Last week I discussed the loss rate for many popular table games. Somewhere there I mentioned a variable that I left out of my analysis to keep things simple.
That is game speed. Most people likely go to the casino with the thought of playing for a certain amount of time, unless they run out of bankroll or hit a big win that makes it clear to you that it is a good time to quit. I don’t know too many people who count the number of hands they will play.
There are definitely some differences in the number of hands per hour between games. Casino War is likely to play 50 hands or more per hour. Blackjack is likely to play at 30 to 40 hands an hour. Ultimate Texas Hold’em is likely limited to around 30 hands per hour.
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But there is another factor that affects all of this. This is the number of players at the table. Ironically, although casinos complain that they can only have three players at a table, that doesn’t mean they only deal half the hands (as compared to six players). You are likely to see an hourly increase in hands of at least 20 to 30 percent. So if a UTH game deals 30 hands per hour with six players for 180, there are now 35 to 40 hands with three players or 105 to 120 hands. A decrease, certainly, but maybe just a 33 percent decrease instead of a 50 percent decrease.
How many hands the casinos deal is irrelevant to you as a player. You care how much you wager in total. As I said last week, Ultimate has an average stake per hand of 4.21 units. If you are playing at a $ 5 table, you are betting about $ 21 per hand. If you play 30 hands an hour you are wagering $ 630. If you play 40 hands an hour, you are betting $ 840. With a house edge of about 0.7 percent, these additional $ 210 bets cost about $ 15 an hour.
I’m bringing up all of this because there is a misconception that table game players bring so much more to the line than video poker players. As I just pointed out, even a $ 5 low stake game really means $ 21 per hand. If you are a quarter video poker player you are only risking $ 1.25 on max coin. However, an experienced video poker player can easily play 600 hands per hour. The total stake during this time is $ 750. This means that our video poker player belongs to the same category as our Ultimate Texas Hold’em player. A $ 5 blackjack player bets less than $ 300 an hour even when the game is played with only two or three players at 50 hands an hour.
Blackjack and Jacks or better video poker pay out similarly with 99.5 percent. However, if you bet $ 750 an hour you can expect to lose about $ 3.75 on video poker and about $ 1.50 on blackjack. The good news is that there is no high cost for an hour of entertainment. But don’t make a mistake. When one spouse is playing tables and the other is playing video poker, it may not be so clear which one is really risking more.