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Best of John Robison

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Ask The Slot Expert

29 May 2003

Hi!!

My name is Hector and I have been playing in a Tucson, AZ casino and I love the Yukon Gold slot, but every time I'm playing 3 per line and/or I hit 4 squares of the Yukon Gold (this has happened like 5 or 6 times) I have not been able to make any matching in the squares. Why?

Dear Hector,

I'm sorry to hear that you haven't been able to match any squares on Yukon Gold. The tiles are placed at random in the bonus round and you've just been unlucky in picking them.

I'm sure that if you continue to play this machine you'll have better luck in the future.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John

Dear Mr. Robison,

Thank You for your Midwest Gaming & Travel responses to my email questions, in both the March & April issues.

I have only been playing VP for a couple of years, prior to that I was a table player, BJ was my game. It took me several years, and too much money, to finally realize that I didn't have a sufficient bankroll for making necessary bet variances or the mental retention necessary for card counting. For the past couple of years playing VP at the 25 cent level has been something profitable for me. I am a senior, retired, and live in the Midwest. A nearby riverboat has eleven 10/7 (100.17%) DB VP machines. I play them a lot. I also visit Vegas 3-4 times a year now, spending most of my time playing 10/7 DB machines at such places as Arizona Charlie's, Station Properties, Fiesta properties, and others.

Earlier this month, to my disappointment, I found that all of these properties had removed many of their 10/7 DB machines and other "full pay" machines. Another of my favorite VP games is "Full Pay" Joker Wild, 100.64% payback with the $4700 Royal. When I was at Charlie's last summer, they had ELEVEN of them, in March of this year I found that NINE of them had been removed. TWELVE of their 10/7 5-way progressives had been converted to 9/6 5-way progressives. I know you can do the math on what a difference this makes.

In your March column, last paragraph, you state. "Casinos do make a profit on positive expectation machines." In your April column, next to last paragraph, you state: "the reason we see so few positive expectation machines in casinos is because slot directors are afraid of losing money on them.... And slot directors do lose money when they put only a few on their slot floors." Then why are the number of them being decreased rather then increased?

My point is that "Full Pay, Positive Expectation" VP machines are hard to find, and will become harder to find as the number of them are reduced, BECAUSE, I think that casinos do not profit from them.

I am looking forward to your May Column where you intend to address RNGs. I think that Random Number Generators are "Random" only within the machines "program."

Thanks again for your response, Mr. Robison.

Sincerely,
ILGambler


As I said in the article, whether or not a casino makes money on positive expectation video poker depends upon whether or not the casino has enough machines to have a mix of knowledgeable and hunch players. If a casino has too few machines, knowledgeable players will monopolize them and the casino will lose money on them. If a casino has enough machines, they'll win enough from the hunch players to more than offset the amount the knowledgeable players win.

Let's say a casino does have enough positive expectation machines to make a profit from them. Why might they remove some of them? It's entirely possible that the casino has made a decision to lower the paybacks on its slot floor. It can't lower its overall payback by increasing the number of high-paying paytables because even hunch players will tend to win more on high-paying paytables. The casino's only choices are to downgrade some of its okay machines to mediocre or some of its positive-expectation machines to negative expectation.

Most casinos seem to be downgrading the positive-expectation machines. This action starts the self-fulfilling prophecy I wrote about. The remaining positive machines are monopolized by the knowledgeable players and they no longer show a profit. The next step is to remove all of them, unless the casino decides to keep a few just to be able to say they have them.

In any case, good machines come and go in casinos. Casinos that long had high-paying machines downgrade their inventories, and other casinos that had nothing playable put in high-paying machines. One of the lessons I learned from Bob Dancer, Jean Scott, and other positive-expectation players, is that you have to be flexible if you want to play only positive-expectation machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John

John,

Is it still 25 cents per dollar that goes into the Megabucks Jackpot? I know it was when I first started playing in the '80s? If not, what is it now?

Thanks,
John

Dear John,

Twenty-five cents per dollar is too high. My understanding is that the contribution to the jackpot is about 8% of each dollar played. That would be about 25 cents for each three dollars played, not for each dollar.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


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

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