Promotions are a necessary part of running all casinos. They help bring players into the casino during slow times. Filling seats at the slots and tables is the first step to profitability. However, the mathematics of promotions is not well understood in the industry. Promotions like 2-to-1 blackjack specials or multiple-car giveaways continue in the face of a history of exploitation by advantage players. Without this understanding, casinos sometimes take unreasonable and ineffective steps to limit advantage play.

One of the more common promotions is called a "Blackjack Happy Hour." The point is to draw players into the casino during slow days, with the expectation that once the player is on the property, he will stay and lose back far more than is given out. When APs discover these promotions, they show up for the promotion, take the cash, and leave. Casinos that take actions to limit APs from their promotions also face retribution from those they want to draw.

Shown below is a poorly thought out example of a "Happy Hour" promotion.  The promotion is extremely profitable to the AP. The terms and conditions will infuriate the ordinary player, while causing few obstacles for the skilled player.  After 10 different T&Cs designed to discourage APs, T&C #11 brings welcome relief.

Imagine the challenges this promotion caused dealers, staff and security. Just remembering the bonus payouts is a lot of effort. Special cases (like 7-7, or AK of hearts) only add to the challenge. Add to that having to watch out for people from Nevada or Mississippi, those who are giving a few dollars to a friend to play, or the difference between a team and a group of friends playing together, and you have one fine mess.


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Received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1983. Eliot has been a Professor of both Mathematics and Computer Science. Eliot retired from academia in 2009. Eliot Jacobson