be redeemed at a rate of $1 per $100 points and you need 500 points for your initial redemption. That means you would have to play $25,000 of video poker to earn $5 in comps.

So to review, we need to play $5,000 of video poker, which entails expected losses of $195 to earn one $50 gas card and $1 in comps.

How dumb do they think we are??

A brighter tomorrow? By Friday January 11th, the new video poker section was operational at Gulfstream. Jacks or Better is reportedly available with 8/5 (25 and 50 cent machines) and 9/5 (1 dollar) paytables. The
theoretical return on these machines are 97.3%and 98.4%, respectively, which leads to projected losses of $135 and $80 for $5,000 worth of play.

So things are getting a little bit better, but 25-cent players would be advised that Mardi Gras Casino has 9/5 JOB (even without a free gas card, players are better off at a 9/5 JOB machine rather than 8/5).

So anyways...No thanks Gulfstream, I'll buy my own gas.

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