CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
John Robison Archives
More Strategy Experts

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Ask the Slot Expert: Did Tunica's casinos tighten their slots after the 2011 flood?

4 May 2016

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: I know there is no such thing as the RNG from all my research and reviews from slot machine programmers. With that said, I also have seen a massive decline in jackpot winners since the market crashed AND major floodings. The casinos have decreased their percentages favoring the players....this is absolute. Instead of having a 90% to 98% exchange on long term, their machines are now only paying out 75% to 80%.

The last time I was in Vegas (three years ago), all I did was feed machines. I had been visiting Tunica since that time and did well until the casinos flooded from the rise of the Mississippi River. Most were closed for a few months and when they reopened, every single machine was NOT paying out to anyone and have been the same way since. There's only very sporadic jackpot wins throughout all the casinos. Since the flood in Tunica I strongly believe the casinos are thieves.

It is amazing when I feed a $1 machine a $100 bill and get not ONE hit, no cherry, no bar, nothing. This is constant on so many slot machines nowadays.

All the promotions and giveaways are a joke. Let the machines pay out and stop all this nonsense with promotions.

Answer: Hmm. I would like to see your research and "reviews from slot machine programmers" indicating there is no such thing as an RNG. If there is no RNG, can you please tell me how the machines determine where to stop their reels?

I'd also liked to know how you determined that the long-term paybacks on the slots in Tunica's casinos have fallen below 80%. You really can't estimate long-term payback by playing a machine — unless you play a few hundred thousand spins!

I think it is possible that the overall percentage returned to players has decreased in the last decade. This decrease is not because casinos have decreased the long-term payback they want for each denomination (i.e., ordering 90% long-term payback quarter machines instead of 92%). The decrease arises from low-paying penny machines replacing higher-paying nickel, quarter and dollar machines.

In any case, in some jurisdictions a long-term payback of 80% or below is illegal. And even if a jurisdiction allows paybacks that low, competition keeps them much higher.

The proliferation of penny machines also explains why we see fewer jackpots today. Many players play less than full coin on penny machines, so they'll never hit a machine's top jackpots. In addition, with bets spread over so many paylines, even a 1,000-for-1 payout on a winning combination may only be enough for a couple of buffets.

As for feeding the machines the last time you were in Las Vegas, that happens. I remember one trip many (many) years ago that was very profitable. I just couldn't lose. When I got home, I booked another trip to come back a few weeks later.

On the second trip, I just couldn't win. Machines that were my personal ATMs on the first trip turned into bill-sucking vampires on the second.

My bankroll nearly gone, I had to do many free or nearly free things on the second trip. A one-shot slot tournament near the Flamingo; winner gets $50. A $20-for-$10 promotion at the Riviera. Pay $10 and get $10 worth of credits on special slot machines. If you won more than $20, you kept the money. Otherwise you could choose a gift from their display case of $20 gift items that were really worth about $5.

Moving on to not getting one hit from $100 played on a dollar machine, I would like to know how much you were betting per spin and what machines you were playing. The lowest hit frequency I've seen on a traditional, reel-spinning machine is about 5%. If you played 100 spins at $1 each, it would not be that unusual to get no hits instead of the five we expect. (I once played a machine that I knew had a hit frequency of about 5% and went 80 spins without a hit.) If you played only 33 spins at $3 each or 20 at $5, it's even more likely that you would get no hits. Even if the hit frequency was a more typical 10%-15%, it would not be very unlikely to get no hits from 20-30 spins.

Casino promotions are inevitable in most areas. I attended a seminar about effective casino promotions at the last Global Gaming Expo. One attendee complained that he was running giveaways and sweepstakes each month to match what his competitors were doing and asked if there was any way to break the cycle. The expert on the panel said that he answered his own question. As long as the competition was running these promotions, he had to run them too.

In any case, eliminating the promotions would not raise slot paybacks. First, in many casinos, the cost of the promotions is charged to a marketing budget. And second, the amount given away is so small compared to what the casino wins each month that even if the cost of the promotions were added back to the machines, it would have a negligible effect on their long-term paybacks.

Whenever there is a significant event in a casino, players always claim that it caused the casino to lower the paybacks on its machines. Heck, even an insignificant event can cause players to have that belief.

