I already have expressed concern on this blog that the high taxes New York will impose on its casinos might inhibit their ability to offer competitive games and comps. With the issuance of a license for the Rivers casino in Schenectady imminent, I decided to see what kinds of video poker — the casino game I play most often — its parent company, Rush Street gaming, offers in the three casinos it presently operates. I quickly checked on vPfree2, a free, fairly reliable guide to video poker offerings, to see what games worth playing may be offered at the Rush St. owned casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Illinois.
The listing for the Rivers in Pittsburgh states that casino offers “nothing good,” which is pretty bad, since games with paybacks as low as 97.9% can earn a listing. In Illinois, the best game offered returns 99%, which is not horrible, but not great. And in Philadelphia, a competitive market, the best game listed is double-double bonus for $1, which returns 98.98% with expert play.
I try to limit my play to machines paying 99.54% or more, meaning full pay (9/6) jacks or better or, in the northeast, pick ’em poker (even better games are available elsewhere, primarily Las Vegas and Reno). 9/6 jacks is available for as little as a quarter in Connecticut, and is offered at the $5 level at Turning Stone. Pick ’em poker, which pays back 99.95% with expert play, is available for $1 and up at Mohegan Sun (the full pay jacks and pick ’em machines at MS do not award players’ club points, though other offers are extended to players of those machines).
If a casino feels it can offer substandard video poker, which Rush Street clearly does, imagine what the paybacks are on its non-video poker slot machines, where the average pay back cannot readily be ascertained by the player.
Although the above information does not guarantee there will be no playable games at the new Rivers casino in Schenectady, I am not overly optimistic that I will find anything there that is more attractive than what’s offered at the venues I now frequent, especially on a long-term basis. I will check it out, but I’m not going to let a relatively convenient location suck me into playing substandard games that don’t give me a fair chance. You shouldn’t either. More to come on this after opening day . . .