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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask The Slot Expert

4 October 2001

Hey John,

Do the new novelty games such as Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and so on have better payouts and more frequent winners than the traditional slot machines? And what do you think is the best money denomination to play for most hits?

Maureen

Dear Maureen,

The new machines tend to have lower long-term paybacks than traditional machines for a few reasons. First, many are participation games. That means that the manufacturer gets a cut of the money that the slot machine wins. The casino still needs to make its 5% or whatever from the machine. More hands in the pie means a smaller slice for the players. Casinos keep all of the money that most of the traditional slot machines win because they own most of them.

Second, many of these machines are wide-area progressives. Wide-area progressives have high holds (low paybacks, usually less than 90%) because a few percent goes to the casino, a few percent goes to the manufacturer, and a few percent goes to pay for the huge jackpots.

One other reason these machines tend to have lower long-term paybacks is because many of them are nickel machines and nickel machines traditionally have low paybacks.

Hits are a different matter. Long-term payback and hit frequency aren't related. You can have a machine on which they're both high, both low, or mixed. Multi-line machines tend to have high hit frequencies because they can pay back less than a push; for example, you can wager a total of five coins, one per line, and get paid a total of two coins.

No denomination is better than any other for hits. (I had a series of tips about identifying low hit frequency machines a few months back. Use the Search feature and search for "low hit frequency".) I think that dollar machines give you the best tradeoff between risk and long-term payback. Higher denomination machines may have slightly higher long-term paybacks, but the increase in payback isn't enough to warrant the additional risk.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John

Dear Slot Expert:

Is there any way to tell when a slot machine is going to pay off? In other words, is there any sign as to whether to stay on one and play or to walk away?

Thanks,
Laura

Dear Laura:

Unfortunately there is no way to tell when a slot machine is going to pay off.

The result of each spin is determined by the Random Number Generator (RNG) in the computer program running the slot machine. The result of one spin has nothing to do with the results of any of the following spins. So you can't tell that a machine is going to pay off based on how the spins have been running.

And the RNG isn't affected by any outside characteristic, such as the temperature of the machine, how long it's been between players, whether your drop in coins or play off credits, and whether you pull the handle or press the Spin button.

In short, it's all random and there is no way to know whether the next spin will be a bust or Megabucks.

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
The Video Poker 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