Many years ago I was doing fairly well on a machine at Caesars Palace. A slot tech was working on the machines in the area. He asked me if he could make a quick change to the machine. All he had to do was lower the volume a little, as he had done to the other machines in the area.

Of course, I started losing after he lowered the volume. I couldn't help thinking that the change in volume caused the change in my luck, even though I knew that my subsequent losing streak was just a normal consequence of randomness.

The flood you're referring to took place in May 2011. The Mississippi Gaming Commission, fortunately, has an archive of Slot Win Reports on its site. We can compare the win percentages before the flood with those after to see if the casinos really have lowered the long-term paybacks on their machines. Let's compare the numbers from March 2011 and March 2012 for the Northern region (Tunica).

Right away we have a problem. There are no penny machines on the 2011 report. We do have nickels and their win percentage decreased from 7.51% to 6.72%. Nickel players were actually doing a little better. This denomination is a bad one to look at, however, because the nickel machines are all being replaced with penny machines. I wouldn't be surprised if they're all gone in a few more years (there are still 215 machines reported on the March 2016 report).

There is also a drop in the number of quarter machines and the amount played on them. But the win on the machines stayed about the same, 6.94% in 2011 and 6.89% in 2012. At the dollar denomination, the number of machines is about the same (1,293 in 2011 and 1,120 in 2012) and the win percentage is also about the same (5.46% versus 5.50%).

The overall win percentage for the region actually decreased from 8.02% to 7.88%, but I wouldn't read much into this drop because there were some incredibly lucky $25 and $100 slot players in March 2012. I backed out the numbers for those denominations in both years and got an overall win percentage of 8.06% for 2011 and 8.08% for 2012.

The numbers don't support your contention that the Tunica casinos tightened their machines after the flood.

As I said before, every time there is a significant event — an adverse event — affecting a casino, my inbox gets flooded with e-mails complaining that the casino tightened its machines because of the event.

I've learned to take these claims with a grain of salt, no matter how many of them I receive. The players who write do not make up a random sample. I rarely hear from the players who did about the same or even won more after the event.

Only the players who lose write, and they're looking for some larger explanation than normal randomness and a run of bad luck.


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 

Ask the Slot Expert: Turn in money you find in a casino

27 April 2016
Question: This year I see a big change in the Konami Lion Festival machines at the Maryland Live casino. The machines pay differently and the reels drop differently. I believe Live has changed all the machines in the casino because MGM will open later this year near Washington, D.C. The casino tells me it has no control over the pay out or the way the machine operates. ... (read more)
 

Ask the Slot Expert: Slot machines with bet buttons labeled good, better and best

20 April 2016
Question: I know all about the RNG and slot machines. However, I noticed some machines have good, better and best on the choices. For example, the 30-cent bet will have good on the button. The 90-cent button and above will have better or best on the button. That does not sound like the machine is random. ... (read more)
 

Ask the Slot Expert: Do slot machines hit more frequently when I bet more?

13 April 2016
Question: Re: the question you discussed about receiving relatively small payouts for a large number of free spins on penny slots. I just returned from a trip to A.C. two days ago and won 80 free spins while playing $1 per spin. My total for the 80 free spins? $36.40. Sadly, the machine was one of those with the option to take the money or take the free spins. ... (read more)

Next 10 Articles >

  • Featured Articles

Hit Frequency, Reno, Atlantic City, Double Up

Hi there, Has there ever been any research done into what number of times a slot machine will pay "anything" during one hundred spins on the average? I have counted many times and find the average slot machine will pay roughly 16 times out of 100 spins. That includes winning a lowly cherry return to a bigger win. ... (read more)
 

Slot Machine Pay Off

Dear John, In reference to the reader's question about slot machines where you play for gold or silver tokens: In Las Vegas, many of the casinos have 25-cent slots that pay off a $10 jackpot with a $10 silver souvenir token. ... (read more)
 

Declare Your Independence from the Slots

On this Independence Day as we celebrate 226 years of independence from the tyranny of the British, consider making your own Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of the slot machines. You don't have to stop playing machines altogether. Just switch to playing video ... (read more)
 

Guide to Winning at Slots: The Best Number of Coins to Play

Every casino guide to gaming recommends playing maximum coins on all slot machines. And almost everyone who's written a book about slots also recommends playing maximum coins when playing a slot machine. I analyzed over 1,000 slot machine programs and I discovered that ... (read more)
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots