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Best of John Robison
Ask The Slot Expert28 January 2000
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!
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at email@example.com.
For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
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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
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John Robison