Last Updated: July 2, 2014
Promotional, Match-Play, and Non-Negotiable Chips
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This page shall address the value and optimal usage of promotional, match-play, and non-negotiable chips. Before going further, let me define what each of these chips are.
These are the same as promotional chips, except the player must match the match-play bet with real money. They are often not chips at all, but coupons found in fun books. Usually, the player will keep a match-play chip, in the event of a push. Rules can get complicted with blackjack. A blackjack will always pay 3 to 2 on the cash bet, but may only pay even money on the match-play portion. I believe that paying 3 to 2 on both is the norm. If the player doubles or splits, usually the player will only match the cash wager portion, but sometimes the player must match both portions. Match-play chips are usually restricted to even money bets, including blackjack.
Promotional Chips are for one bet resolved only. These chips are sometimes offered in mailers to existing players, as an incentive to return to the casino property. Win or lose, the promotional chip is taken from the player after the bet is resolved. If the player wins, he keeps the winnings only. On a tie, the player usually keeps the chip. In blackjack, the player may double or split with real chips or cash. Usually, promotional chips may only be used on even money bets, which include blackjack.
Sometimes called a "non-neg," these act like real chips, except the player may not cash them in. Any winnings generated from these chips are paid in cashable chips, and the player keeps the non-neg chip. There are usually no restrictions on how these can be played. In Macau, these are ubiquitous in high limit baccarat rooms, sometimes known as "dead chips."
The following table shows the value of each kind of chip in various games and bets. The values are expressed as a percentage of the face value of the chip. The table assumes the player keeps any chip in the event of a push. For blackjack, the other rules assumed are as follows.
- Six decks
- Double after split allowed
- Resplitting aces allowed
- Surrender not allowed
- Blackjack pays 3 to 2 on all chips
- On a match play, player may double or split only cash portion of wager.
Chip Value Table
|Big Six||Joker/Logo (40 to 1)||50%||74.07%||75.47%|
|Big Six||Joker/Logo (45 to 1)||68.52%||83.33%||84.91%|
|Roulette (double-zero)||Even money||42.11%||47.37%||90%|
|Roulette (single-zero)||Even money||45.95%||48.65%||94.74%|
If restricted to even money bets, then the player will get the most value betting Match Play chips on the Banker bet in EZ baccarat, at 48.27% of face value. If that game isn't an option, then the second best bet to use a Match Play chip is the Player bet in baccarat, at 47.95% of face value. If unrestricted, then the player should make a long-shot wager, preferably on a single number in roulette.
If restricted to even money bets, then the player will get the most value betting promotional chips in blackjack, at 51.2% of face value, give or take depending on the table rules. If unrestricted, the player should make a long-shot wager, preferably on a single number in roulette.
The following basic strategy table is for promotional chips, under the rules above. If the player is faced with a real money only decision, as a result of splitting, he should revert to conventional basic strategy. The row for a soft 21 is for a 2-card soft 21 after splitting tens, not a blackjack.
Whether restricted or not, the player should bet these in blackjack, where the value is 99.6% of face value, give or take depending on the table rules. If restricted to baccarat, as is the case in Macau, they are best used on the banker bet. I have in-depth coverage of the non-negotiable chips in Macau on my companion site, Wizardofmacau.com.
The free ace coupon may be used as an ace, in lieu of the first card dealt, in blackjack. According to my blackjack appendix 14, the expected value of an ace as the first card is 50.4% of the amount bet, assuming liberal six-deck rules (dealer stands on soft 17, double after split allowed, re-splitting aces allowed). These statistics are on a per hand basis, and include pushes. The probability of a push in blackjack is 8.5%. I have not calculated the conditional probability of a tie, given the first player card is an ace. Assuming the push probability is still 8.5%, and the player keeps the coupon on a push, the value of a free ace is 55.1% of face value, under the same liberal rule assumptions.
First Winning Blackjack Pays 2 to 1
The probability of a winning blackjack is 4.53%, in a six-deck game. On average, they come along once in 22.06 hands. The house edge under liberal six-deck rules is 0.29%. So, the player can expect to lose 22.06 × 0.0029 = 0.064 bets waiting for a blackjack. The coupon obviously is worth half a bet. So, the value of a 2 to 1 blackjack coupon is 50% - 6.4% = 43.6% of the amount the player may bet per hand.
First Winning Suited Blackjack Pays 3 to 1
The probability of a winning suited blackjack is 1.13%, in a six-deck game. On average, they come along once in 88.26 hands. The house edge under liberal six-deck rules is 0.29%. So, the player can expect to lose 88.26 × 0.0029 = 0.256 bets waiting for a suited blackjack. The coupon is worth 1.5 bets (the 3 to 1 payoff less the 1.5 you would get normally). So, the value of a 3 to 1 suited blackjack coupon is 1.5 ’ 0.256 = 1.244 bets, or 124.4% of the amount the player may bet.
For an outstanding in-depth treatment of these and other types of chips and coupons, I highly recommend the 21-page paper Beyond Coupons (PDF) by James Grosjean. Grosjean and I have some disagreements about the strategy and value of the value of match play and promotional chips in blackjack. I have the greatest of respect for Grosjean, so I could be wrong about those.