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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask The Slot Expert

14 June 2001

Dear John,

I have lost a big fortune playing the Japanese-made slot machines.

Please advise how to avoid losing that much and how to win.

I would also appreciate it if you could explain the theory behind computerized slot machines and how to wait for the opportunity.

Regards,
KW

Dear KW,

I'm not familiar with Japanese-made slot machines, but I assume they work like American-made machines. The results of each spin are chosen at random and there's no way to predict when a machine will hit a winning combination.

The best ways to avoid losing too much money are to play one coin instead of multiple coins and to have a gambling budget of money you can afford to lose. If you are a disciplined player and stick to your budget, you won't lose another fortune to the machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos!
John

Dear John,

Many thanks for your advice.

My friends and I have tried various methods, but many of us failed eventually due to greed. Many of them sold properties and some even committed suicide.

I am just wondering how these machine work.

I and many others have tried bringing bundles of money and fighting only one machine, but the more we play, the more it eats up our money. (Note: We are playing in a clubhouse where there are only 10 machines per club).

On the next day, after the machine cools down, it will start paying but in stages. So we all very confused and we need expert advice or someone who can explain the theory behind these machines.

Hope you can provide us the solution.

Regards,
KW

Dear KW,

I can tell you how machines manufactured according to the standards of most U.S. gaming jurisdictions operate, but I don't know if your machines operate the same way. For example, I've been told that British slot machines are not truly random. They would be illegal in the United States.

The computer program running a slot machine has a special function in it called the Random Number Generator (RNG). The only purpose of this function is to generate a stream of numbers that appear to be random. Nothing is random in a computer, so the stream of numbers are not truly random, but they satisfy many of the tests for randomness.

When the player presses the Spin button or pulls the handle, the program asks the RNG for a number. Let's say the number is 739. That number tells the program to stop the first reel on stop number 7, the second on stop number 3, and the third on stop number 9. The actual process of taking the output from the RNG and figuring out where to stop the reels is more complicated, but this is basically the way it works.

The RNG doesn't keep track of or care about the numbers it has generated in the past. The outcome of one spin has no effect on the outcome of any other spin. There's no way to predict when a machine will pay off and when it will be cold.

This is how all machines manufactured by IGT, WMS Gaming, Bally, and even the new gaming division of Konami operate. Your machines may operate differently. They may have additional programming to force them into hot and cold streaks. They may keep track of how much they've paid out and turn cold if they've paid out too much or get hot if they've paid out too little. I suspect your clubs may not have many regulations about how their machines operate and how much they have to pay back at a minimum.

The best advice I can offer is to gamble only money you can afford to lose. Treat gambling as entertainment. When you go to a movie, you know how much the movie will cost and you also know that there's no way you will get that money back. Figure out how much you're willing to spend on gambling and quitwhen you've played enough or have run out of money.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos!
John

Dear John,

Thank you very much for your reply.

I would like to exchange some ideas with you and I hope you can figure out a way to further advise on this matter.

Our clubs were at one time using the Bally brand, and then these machines were replaced by the Japanese brand Taito.

Our machines come in the video format and we can play from 1-8 coins (all one-dollar coins), and it pays on from 1-8 lines depending on how many coins are played. There are 3 rows and 3 columns, making a total of 9 pictures.

Many people play 8 coins in order not to miss out on any payments on lines not played.....and ended up losing a big fortune.

The payments range from 4 coins to 1000 coins. For example:

For JQK machines, there are 8 symbols: Blank, J, Q, K, red 7, blue 7, and Joker. Joker represents everything and multiply by 2 for 1 joker, 4 for 2 jokers, 8 for 3 jokers and so on. The pays are as follows: JJJ $10; QQQ $20; KKK $40; 3 mixed 7s $50; 3 red 7s $100; 3 blue 7s $200; 3 jokers $1000. If any of the above combinations have 1 or 2 jokers,the payment will be multiplied by 2 and 4 for 1 and 2 jokers, respectively. Example: Joker/Joker/Blue 7 will pay $800 ($200 x 4).

The machines have no progressive jackpot. Instead they have Bonus Payments, as follows:
9 Blanks $26; 9 Faces $100; 9 Js $2000; 8 Js $1000; 7 Js $200; 6 Js $40; 5 Js $20; 4 Js $4;
9 Qs $5000; 8 Qs $2,500; 7 Qs $500;...and so on;
9 Ks $10,000; 8 Ks $5000; 7 Ks $1000;...and so on;
9 mixed 7s $25,000, 8 mixed 7s $12,500; 7 mixed 7s $2,500;
9 red 7s $50,000; 8 red 7s $25,000; 7 red 7s $5,000; and so on;
9 blue 7s $100,000; 8 blue 7s $50,000; 7 blue 7s $10,000.
"Joker will multiply by 2."
And the maximum payment is $100,000.

So, everyone is hoping for the big bonus payments, but they come only maybe once or twice a year. I hit 7 Ks (there were 4 jokers and 3 Ks) and the payment was $1000 x 16 =$16,000. There are people who hit $100,000 also.

What irks me most is that everyone thought that if someone lost, say, $3,000-$5,000 for half a day's play, the machine should pay out. But instead it keeps on swallowing. When the club closed for the night and opened the next day, the machine will start to pay little by little but in between it eats up lots of money.

Regards,
KW

Dear KW,

I also hate to miss out on winning when a winning combination lands on a payline I haven't activated, so I usually play 3-5 or more lines on a multi-line machine. But the truth is that most payouts are straight multiples of how much you bet and it is rarely worth the extra risk to play more than one line.

Progressives on which you have to play all lines are one exception to the play one line rule. If your Bonus Payments are paid only when you play all lines, your machine is another exception. I don't know how much of the payout from the machine is given in the Bonus Payments and you may be playing at a very low payback unless you are eligible for the bonuses.

If you get the bonuses for one coin, I would play only one coin at a time. That will stretch your bankroll quite a bit compared with playing eight coins at a time. If you have to play eight coins to get the bonuses, then the only thing you can do is budget an amount you can afford to lose and hope for the best.

You wrote: "What irks me most is that everyone thought that if someone lost, say, $3,000-$5,000 for half a day's play, the machine should pay out."

This is called the Gambler's Fallacy or the Law of Averages. It seems like a machine that has been cold should turn hot to make up for all the money it has won from its players, but the machine doesn't have to. What is true, however, is that one person's session in which he loses $3,000 to $5,000 is a very small part of the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars played through a machine. Over the course of a machine's lifetime, it will pay out a percentage of money very close to the amount it is programmed to pay out. Individual players will have results ranging from big losses to big wins, but overall the casino will have won whatever percentage it is supposed to win from all the money played through a machine.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos!
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@home.com.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
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