Know the Difference Between Hold and Win
Hold has always been the most misunderstood analytic in the gaming-operator's
arsenal and it continues to be misused today. While many table-game
managers are judged on the "success" of their hold percentage,
Hold has never paid a bill or increased the value of a casino-company's
stock. Yet casino bosses still rely on it as THE measure of a table-game
manager's operating efficiency.
A case in point: A casino manager at a Northern Nevada casino was told
by the corporate CFO that if he wanted to keep his job, he had to hold
at least 20% of the drop every month. The manager, who happens to be
a third generation blackjack sharpie, breathed a sigh of relief because
he knew exactly how to snug up the hold percentage (WIN/DROP = HOLD
$1,000/$5,000 = 20%). He immediately tightened the game rules, dropped
the table limits (to eliminate high volatility), reduced the shuffle
points, started running off basic strategy players, and absolutely removed
the threat of card counters. The results? His monthly pit hold has never
been less than 20% in the last three years, but his annual win is 30%
less than it was before he started marching to an accountant's misguided
orders to be more "efficient."
Three Years Ago
$ 7,000,000 $35,000,000
These numbers have been changed to protect the identity of the casino
Now the CFO is happy, the table-game manager gets to play golf almost
every day (because there's not much that needs watching anymore), marketing
is still blaming 9/11 and California Tribal gaming for their problems,
and the stockholders are left holding the (empty) bag.
Sophisticated blackjack operators understand that the greater the hold
percentage -- to a point -- the lower the win. So what's the right number?
It depends on whom you ask and how well they understand the art (versus
the science) of finding the proper balance between offering smart games
to smart people and keeping the extremely smart players at bay.
Some properties are happy to drop a million a day and hold a paltry
12%, while their counterparts smugly brag about dropping a half-million
a day and holding a whopping 18%. If it were your money, would you rather
take $120,000 or $90,000 to the bank every day?
They accept large wagers graciously -- There are some casinos whose
policy (whether officially sanctioned or not) is to glower at any guest
with the temerity to