Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of John Robison
Ask The Slot Expert21 April 2000
I have found some casino employees to be misinformed about how slot machines actually work. I suppose the situation is akin to that of flight attendants. Flight attendants don't need to know Bernoulli's Equation or how thrust and lift make flight possible, they just need to know the routine procedures to follow during a routine flight and the emergency procedures to follow during an emergency. The casino employees may know how to fill hoppers and unjam them, but they don't necessarily know how the machines operate deep within the program running the machine.
Some casinos have special machines that they use only for tournaments; others rent machines from Bally or some other manufacturer for their tournaments. Still other casinos alter machines on their slot floor for tournament play.
All of these machines have two things in common. First, the program running the machine is a special tournament program. The tournament program alters how the machine operates--that is, free play (instead of requiring coins to be inserted) and never deducting from the credit meter, but always adding to it. On some machines you have to change a chip to have it run the tournament program.
The second difference is in the way the physical reel is mapped to the virtual reels in the program. The payout on a tournament program is frequently well over 1000 percent. The RNG wasn't changed, but the number of times the jackpot symbol and other symbols appear on the virtual reel is much greater than on a standard program. A typical Blazing 7s machine may have two Blazing 7 symbols on each of its virtual reels, but a tournament payout virtual reel might have six or more per reel. (Keep in mind that the number of times a symbol appears on the physical reel in a slot machine has nothing to do with how likely it is to land on the payline. Almost all modern slot machines map the physical reel to a virtual reel that has many more stops on it. So even though it looks like you have a 1-out-of-22 chance to land the Megabucks symbol on a reel, the true odds are more like 1-out-of-255.)
Whether or not a casino can change the payout on a slot "whenever they want to" depends on where the casino is. In Nevada, changing the payout on a machine requires a manufacturer's license and most casinos have manufacturer's licenses. You can sometimes see them displayed at the cage. In other jurisdictions, changing anything in a machine invokes as much pomp and circumstance as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, requiring representatives of the local casino commission to witness the change. In either case, there is usually a form that is filed with the state indicating that a payout change was made on a machine.
Keep spreading the truth about how slots really work--even if the casino employees contradict you!
Best of luck 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
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
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