I’ve obviously written a good many Articles espousing on some of the joys that are derived from Advantage Play, so now I think it is time for an Editorial dealing with the exact opposite. If ever there were a few days where everything went exactly wrong, these were those. I’m getting ahead of myself, though, so let’s take it from the top:
The weekend was originally going to start with me doing some stuff similar to what I have done for the last few weekends, but then a very unique opportunity arose in the form of a play that would require me to fly over a thousand miles in a very short period of time. After meticulous scheduling, we came up with a way to not only embark on this new opportunity, but if everything fell into place just right, we would also be able to do all of the, ‘Regular,’ stuff over the weekend. In other words, there would only be value added and not at the sacrifice of any other value, which is undoubtedly a good thing!
After playing around searching for an itinerary that would best fit our needs, we ended up only booking far enough in advance to get to where we were going as we hoped for better opportunities to arise for flights back as there would likely be one or more people cancelling somewhere along the line. (At least that part happened, so I guess EVERYTHING did not technically go wrong. We were on the first leg of the journey, in the air, when we found out that the promotion that we would be taking advantage of had been cancelled.
Of course, that was unfortunate, but then it became time to make a decision. The individual with whom I was travelling still had an offer he could take advantage of near what would have been our destination originally, of course, I had nothing there. At that point, we had to decide between me staying where our layover was at and just catching a different flight from there to our original point of departure the next day, or alternatively, I could just go with him to the original final destination as planned. We ultimately decided that it would probably be best not to split up, and then there are other considerations such as any costs that might be incurred in addition to the flight back, such as transportation and a hotel room where our layover was at. As part of the offer that the party travelling with me still had, we already had a hotel room set up.
As a result, I remained with the person with whom I was travelling and we caught the connecting flight and went to our destination. The offer that the party had was kind of a two-part sort of deal in addition to the room, but in terms of results, the first part was an all or nothing sort of thing and the individual with whom I was travelling ended up with nothing on that. Of course, we knew ahead of time that such was possible, but a win on that was supposed to be just icing on the cake compared to the Promotion that we were supposed to be doing that got cancelled. Instead of being icing on the cake, a winning result on that would have accomplished nothing more than mitigating the overall losses on this particular trip given that the Promotion was cancelled.
The second part of the offer was supposed to be an airfare reimbursement which, given the cost of the tickets, would have effectively only amounted to a partial reimbursement. The problem with that aspect of the offer was that our flight from the layover to the final destination was seriously delayed, and as a result, there was no way to play for the flight reimbursement. While the E-Mail did not suggest that any play would be required in order to take advantage of the flight reimbursement, upon getting there, we were told how many Players Club Points would have to be earned and there was simply no low Variance way to do that. The reason for that is mainly because, even both of us playing as fast as we could with two of his cards in would have still resulted in us having to play high denominations and putting a ton of coin in on it.
That is actually one of those situations in which pragmatic considerations come into play sometimes. It is true that the Expected Loss going for the $500 flight credit may have been only somewhere around $250, perhaps, but we were going to have to play such high denominations that really anything could have happened and it was highly unlikely to be close to that $250 Expected Loss figure either way. There may have been one low Variance high dollar way that it could have theoretically been done, however, it would have been very difficult to get the coin in in time.
Furthermore, we were both tired from the previous few days and could use the next few hours to relax and get some sleep (we did). For my part, I had been with my kids all day for the last few days previous and did not sleep well the previous night before leaving at 5:00 a.m. to go embark on the, ‘Regular,’ play. I do not know what the individual I was travelling with had been up to the previous few days, but he is a full-timer when it comes to Advantage Play, so you can rest assured that he had been plenty busy. I can say that he looked somewhat tired even when we started out, so having to deal with connecting flights and then the delay that would have us sitting in the plane for a couple hours before take off did not help much, either.
As a side note, I suppose that is technically one other thing that went right. He was able to get upgrades to First Class for that flight to our ultimate destination, and since I wouldn’t really have anything to do when we got to our destination given that the first Promotion was cancelled, I took the opportunity to avail myself of several rounds of free Jack & Coke. I believe I may have had six of them from the time we got on the plane until the time we got off.
