Focus on Acres: Video Poker Analyzer gives casinos valuable player insights

December 16, 2022 8:00 AM
  • John G. Brokopp, CDC Gaming Reports
December 16, 2022 8:00 AM
  • John G. Brokopp, CDC Gaming Reports

When Acres unveiled its Foundation casino management technology and system at the Global Gaming Expo, the capabilities of this revolutionary development to provide 1,000-times more real-time data and direct interface to the credit meter on any slot machine had a thunderous impact on the global gaming community.

Giving casino operators the opportunity to analyze and influence player behavior is a benefit that applies to the video poker component of the slot machine inventories in casinos world-wide very specifically, and in ways that were not even possible before the release of Foundation.

Video Poker Analyzer has the capability to collect valuable data about dedicated video poker players whose ability to acquire advantage play skills can create a certain level of financial vulnerability for operators, while making it next to impossible for a marketing division to intelligently cultivate its video poker audience.

The technology was recently introduced into three properties in Las Vegas, giving both Acres leadership and casino executives the chance to see it operate in real time in the live environment. According to Noah Acres, the early returns reveal that it’s off to a fantastic start.

“We’ve had a chance to make an ‘analysis of the analysis’ to ensure it all works correctly,” Acres said. “I’m happy to say that it really does! Before Foundation, measuring such granular play data was impossible. With Foundation, we can identify and maximize the profit potential of every player instead of just grouping people into broad tiers.”

Acres explained that part of the data that’s collected includes the actual card values a player is dealt in any hand as well as the cards the player decides to hold or discard.

“The Video Poker Analyzer knows the optimal decision in any given poker hand,” he went on to say. “When the player deviates from it, we quantify the value in dollars because we know how much the player is betting. This gives us the ability to identify advantage and high margin players, allowing casinos to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.”

It’s a fact that casino loyalty programs, or players clubs, often exclude video poker from club points or significantly reduce the value of video poker play as opposed to video and reel slot machine play. A player may be awarded one point for every two dollars coin in at a conventional slot, but at a video poker machine it may take five dollars coin in to receive a point.

“Casinos are really afraid of low margin/advantage players because they can play the casino even, plus they’re going to make money in terms of the rewards program,” Acres said. “Or, they’re basically ‘free rolling’ in for a chance to hit a six-figure jackpot, which can hurt the casino’s bottom line.”

Just how many advantage players are members of the casino gambling population who are capable of exercising an edge at video poker?

“Advantage players are out there, but nobody knows how many” Acres responded. “This makes casinos concerned about who they’re taking action from, especially if it’s a high limit player that’s hitting big pays.

“Until now, there hasn’t been a way to factually quantify whether somebody is an advantage player or not. Casinos have used all types of methods to identify advantage players. They’ll look at surveillance video, or they’ll have somebody staked out watching the play, or they’ll just look at the results. But those are all low sample sizes and you can’t really tell from a low sample size.”

Video Poker Analyzer takes the guess work out of determining the skill levels of players, while essentially giving casino marketing divisions the facts to structure marketing outreach to a large population of casino-goers which has up until now been ignored simply because there was no way to calculate value.

“Video Poker Analyzer is able to tell you on every single hand that’s played and whether or not the player played it optimally. If a player plays the hands optimally enough times, we’re going to classify them as an advantage player. The definition of an advantage player can change from casino to casino, but with the system we have, if a player makes a mistake less than half a percent of the time, we’re going to identify that player as an advantage player.

“We have different categories for the advantage – high margin, low margin, and so on. It’s important to not only identify the advantage players, but also the high margin players as well. A high margin player always doesn’t make the best decisions, but the casinos are getting more profit from those players than the high skilled and advantage players.”

This is where the value of Video Poker Analyzer really kicks in. The player profiles that it generates allow operators to re-adjust their marketing strategies and make them revisit decisions they have made about refusing action from players they have identified as advantage using meritless techniques.

It also gives casinos the opportunity to cease looking upon the video poker segment of business as one big unquantified demographic and allows them to identify the high margin players for increased participation in cash back, free play, and promotional activities.

“Video Poker Analyzer pinpoints high margin players that are probably worthy of marketing reinvestment,” Acres explained. “Our system gives the casino the ability to quantify the difference between advantage and high margin guests and personalize the marketing.”

According to Acres, Video Poker Analyzer is compatible with almost every game variation.  All that is necessary is the pay schedule for the particular game and it can be successfully added to the system.

Foundation extracts the data from the machine and it attributes all the data to the machine ID, or to a specific player if they are using a player club card.

“Video Poker Analyzer allows casinos to measure every single pay table individually,” Acres noted. “It will tell you how many hands were played on a particular pay table, how much was bet, and if there was a (optimal strategy) mistake.”

Foundation’s value to a gaming property extends to even more far-reaching levels, which can ultimately aid in the design of dedicated video poker areas, or give casino executives thought to which particular games in a cabinet are the most popular.

“There may be 30 different games available in a cabinet, but up to now the casino has no ability to tell within that machine what games are driving the most play,” Acres continued. “What we do is actually get inside the machine and determine how much of the coin-in/coin-out was attributed to each individual game to obtain a clear vision of where the play is coming from.

“With Video Poker Analyzer, a casino operator will get a clear picture of their video poker business. They will know everything about their games, the pay tables, the machines, the physical cabinets, and of course, their players. I think the most important statistic in terms of the players is how many mistakes they are making and what is the value of those mistakes.”

Acres revealed that the company has a list of 10 to 15 casinos that are in line for Foundation system installation to enable Video Poker Analyzer technology.

“Most of the properties are going primarily to the high limit room because that’s where they face the most risk to advantage play,” he said. “But I think we’ll be expanding to the main floors very quickly.”