Konami’s Fortune Cup Deluxe horse race betting game is both a nod to old-school Vegas and a brilliant new piece of gaming technology. Fortune Cup owes an obvious debt to Sigma Derby, an old electro-mechanical game introduced to Vegas casinos in the 80s. The two games look and behave the same, except for some modern touches and design elements in Konami’s Fortune Cup Deluxe.
The appeal of Fortune Cup Deluxe is obvious after you watch a single round of play. It’s fun. The game doesn’t cost much, and the returns aren’t abysmal. You only see a couple of dozen outcomes per hour, so it makes for a slow-paced and entertaining gamble that’s a bit outside the norm.
This post describes Konami’s Fortune Cup Deluxe game and gives some strategy advice for people interested in playing with a competitive edge.
Fortune Cup Deluxe – The Basics
Fortune Cup Deluxe is an attempt to produce a more mature horse race betting game that still reflects the spirit of Sigma Derby.
The original Sigma Derby was a hit in part because it cost just a quarter to play. Over the years, playing Sigma Derby was more about participating in a kind of gambler’s nostalgia than hardcore betting.
Here’s what you’ll see when you walk up to Fortune Cup to play:
- a large video screen featuring information about the race and, eventually, a video of the race
- a large green plastic oval racing course featuring eight plastic horses and a miniature track
- betting stations for up to ten bettors (some have built-in chairs, some do not)
Odds for each horse are posted before each race. The races are said to take place about once every two minutes. I read a couple of forum posts where players swore the races occurred more frequently than that, and one Konami executive is quoted in an article as saying that one race takes place every eight seconds. I’m not sure which estimate to go with; I’ll stick with 40 races per hour as a decent average of all the numbers I could find.
Your betting options are somewhat limited. Unlike Sigma Derby, you can bet on any of the eight horses to win or place (meaning to come in first or second), or you can bet a large combination of quinellas. A quinella is a bet in which you pick the first two finishers, but not necessarily in the correct order. Remember that each race features eight horses – this produces a huge variety of different quinella options, 28 to be exact.
The user interface is easy to understand and walks you through the available bet combinations.
Where to Play Fortune Cup Deluxe
These machines are getting more popular and I’m seeing more and more of them. According to Konami’s Facebook page, there’s something like four dozen active games in American casinos, but they’re spread around nine different states.
Las Vegas has more Fortune Cup Deluxe games than any other gambling jurisdiction. Just about every big casino in Vegas has a game, usually in a prominent location in or near a bar. The D has both the original Sigma Derby and a new Konami Fortune Cup game available, which makes for a fun compare/contrast playing session.
I played at a machine at the Borgata in Atlantic City last summer, but I don’t think any other AC casinos have a game, at least not as of my last visit in August.
I have buddies in Oklahoma who play in tribal sites there, and they’ve seen the game at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant and Osage Casino in Tulsa. I’m assuming other Oklahoma tribal casinos either have a game set up or will eventually join in and start offering it.
Fortune Cup Deluxe Payouts & Game Odds
Payouts are based on a combination of a horse’s odds and the bet you place.
- A win bet pays off if your chosen horse comes in first place.
- A place bet pays off if your chosen horse comes in first or second place.
- A quinella bet pays off if your chosen combination of two horses comes in first and second place, in any order.
Again, the user interface will show you how much you stand to win based on the bet you want to place, so you’ll know your odds and your potential payout before you place your bet.
Some games include a three-tier progressive jackpot system. It seems to work randomly, with a potential winning horse selected for each race, always a heavy longshot. Should that horse win, anyone betting on that horse would share a random progressive jackpot, minor, medium, or major. I can’t find any record of progressive jackpot wins for this game, so I can’t even say how big these jackpots are.
Fortune Cup Deluxe House Edge
Konami provides Fortune Cup to casinos according to the casino’s specifications. I can’t find information on the game’s overall house edge from the manufacturer, but in his review of the math behind the game, Michael Shackleford says he thinks the house edge on the games he looked at was between 82 and 84%.
Blackjack players may turn around three times and spit when they hear that – but really it’s not all that bad. I’m only losing $1.80 per bet at 40 bets per hour. It’s not the cheapest way to spend an hour in a casino, but it’s no worse than a typical slot machine player would spend.
I can’t figure out any way to work out the house edge on a given Fortune Cup Deluxe game. I’d guess most games are like the two analyzed by Shackleford, somewhere in the low-80s.
Fortune Cup Deluxe Betting Strategy
I can think of three ways to play Konami’s Fortune Cup Deluxe horse race betting game.
Maybe you’re playing for pure entertainment – it’s a plastic horse racing game installed mainly as a lark, so playing it for fun makes sense. Other people may want to play it safe, protecting their bankroll. That makes sense, too. Who wants to blow their stack on a novelty game? A final category of player is the guy looking to hit a huge payday. With a progressive jackpot system in place, that way of playing is also logical.
For players looking to play it safe, back low-risk propositions, like place bets on favorites, and only those most-likely quinellas, the ones that offer the lowest payouts.
If you want to turn a lazy hour at Fortune Cup Deluxe into a big payday, you’re going to want to back the longest-odds horses you can find. Yes, that will sometimes mean chasing a progressive prize. The odds are by no means in your favor, but on some Fortune Cup games by Konami, your potential payouts get pretty big the less likely a bet is to win.
I’m not sure how much Fortune Cup we’ll see in American casinos moving forward. It seems like it could kind of go either way – Konami says Fortune Cup is doing huge numbers in Asian casinos, where horse racing traditions are still mostly intact. In the US, horse and dog racing events are on the decline as the politics of the events become untenable for tracks and sponsors.
Does Fortune Cup offer a cruelty-free alternative to live animal racing? Probably not, it’s just not rigorous enough for real racetrack betting fans – but I can imagine American gamblers that wouldn’t normally play a slot or video poker machine finding something interesting in this new form of machine gaming.
As a new kind of gambling machine with more betting options than its predecessor, I’m impressed by Konami’s Fortune Cup. As a person who’s spent a little time at the tracks, I feel a little handcuffed by the options available. Still, it’s nice to see what’s basically an ode to classic Vegas popping up in tribal casinos in Oklahoma. There’s a certain beautiful symmetry to that.