The other thing that happened is that we were supposed to have transportation to the casino provided for us, but somehow that had also fallen through. I’m not too terribly sure what the particulars of that were, but we ended up getting an Uber driver from the airport to the casino, and that was fine other than it cost money that we did not think we would have going against our Expected Value for the trip...again...this was only after our main reason for taking the trip got cancelled.
We took care of the stuff in the casino that still had offers for my friend, but again, the all-or-nothing Proposition ended up resulting in a loss, so that certainly did not go well. After all of that was said and done, and after I availed myself of a few free drinks at the casino by largely pretending to play Keno and/or Video Poker, (One hand every couple minutes sort of thing) we ended up getting a few hours of sleep. He made it back to the room before I did, but I’m not entirely sure how much faster he got there than me, probably an hour or so.
We had pretty much booked a flight for the following afternoon, but he had requested to be able to switch to an earlier flight if one became available, and as a result of his status with the airline, they actually did allow him to do that. I believe they were also supposed to be actively keeping an eye out for an earlier flight for us, but I think that he ended up finding it himself. I went to sleep fairly confident that we were not going to get an earlier flight, so I went to bed with that notion in my mind. About five hours after hitting the hay, however, I was awoken and asked how quickly I could be ready. I inquired, ‘How quickly do I need to be ready?’ and was told about three minutes or so. As it turns out, the flight that we had gotten was departing in an hour and twenty minutes and the Uber driver that was to be picking us up was already very close to the casino at that time.
Of course, this Uber ride, once again, added more into the expenses column compared to the exactly $0.00 in the money made column. In fact, we had actually lost about $10 on vulturing Ultimate X each earlier in the night, and I had a guy jumping around on fifty cent denomination machines, so I decided to stay there until he left. That did not go well as I managed to lose another $30 playing off his multipliers that he had left behind. He eventually left, however, and so did I.
The one good fortune that I have always had is that I very rarely get hangovers, not to brag, but I really have to be destroying it the night before for hangovers to even be a possibility. Therefore, getting ready in three minutes was no problem, other than the fact that such meant no shower for me. I also had not showered the previous day because, given that I was leaving before six in the morning, I had opted just to shower immediately before going to bed the night before. My toothbrush had also fallen out of my carry on bag onto the floor in the airplane, and...um...no...I’m not going to be using that toothbrush again. Of course, with all the goings-on, I did not have any time to stop somewhere and buy a toothbrush. The casino-hotel may have had some for guests, but again, we only had three minutes to leave!
Fortunately, the Uber driver hauled some serious butt and we made it to the airport a little before we actually had to. The first flight to our connecting flight went fairly uneventfully as did finding the gate for our next flight, although, we cut it close enough that said flight was already boarding by the time we got to that gate, though it had just started boarding.
We continued onto the next flight and had arranged for a friend of the person I was with to pick us up at the airport. This friend of his had agreed to do so for a certain sum of money, but then he later texted demanding more than 2.5 times the originally agreed upon amount! I don’t know what his deal was, maybe he thinks he owns the only car in the entire Universe, but we were obviously not happy with him trying to gouge us like that. As a result, we ended up getting another Uber ride.
That ended up being quite a lengthy ride, in fact, because we had to go from the airport that we landed in up to the original airport from which we had departed, which is something like a two hour car ride. Fortunately, this Uber driver had a nice and roomy sedan, provided complimentary bottles of water and played some much needed soothing Classical music on the ride. I have only had a few experiences with the Uber drivers and all of them had been positive...this one was the best.
We finally get to the airport from which we had originally flown out the day before, and for those of you thinking these were short flights, it should be considered that, within a period of 25 hours, we spent about nine of those hours in the air and about fourteen of those hours either in the air or at an airport. Eventually, we got to taking a look at our, ‘Regular,’ play itinerary on the way back and due to external circumstances, we were not going to be able to do all of the regular stuff that we would otherwise have done. At least, that’s how it appeared, but we managed to put together a way to do everything at the end.
