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Ask the Slot Expert: The squeaky slot player

11 September 2019

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Have you heard the old proverb that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? If you Google the phrase, you'll find that there are two meanings for the phrase. The first meaning is that the person who complains the most gets the most attention.

I prefer the second meaning, which is more benign. This meaning is simply that if you have a problem, you have to let someone know. Otherwise, your problem will never get fixed.

I've always recommended that slot players alert a slot attendant when there are problems with the bill acceptor, buttons or display on a machine. But you should also let the casino know if a promotion doesn't seem to be working right.

I had two problems with casino promotions the past few weeks. I reported both problems to the casinos in question. If I hadn't reported the problems, the casinos might never have known that there were configuration problems with some of the machines on their slot floors.

The first problem was at the Suncoast. This past August it had a Build Your Own Bonus promotion. Earn a certain number of tier credits on Sunday, get free play on the following Monday or Tuesday. You earned more free play when you reached certain tier credit thresholds.

I decided I would play to get one of the middle amounts of free play. I had no problem with the promotion the first three weeks. The fourth week was another matter.

I played one machine, bouncing around the different bet levels. I left it when my daily points were divisible by five to ensure that I didn't abandon a partially earned tier credit. I moved to another machine, again bouncing around the different bets and again leaving it only when my point balance was divisible by five. I followed the same procedure on a third machine to earn the number of points/tier credits I wanted.

The Boyd slot club system has been in various states of function/dysfunction/malfunction the past few months. At this time, I had to go to a kiosk to check on the number of tier credits I earned. I pulled up the Account Balances screen on the kiosk and it showed that I was well short of the number of tier credits I thought I had earned.

Not a problem, I thought. I know their system sometimes takes a while to update. I waited a few minutes and checked again. My tier credit balance didn't change. It was still too low.

Off to the slot club booth, where my question was escalated to the supervisor. She spent a lot of time looking at data on her screen — so long that I was getting nervous. Eventually she said that the kiosks are not always right and one should check at the booth. She also said that I changed machines a lot. I said that I had played only three machines and left only when the points were divisible by five, but I did bounce around the bet levels on each. She said that changing bets didn't matter. Finally, she said that one screen showed the amount the kiosk gave but they have an additional screen that shows I had earned enough additional tier credits to get to the free play level I was shooting for. When I come back on the collection day, I should have the right amount of free play.

When I came back, the free play was half what it should have been. Off to see the wizard, er, supervisor again. She remembered me and my problem. I told her that something she said had been bothering me. She said that I had changed machines a lot and I hadn't. She pulled up my play from the qualification day. She told me that I had dozens and dozens and dozens of records for the day and that was why she spent so much time looking at her screen and why she had said that I had switched machines frequently.

I asked her if the records included the asset number of the machine that I had played. She said it did, paged down a few times, and told me most of the records were from one machine, which happened to be the last one I had played. (Before going to the booth, I had copied down the asset and location numbers from the machines I had played.)

That machine was the problem. Something caused it to generate a massive number of records even though I never pulled out my card. I don't know whether the problem was that each time I changed my bet the machine generated another play record or whether there was something wrong with the card reader that caused it to think I was constantly removing and reinserting my card or something else. In any case, the supervisor awarded me the free play I was missing and a trouble ticket was sent to the slot techs.

The Westgate installed a new slot system about a year-and-a-half ago. I don't know how old the old system was, but it looked quite dated with its dot matrix card reader display and chiclet keys — no touch screen there. One of the features of the new system is the ability to play games on the card reader display. For the past few weeks the game has been a car race in honor of the World of Westgate 200. If you have qualified when the game is triggered, you pick one of the four cars offered to you and then, after the race begins, you watch your car fall in position on the leaderboard. At least that's the way it has usually gone for me, but my car did come in third one time and I won $15 in free slot play.

I had never had a problem qualifying for the race in the past, but then a few days ago when the race was triggered, the card reader displayed a message that I had not qualified for the race. No problem, I thought. I had just started playing and probably did not earn enough points to qualify. A stop by the club booth was in order to find out the qualification requirements.

I picked up one of the cards for the promotion that they had at the booth. The front side hypes the promotion and the other side is — the same as the front. I think they could have printed the promotion rules on the back of the card instead of asking patrons to inquire at the booth. In any case, the booth rep said that I needed to have earned 10 points before the race is triggered to participate.

I like playing in the smoke-free area by the sportsbook. I had to be in that area anyway to participate in the slot tournament the Westgate had this past weekend. I arrived a while before my assigned time on the bonus round day and played one of the video poker machines. When the race was triggered, I again got a message that I hadn't qualified.

That's funny, I thought. I know I had more than 10 points. One of the slot attendants I know came by to say hello and I asked her how to qualify for the race. She wasn't sure, so she called over one of the supervisors, who was officiating at the tournament, and he said that you just need to earn 10 points in the half hour before the race is triggered at the top of the hour.

I said that I had earned considerably more than 10 points in that half hour. He took down my players card number and said he would look into it.

On the next day, the regular competition day, I played a different machine in the same bank. Once again, I didn't qualify. The supervisor was there again and I told him that I played a different machine, had well over 10 points, and didn't qualify again. After I played my first tournament round, I played a video poker machine in a different part of the casino. This time I qualified for the race. Now I knew that there was nothing wrong with my account.

I saw another one of my slot attendant friends. I told her that I think there is a problem. I can never qualify for the race on this one bank of machines, but I have no problems anywhere else. She knows me and knows that I can understand and follow the rules and that if I say something isn't right, there's at least a 95% chance that there really is something wrong. She said she would report it to the slot techs.

Back down to the tournament area for my last round. After I logged another middling score, the supervisor came to me and said that he had investigated and that there was a problem on those machines that prevented players from qualifying for the race. He offered to give me the free play that I could have won had I been able to participate in the race all those times that I couldn't, which I gladly accepted.

Once again, the casino made me whole and the slot techs had a problem to solve.


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.

 

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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