The Online Advantage (When the Player Has the Edge)
Amongst the other misconceptions regarding on-line gambling, (such as the misconception that all on-line casinos cheat and/or refuse to pay) there is also a notion that online casinos are set up to win all the time and there is no way to gain an advantage.
Much like land-based casinos, there are a number of different games where the online player can have an edge, often due to a Progressive rising beyond a break-even amount. Such Progressives can often be found on Slot games, Video Keno games and Video Poker games.
Fortunately, online players do not necessarily have to do exhaustive research to determine when some of these machines are at an advantage because we are monitoring them for you:
The jackpot data in this table is kindly supplied by CasinoListings.com.
With online casinos, returns are often expressed as Return to Player (abbreviated RTP) which is simply 100% less the house edge or plus the player edge. Land casinos and land casino players typically use, "House Edge," to express the percentage that they expect to lose or, "Player Edge," to express the percentage advantage that they are at. A house edge of 2.5%, for instance, is a 97.5% RTP while a player edge of 2.5% is a 102.5% RTP.
In addition to the overall RTP listed on the website linked above, the probability, (denoted, "Win Chance) is also listed which gives a player the opportunity to determine:
- Do they have an appropriate bankroll to ensure a reasonable chance of realizing the advantage?
- How much is the, "Drop," between cycles? The, "Drop," simply means how much can the player expect to lose, per event, prior to it hitting.
We need a little more information to answer the second question, but fortunately, if the player clicks on the name of a game it takes them to a separate page with more in-depth information.
Currently, I'm looking at the MegaJacks Jackpot which, at the time of this writing, stands at $932 and offers a 99.4% RTP. (0.6% House Edge) Current information says that the average hit is $1,348, it is hit once per day, on average, it seeds at (resets) $300, and the player must bet $1.25/hand in order to win.
However, without even knowing anything else about the game, it is easy to calculate the return, assuming Optimal Strategy, and a jackpot of $0.00. This is how you will determine how much you are expected to lose, every hand, assuming you do not hit the jackpot and otherwise run at expectation.
The first page on the first site linked lists the break even value at $1,230 and assigns a 1 in 40,391 probability of the Jackpot hitting. Basically, this is just a regular Jacks or Better game with a Royal Progressive in which the Royal starts off short-coined at 1200 coins, or 240 coins per coin bet. The WizardofOdds.com Video Poker Calculator could figure that out, with ease, but I'm going to also show a way that would apply to any game.
Okay, if $1,230 is the break even value and would be a return of 100%, then we take the cash value and multiply that by the probability:
(1230 * 1/40391) = 0.03045232848
In terms of cash contribution, that means the result contributes 3.045232848 cents, per hand, at the breakeven amount. If we divide that by the amount bet:
0.03045232848/1.25 = 0.02436186278
We see that 2.436186278% is coming from this result, at break-even, so we expect a return of:
1-0.02436186278 = 0.97563813722
If all hands that we play at this otherwise run as expected, there is a 97.563813722% RTP when the result does not hit.
Our expected loss, per hand, is then:
(1-0.97563813722) * 1.25 = 0.03045232847
Which, of course, is the same 3.045232847 cents per hand that the Progressive contributes at the breakeven value.
The best part of this simple calculation is that you can do it yourself for any of these games. Let's look at a non-video poker game for another example:
As this is being written, I am looking at Genie's Hi-Low, another Playtech game, with a break-even value of $26968 and a 1/23885 probability of hitting based on a $5 bet.
The expected amount to be won, at break-even, is:
(26968 * 1/23885) = 1.12907682646
The bet amount is five dollars, so if we divide the contribution of the result by the amount bet, we see that:
1.12907682646/5 = 0.22581536529
22.581536529% of the value, at break even, is coming from this result. Therefore, with Optimal Strategy and assuming everything else runs as expected:
1-0.22581536529 = 0.77418463471
The RTP is 77.418463471% and the player would be losing:
$1.12907682646 per $5 bet.
Let's pretend for a second that this and the MegaJacks were both at the breakeven amounts, but both were based on a $5 bet: Even with the lower hit cycle, Genie's Hi-Lo would require a significantly greater bankroll to meaningfully attempt to hit than the MegaJacks game, and the reason why is because the drop between hits is so much greater.
If both games went exactly for the cycle prior to hitting, and otherwise ran as expected, then:
MegaJacks (40391 * 5) * 0.02436186278 = 4919.99999773
You will have lost $4919.99999773 (call it $4920) before the result hits, at which point, you'll have broken even. We see the breakeven value of a $1.25 bet is $1230, which, when you multiply by four as $1.25 is 1/4th of $5, you get $4920.
Alternatively, the cycle for Genie's Hi-Lo is 23885 plays, during which you would lose:
(23885 * 5) * 0.22581536529 = 26967.9999998
$26968, which unsurprisingly, is the breakeven amount of the jackpot.
Even though the Megajacks is less likely to hit, the drop is 5.4822118 times less than that of the Genie's Hi-Lo simply because of the high contribution of Genie's Hi-Lo to that 100% return.
The takeaway point of all of this is that, if you're going to look for online games with a positive RTP, you want to be fully prepared to have the bankroll to have a meaningful chance of realizing your advantage. To do so requires an understanding of not just the probability of hitting, but how much you could expect to drop in the interim.
Written by: Michael Shackleford