If you take a look at the ultimate results of the trip, we probably looked at over $1,000 combined in airline flights (fortunately I was a helper on this rather than the investor, but I did offer to take on some of the damage by way of paying a little at a time) we had about $350 in total Uber fares, again, one of the rides was nearly two hours by itself. We probably spent a combined $40-$50 on food, fortunately for us, we both know how to eat cheap when the situation calls for it. Finally, we sustained a combined $50 in losses just on vulturing Ultimate X while we were at the casino at which he had his offers.
Between the Promotion that was cancelled and his offers, he had nearly $5,000 in Expected Value from which $1,000 was going to go to me just for helping. If you look at the expenses against the Expected Profit, then you quickly see that we had about $1400 in expenses, and if you classify that he was going to pay me $1,000 (until the Promotion was cancelled, obviously) then you would see that he would be about $2600 ahead at the end of it all while I would be $1,000 ahead at the end of the trip. Instead what we ended up with was me down a little over a hundred bucks and him down a little over a thousand bucks.
Actually, when it comes to the flight reimbursement thing not working out, that is doubly bad. I did not include that on the Expected Value side, and not only would it be on there, but it also would have come off of the expenses side...so that’s another $1,000 swing overall.
I will say that the person with whom I was working handled the entire situation in a manner that was extremely calm, cool and collected. That’s pretty much how any full-time AP would be expected to conduct himself in the face of something along these lines, but to actually see someone remain so composed in the face of tremendous adversity is nothing short of impressive.
There were also other costs associated with the failed trip in addition to the financial costs. For one thing, it did become much more difficult to do the, ‘Regular,’ plays after getting back because we were working on such limited time. Furthermore, despite our calm exteriors and stiff upper lips, all the travelling around and spending fourteen hours out of twenty-five either at airports or on planes was nothing short of stressful and irritating. Finally, it’s not as though either of us really got a ton of sleep that night that we ended up staying at the place where he had the Offers.
The result is that we had offers that either resulted in nothing or were not what they said they were, and as a result, amounted to nothing. We had a hugely lucrative Promotion, at least what would have been, get cancelled literally as we were on our way to capitalize on it, and we spent a bunch of money and time in the process. Given that we are both Advantage Players, just about anything else we could have been doing during that time would have likely yielded a better Actual Result as opposed to the tremendous Expected Value had the Promotion not been cancelled.
However, that is the entire purpose of both this Editorial and me relating this story to everyone. The point of the matter is that often nothing matters when it comes to Advantage Play other than what the Expected Value of a particular play is, and sometimes, that play is going to get cancelled while you are on your way to it. There are some lessons to be learned here, though:
1.) Factoring Expectations
When you have a Promotion, Offer, or whatever it may be going on somewhere it is important to not just look at the value of such in pure dollars and cents, but then you also have to decide how high of a probability you want to assign to the possibility that the whole thing is cancelled while you are on your way to it.
Using the story above as an example, if we assume that the $500 would have come off of the expense side and went onto the money made side of the equation, then that would have been an overall $1,000 swing. Interestingly enough, the verbiage of the E-Mail was such that this event could be assumed to be all but guaranteed. Nothing in the E-Mail suggested in any way whatsoever that a certain amount of play would have to take place upon the day of check-in in order to get the flight reimbursement. If the flight reimbursement had happened, then expenses for the person with whom I was travelling would have dropped down to about $900.
When you look at that $900 against what would then be about $5500 in money made, except for the fact that he would be paying me $1,000 had everything worked out, so call it $3600 in money made, then you have to assign whatever probability you think to the Promotion being cancelled and then determining whether or not there is sufficient value to take the monetary risk as well as spending the time. If you have a certain amount that you would like to make per hour, then you have to multiply the $4500 that you stand to make in profits by the probability that you think the Promotion will NOT be cancelled, and that gives you your Expected Profit on that taking the possibility of cancellation into consideration. You would not multiply the $900 by anything because that is going to be a straight expense in the event that you make the trip, so it is already Actual rather than Expected.
For example, if you think there is an 80% chance that the Promotion will take place exactly as Expected, then you would take that $3600 in Expectation and multiply it by .8 rendering a result of $2,880, if you then divide that $2880 by the fact that you are going to be spending a total of 24 hours on this particular few plays, then you look at a profit of $120/hour, which will usually be more than enough for anyone to want to go ahead and engage in a particular play....other than the most upper echelon AP’s out there for whom even that would be insufficient hourly Expected Profit.
