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Best of Donald Catlin

Gaming Guru

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Mohegan Sun

5 May 2002

Recently I received two emails from readers, one from Tom Howze and one from William McAnirlin, reacting to my January article about the Rio and the gaming show.  Thanks for writing guys; I appreciate the feedback.  Not only do letters from readers help me to know your interests but quite often I learn of things that would normally escape me.  Such was the case here.  One of the emails pointed out that the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut had 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker.  For those of you who might not be familiar with the 9/6 designation, it refers to the per coin payout on the Full House and Flush, respectively.  It is common to rate five-card draw games using these numbers since they are the ones that frequently are altered to adjust the average payout of a machine.  For example, in the game Double Bonus it is common to see 10/7, 9/7, or even 9/6 payouts.  Jacks or better games can be found in 10/6, 9/7, 9/6, 8/5, 7/5 or 6/5 payouts.  The reason that 9/6 is of interest to players is that with perfect play the game returns an average of 99.54% to the player.  This combined with a decent player's club can give the player around a 100% return, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less.  10/6 and 9/7 Jacks or Better, which can be found at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas,  return over 100% as does 10/7 Double Bonus.  Anyway, the news about Mohegan Sun piqued my interest and I decided to take a look for myself.  Here is my report.

Mohegan Sun is a beautiful property; it is spacious and tastefully decorated.  I had lunch at The Cove restaurant and thought it was excellent.  That is about the end of the good news.  Blackjack is all 6 and 8 decks except for some four-deck games dealt from a continuous shuffler.  It was 11:00 AM and the smallest table minimum in regular Blackjack I could find was $25.  I say regular Blackjack because there were some $6 and $12 games but the reason for the odd amount is that 1/5 of the bet on the main hand is forced on a side bet.  I didn't investigate these games further.  The regular Blackjack I saw included double after splitting, late surrender, and dealer standing on the soft 17.  Reasonable Blackjack if you can take the high minimums.

Now for the Video Poker.  I had a great deal of difficulty finding the 9/6 Jacks machines but they were there.  I finally found them in the high stakes areas on multigame type machines.  These were all $5 machines, which meant that playing 5 lines cost you $25.  There were a dozen of these in the Sky casino high stakes area and 6 or 8 in another high stakes area.  I found it curious that in the high stakes area in the Sky casino the two most prominent machines, that is visible to the walkway, were 8/5 machines.  So much for the old machine placement theory.  All of the full pay Jacks machines also carried a Double Bonus selection so with full pay on Jacks or Better I thought that perhaps they had full pay 10/7 Double Bonus as well.  No such luck; they were all 9/6 Double Bonus games.

Having found the 9/6 Jacks I resumed my search for lower stakes Jacks or Better games.  Now I can't say that I had time to check out every machine in the casino, but from what I saw I believe that there are no full pay Jacks or Better machines other than the $5 machines in the high stakes areas.  If you play here this is what you can expect.  If playing $1 Jacks or Better machines you will get an 8/5 payout; this is a 97.3% return to the player.  If you play a 25¢  Jacks or Better  machine you will be playing a 6/5 game that returns 95% to the player.  Nuf sed!

Mohegan Sun is a beautiful property but it is no Las Vegas.  See you next month.

Donald Catlin

Don Catlin is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts. His original research area was in Stochastic Estimation applied to submarine navigation problems but has spent the last several years doing gaming analysis for gaming developers and writing about gaming. He is the author of The Lottery Book, The Truth Behind the Numbers published by Bonus books.

Books by Donald Catlin:

Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers
Donald Catlin
Don Catlin is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts. His original research area was in Stochastic Estimation applied to submarine navigation problems but has spent the last several years doing gaming analysis for gaming developers and writing about gaming. He is the author of The Lottery Book, The Truth Behind the Numbers published by Bonus books.

Books by Donald Catlin:

Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers