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Best of John Robison
Are the video poker machines I play fair?3 March 2008
Funny, I've had the same experience of generally doing much better playing on my PC than on casino video poker machines. But rather than questioning the performance of the RNG in the video poker machine, I questioned the performance of the RNG function used on my PC.
The RNG function in a slot machine is tested for performance by multiple testing labs. The labs look at the stream of numbers generated by the function and run different statistical tests on the stream. Different jurisdictions may require different tests and may set different requirements for passing those tests. If you do a search for patents on RNG functions used in slot machines, you can see some of the thinking that goes into designing these functions.
I don't know what RNG function the writers of the PC game used, but I suspect that they used the one available in whatever language the game was written in. I'd be willing to bet that that function does not perform as well as the one in the slot machine.
Now, to answer your questions.
You didn't mention which casino you played at, but if it's a large tribal casino in the Northeast, I guess it's either Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. Those tribes have compacts with Connecticut, so you can search to see if Connecticut put the casino-enabling legislature on the Internet. If you have difficulty finding it, your state representative can help you find the legislation, which is probably available in your local library.
If you're not playing in one of those two casinos, you have to determine whether the casino has Class II or Class III machines — a distinction I should have mentioned this earlier. If you're playing in a Class II casino, all bets are off. Your results are determined by an event on the central server and no amount of skill on your part can alter those results. You didn't mention that the machines have random bonuses or some other mechanism to "fix" your mistakes, so I don't think you're playing Class II machines.
If the machines are Class III, then search the Internet for the enabling legislation and if you have difficulty finding it, your state representative or local librarian can probably help you find it. Another source is your state's division of gaming. The division's public relations officer can point you in the right direction, if not even provide a copy of the legislation (for a small copying fee, at least in New Jersey).
Casinos can change chips in machines. The level of supervision varies by jurisdiction. Las Vegas casinos can change the chips themselves and report the change to the state. In other jurisdictions, a gaming division representative must witness the change and in others the representative must make the change. Casinos do not, however, change chips at whim. There are many reasons why banks of machines are roped off.
Machines could be manipulated by the casino at any time. The technology exists. But machines don't work that way for two reasons. First, the necessary programming to enable this manipulation does not exist in the machines because second, regulations prohibit this sort of manipulation.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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