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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: A bizarre video poker experience

8 January 2014

I play at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, MO. I like to play Double-Double video poker and have read many of your articles. They have helped a lot. I had what can only be described as a bizarre experience recently.

The casino has several 9-5 games and only a few 9-6 games (and many more much worse!). I could not get on a 9-6 game, so I played one of the 9-5 machines. I was getting beaten up by the machine, so I went to check on the 9-6 games. A seat had opened up. So I sat down.

The first hand was the exact same cards (same suit and order) as I had on one of the last hands at the 9-5 machine. I thought that was weird. I played the hand the same way (I only had a jack to keep) and drew the exact same four cards (same suit and order again) as on the other machine! I thought, "What are the odds?" I played the next hand and it was the exact same cards as the next hand on the 9-5 game (same suit and order again). Now, I thought this was really weird! I played the hand the same way (I only had a queen to keep). In my head I called out the four cards I would get and their order. That is exactly what I got. I likened the odds of that happening as being about the same as winning the PowerBall!

I mentioned this to the people sitting next to me. I only played the next hand because I knew it was a push. I called out the hand dealt with the exact card and order of the cards. The people were amazed. I had a pair of queens and called out the exact cards (suit and order) I would get back. I told the other people the next four hands would be losers, so I got up and left the machine. The other two people also got up and left, because something is wrong. That should not be possible.

I do not know if I want to go back and play at that casino. It seems like these must be the bingo type machines, which I thought were only legal at Indian casinos. Can you tell me how this could happen? Is the casino giving us seemingly good machines (9-6 and 9-5) to play, then changing the rules by making the machine second class? These are IGT machines. You have said that the cards are supposed to reshuffle every time and keep shuffling in between discard and draw. The time it took me to play each hand varied a lot on the 9-6 machine, compared to the 9-5 machine. Something seems fishy.

Thanks for the kind words about my articles.

I checked on the IGT site and I couldn't find any Class II video poker machines on it, so these should be Class III machines. If these were Class II machines, then there would also be some way to see the underlying bingo card that is truly determining your results. Class II slot machines are not really second-class machines, but Class II video poker machines are. Strategy is useless on a Class II video poker machine because the result of each hand has already been determined by the bingo drawing.

Even if these were Class II machines, that would not explain how one machine could be a few hands out of sync with another.

I have a great deal of skepticism about your story. When I play video poker, I usually can't remember the prior hand once a new one is dealt unless the prior hand was something special. I remember that the last time I played, for example, I got four aces and a deuce, but that was significant only because I wasn't playing a paytable that would have paid a bonus for the kicker. In any case, I don't remember the suit of the deuce. I got another quad in that same session, but I don't remember the rank. I remember the second quad because I had a coupon to get a $25 bonus on it.

I don't have a photographic memory, but unless you do, I have a hard time believing that you recalled so much detail about the hands you played.

What you described should be impossible. It has been decades since computer-controlled machines started continuously running their RNGs and a decade or more since video poker machines started selecting only five cards on the deal and continuing to shuffle in between the deal and the draw.

John


I recently acquired a 1994 G-tech VLT-2 multi-game of chance machine. It's giving a 300 error saying program validation error. Do you think this machine is outdated since you said answering another question that it goes through a central server? I would really appreciate your input on this matter.

I hope you can get your money back. VLTs (video lottery terminals) require a central server to determine the results of their spins. The machine is useless without the server.

John


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