Dirty Harry’s memorable line may be the right question to ask, but it’s not the only one. When it comes to table hold, luck is not the only factor at play.
Lower than normal hold percentage is not always indicative of “bad luck”. As we wrote in our 09/18/08 post, “HOLD % AS A HEDGE TO DROP IS BREAKING DOWN”, table hold is not a “statistically derived” metric like slot hold percentage. Drop is the amount of dollars exchanged for chips – it does not account for how much is actually wagered. When times are tough, players may buy in chips (drop) at the same level but are probably not gambling those chips at the same velocity. Thus, the denominator (drop) is the same but the numerator (win or revenue) will be lower because the player is not actually gambling as much.
The following chart perfectly illustrates this phenomenon. WYNN and LVS have both been experiencing declining hold percentages for many quarters now. The “normal” hold percentage for Wynn’s Las Vegas properties is now looking more like 18-21% and not 21-24% as indicated in the company’s financial reports, including today’s Q2 earnings release. Absent actual “luck” swings, average hold percentages are likely to stay in the lower range for quite some time.