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Best of John Robison

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Are the results of bonus spins pre-determined?

24 September 2007

When a machine has a bonus round, e.g., IGT's Mystical Mermaid, how is the ultimate outcome determined? If I understand correctly how slots work, a random number generator is cycling at all times until you hit the spin button. The numbers are selected and the stopping of the reels is solely for the player's entertainment. Is the outcome of a bonus round pre-determined as well?

Thanks,
Rich

P.S. If you are not familiar with the Mystical Mermaid game, the player may add bonus spins during the bonus, possibly having 90 or more spins during the bonus.

Dear Rich,

It's not so much that the stopping of the reels is for the player's entertainment, it's the reels themselves. The result of the spin isn't really pre-determined by the RNG, it's determined by the RNG. The reels are just how the machine reveals the outcome. Seeing three reels spin and stop is much more entertaining than seeing the three numbers that are the chosen virtual stops.

The results of the bonus spins are not determined by the initiating spin. For each bonus spin, the machine polls the RNG to find out the result.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Is it just me or have all the casinos gotten tighter over the year?

It seems back 10 years ago my wife and I always had good luck. Now we just give them our money.

We live in Texas and go to all of them in new Mexico and Louisiana.

I receive many e-mails each year from players saying that they think casinos have gotten tighter over the years. I almost never receive e-mails from people saying that they're winning more now.

I compared the overall paybacks for the Atlantic City casinos for August 1999, which I found in an old issue of Strictly Slots, with paybacks from the 12 months beginning July 1, 2005, which I found at the American Casino Guide site. Of the 10 casinos that existed in both time periods, four casinos reported higher payback percentages and six lower. But of those six casinos reporting lower paybacks, the difference for two of them was 0.1 percentage points, which could just be a result of rounding and isn't significant.

I think the paybacks by denomination are pretty much the same. Today's casinos get more revenue from food, beverage, rooms and shopping than yesterday's casinos, and casino revenue isn't as large a part of a casino's overall revenue as it used to be. There's less pressure to squeeze more money out of the casino floor now.

We have to be careful comparing overall paybacks because of another change occurring on the slot floor. There are many more low-denomination machines today than before and those machines are getting much more play. Even though a casino's machines still pay back the same percentage by denomination, the casino's overall payback can go down because lower-paying low-denomination machines are a much bigger part of the average.

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