CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Ask The Slot Expert

28 January 2000

Dear John,

Thanks for taking the time to write. I really appreciate it. I've enjoyed reading your articles and I know that my play has improved since reading a couple of books and reading the daily articles in RGT. From your reply it sounds like I learned something along the way. I look forward to reading your upcoming slot book. As an engineer I have a need to know how things really work...to that end I have a question that you might want to address at some time in the future.

I used to think that all single payline machines were the same. Only the pictures on the wheel were different. Now I know that was incorrect. The question is, how are they different and how can I take advantage of the differences in deciding how to play?

Note that this is a very different question that "How many coins to play?" I thought that those articles provided great information and provided a real service to the slot players that read them.

One of my favorite machines is Lucky Sevens. I'm sure you've seen the machine. I first played it in Reno at Peppercorns and have since played in at Foxwoods and Niagra. The smallest payout is 10. It's a straight multiplier. The issue is that it doesn't respond well to methods like John Patrick suggests. It's easy to get 14 or so naked pulls on this machine because of the payout structure. I've had success playing a single coin up to 10 times, 2 coins up to 10 more times and 3 coins for another 10 times. As soon as I hit anything I start over. If I go through the whole sequence twice, the machine is cold and I leave. If I hit 3 pink or 3 red 7's, I play 3 coins for 10 more spins and stay until it doesn't pay. Back to back wins are extremely rare on this machine for me.

I have another way to play the IGT machines like Wheel. I love the games that let you spin to double your money. For instance I have a rule on when to spin to double and I always bet the same way in any one session. I never try to double twice.

I would never play Double Diamond (the machine that gave me my first 2 jackpots) the same way. So...should there be specific ways to play certain machines? If yes, please supply all of the information before my next trip to Las Vegas. Just kidding you in the last sentence.

So you have provided a lot of great information about how to play types, what I would call classes, of machines. Can and should this go to the next step to show how to play certain games? Can you get there from the payout programs?

Please let us know when you slot book is available. If you only hawk ONE book the readers won't treat you as bad as they did poor old Frank.

Keep up the great work.

Yours truly,
Bill

Dear Bill,

Thanks for the kind words about my tips. I'm glad you're finding them useful.

Mathematically speaking, the best way to play a machine is not to play at all. In the long run (100,000 spins and above), players are almost guaranteed to lose money. No money management system or betting progression or technique for playing a machine can change that fact. Still, you can take advantage of knowing how machines are different in deciding how you're going to play a machine.

How are machines different? I covered machine type (multiplier, buy-a-pay, multi-line, etc.) in the tips about the number of coins to play. Independent of machine type, there are also program features (or gimmicks) that distinguish machines. Some examples of program features are wild symbols, anywhere-wild symbols, multiplying wild symbols, spin-till-you-win, and haywire pays. Certain program features imply certain machine characteristics.

When slot managers order slots, they have a choice of a number of programs for each machine. Double Diamond, for instance, has about a dozen different programs available for it. The programs for a machine differ in three statistics: hit frequency, payback, and volatility. The hit frequency gives the probability of getting a payout of any size on any spin. The payback tells how much the machine will pay back to players over the long run. And volatility gives the slot manager an idea about how many spins it will take for a machine to zero in on its payback--the higher the volatility, the greater the number of spins. Volatility is inversely related to hit frequency--the lower the hit frequency, the greater the volatility.

Unless the machine is certified to have a certain payback, there's no way players can tell the payback of a machine. But we can make some guesses about hit frequency from the program features and the paytable. Guessing the hit frequency of a machine gives us an idea of what to expect from the machine. I'll cover how to guess a machine's hit frequency and what hit frequency implies about a machine in my next series of tips. In the meantime, here's a taste.

You discovered that the Lucky Sevens machine you played has a low hit frequency. A machine whose lowest pay is a push or two coins can afford to pay you more often than a machine whose lowest pay is 10 coins. I once had 72 naked pulls on a Lucky Sevens machine at The Desert Inn.

How does low hit frequency affect how you play a machine? You shouldn't play a system that calls for jumping to max coin after a hit, because the chances of getting back-to-back hits are very small. You may want to use a large naked pull number since the chances of having a long cold streak are good. If you have a small session amount, you should not play this machine; it might eat your money without giving you any hits at all. In general, you should be aware that low hit frequency machines have many long streaks of losing spins and very few streaks of winning spins.

I like the 1-2-3 system you described. There's no mathematical justification for playing it, but there is an emotional one. When you play the system, you're always aware of where you stand with the machine. You have a rough idea of how much you've won or lost at all times. You're more involved with what's happening because you have to know when to change the number of coins you're playing. And there's a little extra excitement as you move from one to two to three coins. And some hits are a bit sweeter because not only do they pay you some money, they move you back up to a higher level. In short, you're experiencing the game on more levels than the player who sits there hitting the spin button until he runs out of credits.

All the best 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:

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