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Best of John Robison

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Am I due to hit a royal?

30 June 2007

I like to play the penny slot machines that have bonus rounds. My question is about the icons on the bonus rounds that have amounts underneath or a stopper. Are all the amounts locked in once the pictures appear on the screen, or can the machine change the payoff from an amount to "the stopper" once you've selected an icon? Do the selections go by an RNG, or is the whole screen set and it is just bad luck when you keep selecting the stopper on the first one each time?

Thanks for the info.

Linda

Dear Linda,

There are two ways the icons can get be assigned a value. The program could either assign all of the values at the beginning of the bonus round, or it can poll the RNG each time you pick an icon and assign the value then.

From what I've heard and read, most slots operate the first way. At the beginning of the bonus round, the program polls the RNG to assign values to the icons and those values are fixed throughout the round.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Is there any way to find out what the payback percentage is on slot machines in Atlantic City? Don't casinos need to legally let folks know what the paybacks are?

Thanks,
Harry

Dear Harry,

Both Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines publish slot paybacks for Atlantic City. You can also find paybacks on the Monthly Casino Revenue reports published on the New Jersey Casino Control Commission site (www.njccc.gov/casinos), although you will have to convert the published hold percentages to paybacks by subtracting them from 100.

As to whether casinos are legally required to report paybacks, it all depends on the jurisdiction.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


What is the percent return set on slot machines in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia? Are they the same percentage or do they differ?

And explain to me what does 98% return mean. If I play $10 in a machine, I sure don't get back 98% of that.

Also, I believe with today's sophisticated computer chips that casinos can change the slots to a lower payout, say during a much busier time on weekends than during a slower time, maybe during a weekday.

I know that gambling in an Alberta casino three years ago, a person could actually play and be entertained for a few hours on $100 but now, I see a lot less payouts and machine after machine pays nothing. I know it has changed, I've talked other people who say the same. Governments have gotten greedy as usual. So now I go a lot less in Alberta.

Thank you,
Bert

Dear Bert,

I looked at the documents available on the Alberta Gaming website, but I didn't find anything that gave slot paybacks.

If every time you put $100 in a machine you got $98 back, would you play that machine? Probably not, unless you are so risk averse that you are willing to forego any chance of winning to ensure your losses are controlled.

A payback of 98% means two things. First, it means the total amount paid by all the winning combinations divided by the total number of combinations. That's how we calculate a machine's payback.

The second thing it means is the number that a machine's actual payback will approach as it gets more play. Individual players will win or lose, but over the long run the percentage of money a machine returns to its players will get closer and closer to this number.

The technology does exist today to push new programs down to special slot machines, but it is still being tested and you can count the number of casinos with these systems on one hand.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

I was in Las Vegas for a slot tournament a little while back and at the banquet a guy sitting at the table with my wife and me told us the night before he was playing video poker and hit a royal on the $1 machine and after he was paid they asked him to play it off and up came another royal of a different suit. That made $8,000 on one machine.

I wish my luck was only half as good as his. I can't swear he was telling the truth, but it made for a great story. It's been about two years since I hit a royal on a 25-cent machine on a cruise ship for $1,500.

Am I due or has my luck ran out?

Rodger

Dear Rodger,

It doesn't happen frequently, but I have heard of players hitting back-to-back royals. Your dinner companion was probably telling the truth.

Most video poker pay tables have strategies in which you hit a royal about once every 40,000, on the average. If you have played over 40,000 hands since your last royal, you can say that you are statistically due because you have gone longer than the mean waiting time between royals. This doesn't mean that your chances of hitting a royal have changed, though.

IGT will frequently issue a press release when Megabucks has gone over the mean waiting time for it to hit. The probability of hitting the jackpot on any spin is still the same because nothing changes on the machines. They're merely saying that the number of spins played on the machines has gone over the average number of spins between jackpots, which isn't useful information at all.

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