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A plan for playing free play

7 June 2010

Dear John,

First, as a longtime fan of yours I wanted to thank you for all of the information over the years.

I'm writing this e-mail to comment on a subject that I don't remember being brought up in the past. I'm talking about FREE PLAY coupons from the casinos. I believe that each player should have a plan when they approach the casino. When I recently received a $100 free play from the Hard Rock in Tampa I realized that I didn't have a plan for how to proceed. Here is what I developed.

The first step is to convert the $100 free play into as much cash as possible. Since the player has to exhaust all of the free play money before cashing out I decided that Video Poker, specifically .25 Jacks or Better was a good way to proceed. I decided to divide the $100 into 5 $20 sessions. I would transfer each $20 amount into my account and then play the 16 hands needed to exhaust the 80 credits. Whatever remained was real money that I would cash out. At the end I would have 5 slips which would add up to $100 plus or minus. I had a decent day and it added up to $138 in my case. Even if it only adds up to $65 dollars it's real money that you can take home or play.

Now they won't let you cash out before you play off whatever you transfer into your machine. Since there is only one counter on the machine it isn't obvious how much you have left to play at any one time. You can count the 16 hands which work fine but, I prefer to add up each win. When the total of all my wins for that session matches the credits on the machine, I know that the 80 free play credits have been played off and I know how much I have made in that session.

Since I believe in streaks, if the last hand that I played is a winner, I continue to play until I have a losing hand.

That's it. First convert the free play to real cash and then proceed to your favorite game from there.

Here's a question for you. If you have a choice, which is the best play?

  1. Playing a single credit per hand on a $2 9/6 Jacks or Better.
  2. Playing 5 quarters on a 8/5 Jacks or Better.

My instinct is to go with the 9/6 since I expect to get more flushes and full houses than Royal Flushes.

Thanks again,
Bill

Dear Bill,

Thanks for the kind words.

I would call that day when you won $138 from the free play more than decent. Even if you win only $1 from the free play, it's still $1 more than you had.

For me, it's easier to count hands than keep track of winnings to know when I've played through the free play money. One can even use a handheld counter to keep track of hands.

As for the choice you presented, the answer depends on what you consider "best." The 9/6 Jacks machine will have a higher payback than the 8/5 machine, even with the short-coin play. But you'll play more hands on the quarter machine and have more chances at high-paying hands.

You are definitely correct that you get more flushes and full houses than royal flushes (if only the opposite were true!). I think I would play the $2 9/6 machine too.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


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

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