Of course, if you think the probability of the Promotion being cancelled is greater than 20%, then you simply subtract whatever you think the Probability of it being cancelled is by 100% and then multiply that (expressed as a decimal) from the Expected Profits on the whole thing if the Promotion does happen. Once again, the flight reimbursement thing as well as the all-or-nothing type thing that resulted in a loss was supposed to be icing on the cake along with this Promotion, even if he had been travelling by himself, those two things combined would not have yielded a sufficient Expected Hourly Profit for him to want to make the trip.
Anyway, these are all considerations that have to be made when deciding whether or not to embark on a particular play. It is not quite as simple as Online Advantage Play where the only thing that you stand to lose is the Deposit, there is a lot more that goes into something like this and there are more potential contingencies.
2.) Are you giving anything up?
Another important question to ask when deciding whether or not to embark on something like this is whether or not anything is being given up in the process. What I mean by that is, with the story above, we could theoretically have missed out on some, ‘Regular,’ plays even though we did not end up doing so in this instance. However, had these, ‘Regular,’ plays been missed, then the cost of that would be going straight into the expense column. Whether it be some sort of recurring play or simply Free Play pick ups, missing anything does have implications regardless of the value of whatever it is you are missing something for.
These potential expenses should be considered ahead of time on the basis of the Probability that you are going to miss one or more things and on how much will be lost if you do miss out on them. For this, you would simply take the probability of missing one or more things (your best guesstimate, anyway) and multiply that by the value of the thing being missed and factor that in on the expense side of your equation. Again, fortunately we did not miss any, ‘Regular,’ stuff after our complete disaster of a trip, but it was possible.
3.) If you are working with someone, are the Terms understood?
The most important thing when it comes to Advantage Players of any level working either for or with one another is trust. Trust can come in two different ways with the first of which always trying to be on the level with the person with whom you are either working for or with. The second way that trust can be established is by always being reasonable and making sure that the person you are working for or with is also reasonable.
Unfortunately, not everyone out there (Advantage Player or otherwise) is a reasonable person. When my friend told me that I would make $1,000 on the Promotion that got cancelled and he used the word, ‘Guaranteed,’ I’m a reasonable enough person to understand that I am making that money, ‘Guaranteed,’ IF the Promotion happens. Again, the Promotion was cancelled, but if something like that is not made expressly clear with a person you have not worked with very often, then you might have a verbal altercation (or worse) on your hands!
It would obviously be unreasonable for me to demand $1,000 (or anything) given that the Promotion was cancelled. I would be doing nothing more than making a bad situation worse and, when it comes to actual Advantage Play work, I did not end up having to do anything at all. It is true that I spent time being on these flights and travelling from place to place and that, yes, it was largely a terrible experience for both of us...but that does not entitle me to anything. Obviously, if I wanted to be entitled to something regardless of whether or not the Promotion takes place, then I would need to say, ‘I’ll come with you on this, but I want paid $XX.xx per hour regardless of what happens.’
If you are ever on the end of working for someone and you request getting paid by the hour regardless of the final result, that is not an unreasonable request. However, given that I invested 25 hours into this thing that fell through, he is not going to guarantee me $1,000 even if the Promotion is cancelled, that would be $40/hour guaranteed! If you ever decide you want to do Advantage Play work for someone on a particular Promotion, be prepared for an hourly amount to represent a lot less in Expected Profits (FOR YOU) than some sort of contingency agreement. The reason why is because if you establish a figure that has to be paid out regardless of what happens, then that figure goes straight to the expense column of the person you are working for...which increases their actual risk in the event something does fall through.
Would have I agreed, ahead of time, to some sort of fixed hourly amount had it been offered? Of course! I probably would have went along for something in the neighborhood of $20/hour from takeoff to returning to our original point of departure if I did not have to cover my own travel expenses other than food. That would have guaranteed me $500, and even though I would not have thought that the Promotion had as high as a 50% chance of getting cancelled, (I’d have put it at 25%) I still would take the guaranteed money in that situation.
