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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert

29 June 2003

Knowing how an RNG (random nuumber generator) works (I was a computer programmer on IBM mainframe for 30 years), I wonder how stopping the spin or freezing it affects the 'predetermined' selection of the RNG... or does it?

Thank you,
Charles

Dear Charles,

Stopping the spin has no effect on the outcome of a spin. The only thing it does it cut out the "show" of the reels spinning. The outcome would be the same if you let the reels spin.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi John,

Just one more question on the topic of paybacks for (Ontario) casinos.

First of all thank you for recommending ORDER PO-1745. It was most interresting and informative... WOW...

The first question that came up reading the order was do they include comps in their stated payback totals? I just thought that it would be just like them to include comps and cashback in the paybacks. Makes it an even worse deal for the poor unsuspecting player.

OLGC has a monopoly and they sure know it. We love to play slots but it seems unless you win a reasonably big pot, you don't win anything (little play time for your dollar). This seems to be the norm in Ontario more than in Michigan, where we do quite a bit of playing also. I guess the gaming commission has a better guideline there.

Thanks again for the great reading,
Stu

Dear Stu,

I have to admit that I only skimmed over this material, but I didn't find anything that would lead me to believe that they're including comps and cashback in the payback totals.

Comps and cashback are usually charged against a marketing budget. In addition, the "official" definition of payback is how much a machine returns to its players based on the distribution of symbols on its reels. It would be very confusing for them to add in comps and cashback and call that sum "payback."

Even if they did include cashback and comps, it would raise the "payback" by only a percentage point or so. Cashback rates are rarely above one-half a percentage point and comp rates might be a bit higher.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi John,

Here's a strategy I use when playing Winning Bid.

When I get a bonus round, if the bonus pay is real low, I pick the same item and person on the next bonus round and most of the time it's higher. Sometimes it's the same low pay, but never the third time.

I noticed this too. Sometimes the Winning Bid machines are dead at 9 quarters, 1 per line but at 18, 27, 36 seem to hit. But the opposite is also true. It seems players just keep hitting the spin button over and over and watching their credits go down the drain with hardly any hits.

When this starts to happen to me, I change the bet to either double up the credits and sometimes even reduce the pay lines to cover only 5 or 7 lines at 1 quarter per. It seems these machines get into a funk and just absorb credits.

Hey, how come nothing is ever written about ten-cent machines, only 5 cent?

Jim

Dear Jim,

That's an interesting strategy, but it's still no better than making your choices at random.

Let's say you have only three choices. One of them will have to have the lowest amount. If the amounts are assigned at random (which they are), each item has a 1/3 chance of having the lowest amount. Say you pick the antique vase and get a low bonus.

On the next bonus round, the vase still has a 1/3 chance of having the lowest amount. It's true that only 1 time out of 9 will it have the lowest amount twice in a row, but that doesn't change the fact that is still has a 1/3 chance of having the lowest amount right now in this round.

It doesn't matter what you pick in the bonus round. Different choices may give you different amounts on any individual bonus round, but in the long run, you'll win the same average amount during the bonus whether you use a strategy or choose at random.

It's true that machines have hot and cold spells, but it's all just a result of the fact that the outcome of each spin is determined at random without any regard for what has happened in the past.

The proof that this is the case is in your e-mail. First, you say that the Winning Bid machines are dead when you play one coin per line, but hit when you play two or more. And then you say that sometimes the opposite is true.

When you have two contradictory statements like these, that's a good clue that you're really dealing with random events. If sometimes a machine hits with one coin per line and sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it hits with two coins per line and sometimes it doesn't, that sounds a lot like the number of coins you play doesn't have anything to do with whether or not a machine hits.

I suspect the reason not much is written about dime machines is because there aren't that many of them out there. Also, all the machines operate the same way regardless of denomination.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear Slot Expert,

Harrah's Casino in Tunica has five One Hundred Game Video Poker machines that require a minimum of one cent for one game to a maximum of ten cents for one hundred games. The player can play twenty-five games, fifty games, or seventy-five games also in one cent, two cents, five cents, in addition to the ten cent maximum.

Here's my question: If one cannot afford a ten dollar bet but limits herself to one dollar bets or less, what would be the best to play?

TIA,
Reba

Dear Reba,

We have to be careful with these machines that require 10 coins to get the royal flush bonus. The long-term payback on such a machine is not the same as when the machine requires only five coins for the bonus. It's less.

You'd have to send me the paytable so I can do the calculations to tell you the best way to bet, but here's the way I think I'd play. I'd play as many hands as possible at full coin. So, at $1 per round, that would be 10 hands at 10 coins.

Your other option is to play 100 hands at one cent each. You'll be playing at a slightly lower payback than when you play full coin, but you'll experience smaller swings in your bankroll since your risk is spread out over many more hands.

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