Strategic Games


The current model for treating problem gambling is either control your gambling(known as Controlled Gambling) and quit gambling (known as Abstinence). In Controlled Gambling the patient is allowed to gamble on a limited basis. In Abstinence, the patient in recovery must completely abstain from all gambling. Abstinence is the goal of Gamblers Anonymous and most, though not all, treatment professionals (Healey 2006). A new model is devised for treating problem gambling as a generalization of the current model by including Controlled Gambling and Abstinence as treatment possibilities; but also including Optimal Gambling, Correct Gambling and Eradication. The model is based on a process which is trying to maximize the return to the player whilst allowing for the entertainment factor in gambling. The following strategies are now identified:

Optimal Gambling > Correct Gambling > Controlled Gambling > Abstinence > Eradication

The process is a one-way path whereby if a strategy fails for a particular gambler then the next strategy to consider is the next one in line. Every gambler starts at the Optimal Gambling strategy, where the best way to maximize return and gamble is to be playing games where the odds are actually in your favour e.g., card-counting in blackjack. Barnett 2012 (pdf) outlines a method for automating online progressive video poker for profit. The system utilizes the fact that if you are able to make $10/hour on one machine, then you can make $100/hour on ten machines with the same amount of risk (profit is linearly proportional to risk).

If the Optimal Gambling strategy would not be successful for the particular gambler, then the next strategy would be a new option known as Correct Gambling, where the approach is to allow gambling whilst playing the right games and strategies to minimize losses and to take advantage of the free food and drinks on offer (more commonly known as comp points). Note that this approach allows the gambler to keep playing, whereas in Controlled Gambling the gambler is only allowed to gamble on a limited basis. Three gambling games have been identified for this purpose in Correct Gambling.

If the strategies of Optimal Gambling followed by Correct Gambling followed by Controlled Gambling followed by Abstinence would not be successful for the particular gambler, then the final strategy is Eradication. This could be in the form of moving to a country or state where gambling is illegal or a location which is a great distance (say 100+ km) to the nearest gambling venue.

A consumer's decision as to the choice or how long to play a particular game, may consist of knowing the distribution of payouts. To calculate the distribution of payouts on a poker machine requires the probabilities associated with each particular payout. The probabilities on poker machines cannot be obtained from the playing rules (as is the case with table games), and therefore poker machines could be considered as being 'unfair'. Mathematical and logical reasoning to poker machine regulations is given as suggestions for amendments to the 'the Standard' with the purpose to increase consumer protection (Barnett 2010).

Casino games are comprised of mathematical formulations which can be found readily in the literature. The percent house margin (or return to player) establishes how much a player is expected to lose in the long run. While the percent house margin is important to consumers (players are consumers of casino games) in determining the choice of games or how long to play a particular game, there is other information which could also influence these decisions. For example, the probability of the consumer ending up in profit after 100 trials, or the probability of the consumer losing more than $100 after 200 trials, would be valuable information. The analysis of casino games is covered to obtain the distribution of profits and the percent house margin.

Gambling games

Slot machines

Slot Machines - It seems paradoxical that slot machines can be the best game to minimize losses and yet represent the most common form of problem gambling (at least in Australia). The strategy is simply to play 1 line on a 1c slot machine. Assuming 18 spins per minute, the player is expected to lose between $1.00 and $1.70 per hour (depending on the house margin).


Jackpots - The two most common forms of jackpots are progressive and deterministic. Refer to Barnett and Clarke (2004) for more information on progressive jackpots in video poker. It is common for slot machines to be linked to a deterministic jackpot. This means that the jackpot must go off before it reaches a specified amount. This is interesting because if you were able to occupy all the machines when the jackpot reached a certain level, then you would be guaranteed to hit the jackpot and generate a profit. The strategy for the general player is to play deterministic machines when the jackpot is towards the specified maximum rather than the minimum.

Card games

Card Games - Despite what thousands of websites say about making money through card-counting in blackjack, it requires 'large' bankrolls, generally playing in a team, hours of training and a significant amount of concentration and hard work whilst playing. The strategy for the general player is to play basic strategy blackjack with a house margin of 0.59% in Sydney or even better basic strategy Pontoon with a house margin of 0.42% in Sydney and even lower in Canberra casino with a house margin of 0.34%. Refer to Wizard of Odds (html) for strategy charts on Blackjack and Pontoon. Assuming a player wagers $10 per hand and plays 100 hands per hour, the player is expected to lose $5.90 per hour in blackjack and $4.20 per hour in Pontoon in Sydney and $3.40 per hour in Pontoon in Canberra casino.

The full article can be obtained here (pdf)