However, if you want to work for people in the realm of Advantage Play, then you need to be willing to accept reasonable offers...and this person I’m speaking of makes me more than reasonable offers and, if anything goes wrong, he never points the finger at me. He is an experienced professional who understands that, in the world of Advantage Play, stuff happens. When he presents me with an offer that I am going to make $1,000 under the unspoken assumption that the Promotion actually happens, I’m going to agree to that and not demand any sort of guaranteed money because I have worked with this person before and would like to work with this person in the future.
There is a flip side to that, though, and that is if you are the one effectively employing an individual, then you have to make sure you make reasonable offers to the person working for you. If you want to have someone working for you be continuously happy, then it should be such that they are willing to accept your first offer! While it is true that your first offer may be slightly overly generous if it is immediately accepted, the counterpoint to that is that making offers that the person working for you immediately accepts means that they will continue to work for you on future endeavors. If the person working for you is a reliable and trustworthy person, then that is a highly desirable outcome even if it does cost you a couple extra bucks compared to if the two parties had haggled back and forth for some amount of time.
Anyway, it is for every person working for someone to determine whether or not they want to be getting guaranteed money out of the deal just as it is for every person who employs someone to determine what they want to offer. If you offer guaranteed money, then you have an expense with a probability of 100%, and if you offer some sort of contingency money, then you have to base your expense on the probability of everything happening within that contingency.
4.) Is it worth it? (The PITA Factor)
If ever there was a subjective determination to be made, it is one that after doing all of the mathematical stuff and showing an Expected Hourly Profit in your permissible range, you then have to decide whether or not it is worth it. I call this the, ‘Pain in the Ass,’ factor because, let’s face it, some things are just a flat out pain in the ass. Taking four flights within twenty-five hours and spending more than half of that 25 hours either on a plane or at an airport is an unmitigated pain in the ass, is it not?
In this case, one might look at the Expected Hourly Profit of a specific Proposition and decide that, while that amount would normally be permissible, it is simply not worth dealing with. For instance, maybe you do not want to spend such an amount of time in the company of the person who you are working for or the person you are working for does not want to spend that amount of time with you. Fortunately, I consider myself a generally tolerable person, funny sometimes, even, and I try not to make too much of a pain in the ass out of myself. Of course, that leads to people who have worked with me wanting to work with me again in the future. With respect to the person I was working for on this one, I think he’s flat out awesome and fun to be around, so having to spend that much time hanging out with him is actually something of a bonus.
And, he also doesn’t snore, so that’s good. If he does snore, it wasn’t enough to wake me up that night and he certainly wasn’t snoring when I got back to the room!
It is important to recognize that there is much more to Advantage Play than the simple act of beating machines, Promotions, Casinos, or anything else. There is more to the potential cost of something than just what may or may not happen as a result of the play. For example, you could give me a Double Jackpot Promotion somewhere in Las Vegas on a Jackpot of up to $2,000, and that might enable me to play Video Poker at a sizable advantage while putting through coin that could lead to future offers.
There is a certain Expected Profit that would come as a result of such a Promotion, but imagine if you could only hit that Promotion one time in a given day. If that was the case, then regardless of the value of the Promotion, it might simply not be worth it to travel out to Las Vegas once you take the expenses associated therewith into consideration. In fact, for me, it probably would not be worth going out there for that.
These expenses can come in many forms other than just cash outlay, you have the time it takes to do something as well as the potential for money lost on something that you either could or would otherwise be doing. It’s not enough to simply look at a Promotion, in and of itself, and say, ‘Hey, that’s a profitable play.’ You really have to understand all of the things that go into it to truly determine if it has enough value for you...including the pain in the ass factor!
Anyway, the last few days pretty much went as badly as any possibly could, and situations like this are not only possible...but if you do enough serious Advantage Playing...it is almost a guarantee that something along these lines will happen to you sooner or later. Much as with the, ‘Law of Large Numbers,’ which makes playing at a mathematical Advantage profitable on any Advantageous Play in the long-term, if you only embark on plays when it makes sense for you to do so after considering all of the possibilities, then your overall value will come to fruition in the long-term. If a situation like the one I described above is something that you are not equipped to tolerate, though, then definitely stay away from serious Advantage Play (other than online) because if you do this enough, then something like this will almost definitely happen to you.