The hold percentage is essentially the amount a table wins divided by the money in the drop box. It is a good way to tell how well a table is doing, though it has a few well known drawbacks.
All open tables start with a float of chips. Players then present cash in exchange for these chips. Cash from players goes into the drop box and an equivalent amount of chips goes to the player. Let’s illustrate this:
Table A has $10,000 in the float. Player A purchases $500 in chips from Table A. Now, Table A has $9,500 in the float and $500 in the drop box. The hold percentage at this point is 0/$500 or 0 as there has been no gaming activity, merely a transfer of amounts from the table to the player in chips and back in cash.
Another way to check this is to add the float and the drop, which should equal the initial float.
$9,500 + $500 = $10,000 (initial float)
In the first round, Player A wagers $100 and loses. Thus, Table A now has $9,600 in the float and $500 in the drop box.
The hold at this point is =$100/$500 = 20%
Think of it as the table ‘holding back’ the chips that were paid out in exchange for cash.
In the second round, Player A wagers $400 and wins 1:1. Table A pays out $400 and now has $9,200 in the float and $500 in the drop box.
The hold now is = -$300/$500 = -60%
You can check that in this way:
= ($9,200 + $500) -$10,000 / $500
= $9,700 – $10,000 / $500
= -$300 / $500 = -60%
Now this model may seem overly simplistic and it is. It doesn’t take into account several factors that include (I am sure there are more):
- The player may have bought in at another table and arrived with chips from that table
- The player may buy in at a table and then walk away
- The player may use credit
While the hold is important to tell the profitability of the table at the end of the day, there are only a few reasons to keep an eye on it constantly:
- High-action players (which is really a necessary evil)
- Internal theft (hand that over to Surveillance!)
- Measuring performance of a new game (time to check the mechanics of your game!)
If you are thinking about measuring the performance of games through hold, it is helpful to realize that the hold is really a result and not a cause. The true driver behind the hold IS the expectation of your game.
Once you have nailed the expectation of your game to ensure profitability, the hold will handle itself.