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Best of John Robison

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A Quirk about Wild Symbols

26 August 2004

Regarding your answer on whether bonus rounds on Jackpot Party Classic are pre-determined, I believe they are with the bingo-based machines.

I have observed that higher bonus rounds result with specific bingo patterns in the Oklahoma machines.

In bingo-based Video Poker (for example), you can be presented with a certain set of cards, make an error in the cards held, and you will still win an amount consistent with the bingo pattern.

It seems to be the same for any bingo-based machine I've played, the results are pre-determined.

Love your column.

Dave

Dear Dave,

I admit I've had very (very) little experience with Class II devices.

What you've described sounds correct. The game must be equivalent to a bingo drawing, so your results are determined by the pattern covered on your bingo card. Any choice you can make is irrelevant. The pattern on your bingo card has already determined your fate.

This makes it difficult to answer the question about whether choices matter when selecting items in bonus rounds. Actually, I guess it's not really difficult to answer the question. The answer is: Maybe.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

Love your columns. I'm an avid video poker player and have played thousands of hands everywhere from Las Vegas to Colorado to Kansas City to Tunica.

This past weekend I was in Billings, Montana and ran across some of the strangest video poker I've ever seen. The paytables were terrible (8/5 job was the best I could find) and there were no progressives anywhere. The best Royal Flush jackpot I found was only 3200 coins (quarters) and you had to bet 8 coins to get it! The weird thing was the machines played "backwards". What I mean is you had to "press the button" under each card you wanted to discard, instead of the cards you want to hold. That took some getting used to, I'll tell you. Plus, the machines all "suggested" what to hold, and often the suggestion was wrong! They always suggested a draw to the inside straight over holding a single high card, for instance.

My question is this – do you suppose these "weird" machines operate under the same "rng" principle as normal machines, or could they be programmed similar to regular slot machines to regulate payoffs? Have you ever seen machines like this?

Steve

Dear Steve,

I have heard of machines that made you choose discards, but I've never seen or played one. I have however seen machines that suggested how to play a hand and that their suggestions are not always mathematically correct.

I did a little searching on the Internet and it looks like the maximum bet is $2 and the maximum payout is usually $800, which matches the machine you described. There are some machines in Native American casinos that pay out up to $1000, however.

There's no reason why these machines can't operate in the same way as other video poker machines. The machine has to somehow determine which cards to deal, and using an RNG is a very simple and straightforward way to do it.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

I am a system analyst and I focus on slot game development. I found your articles very informative and I enjoy reading it.

Can you please tell me how does the wild symbol substitute in this particular scenario (5 - reel slot machine):

Wild Wild Wild Bar Cherry

Will the wild symbol assumes a bar symbol to make four bars (Bar Bar Bar Bar Cherry) or a cherry symbol to make three consecutive cherries (Cherry Cherry Cherry Bar Cherry)?

If the reel arrangement and winning table are given, can we determine the total number of winning combinations that will be produced after substituting all the wild symbols?

Thank you very much.

Legna

Dear Legna,

You've discovered an interesting quirk about games with wild symbols.

Let's look at the same combination, but as a hand in Deuces Wild poker. The hand is, say, 2-2-2-3-9. Do we have four 5s, four 7s, or a full house?

The answer in poker is that the hand is always interpreted to be the highest-paying hand possible. The same rule applies in slots. The combination should be interpreted to be the highest-paying combination possible.

In your example, the wild symbols would be bars, unless four non-consecutive cherries paid more than four consecutive bars.

To answer your last question, if we had the layout of the virtual reels, we would be able to calculate the hit frequency and long-term payback of the machine. In short, we'd know everything there is to know about the machine.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

I have a question.

My husband and I made our first trip to the Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino in Weirton W. VA over the weekend. We were playing the slot machines. I was on one side and my husband on the other.

All of a sudden all of the slot machines paid out all at one time. There were probably 20 or so machines in the group. Everyone started spitting out coins and then went out of service when they were done.

I have never seen this happen anywhere ever before. What was the reason for it?

I saw it happen 2 different times while we were there that day at 2 different times on different ends of the casino.

Karen

Dear Karen,

I can only guess what happened. It's possible that the Mountaineer uses bonusing software that awards a bonus to players. There are many different ways that the bonus can be awarded. It can all go to one player at a random time, or it can be split over many players. It can be a large sum awarded infrequently, or a smaller sum awarded more frequently.

I couldn't find any press releases describing a bonusing system at Mountaineer in my admittedly quick search on the Internet, however. And machines wouldn't go out of service after awarding a bonus.

To be truthful, I don't know what really happened. If anyone does, I'd be happy to share the info in a future column.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, John,

My wife and I were wondering if the various casinos' players cards that you've always advised us all to use regularly in order to qualify for maximum comps - if they could in any way affect the outcome of slot play. More specifically, if you've won a jackpot could the house control your next winning a jackpot through their players card?

Strangely enough, we only seem to have won decent jackpots whenever we've just started with our cards at the various casinos and this is what has led us to this question.

Thanks for your assistance.

Armand

Dear Armand,

Your use of a players card has no effect whatsoever on your results at the machines. The RNG determines which symbols land on the payline and the RNG doesn't know or care if you're using a players card.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi,

Caveman Keno is my favorite game on the slots. Can you please send me a list of casinos in Las Vegas that have these IGT machines with the Caveman Keno chip in them? We will be staying at Caesars Palace and I know they have them in the Forum Casino there. Also, do you know who has the Keno ABCD games?

Thank you very much for your reply.

Barbara

Dear Barbara,

I don't know which casinos have Caveman Keno or Keno ABCD. Casinos change machines frequently and even the manufacturers don't necessarily know which casinos have certain machines on their slot floors.

Your best bet is to call the casinos and ask the slot director, or ask a slot floorperson when you visit the casino.

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 send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take two or more months for your question to appear in my column.

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