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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: A different RNG for bonus rounds on a slot machine?

10 February 2016

Question: Love your column. I have learned so much about slot play that has helped my bankroll.

Further to your answer regarding bonus rounds in Casino City Times on 2/13/16, is the PRNG that runs all the time when playing normally used for the bonus round? Or is there a different one for bonuses?

Answer: Thanks for the kind words about my column.

The same PRNG (pseudo-random number generator) function is used whenever the program running the machine needs to determine an outcome. The PRNG function just generates a stream of (pseudo-)random numbers. It's up to the program to do something useful with the numbers. It could use them to pick which cards will be dealt during a hand of video poker. It could use them to determine where reels will stop. It could use them to determine where the Wheel of Fortune will stop. It could use them to determine which bonus game you will play. It could use them to assign bonus amounts to fish, cars, gift boxes, whatever.

Because the PRNG function just generates numbers (and not symbols or cards or something concrete), the stream of numbers from one function can be used for many different purposes.


Question: One additional reason to short-circuit the award process (and I do this regularly on major video poker hits) is to not "advertise" to anyone else that you have just obtained a fair amount of money. What I win is no one else's business, especially since you never know who is nearby and then watches you cash out and maybe follows you once you've pocketed your winnings. Allowing the bells and whistles of a Royal Flush to drone on can be more harmful than just its annoying music.

Answer: That's a good point. I just short-circuited a few awards this past weekend for the exact reason you described.

I usually avoid video poker gimmicks (e.g., Dream Card, Split Card, etc.) like the plague. The extra bet you have to make to enable the gimmick is just money down the drain until the gimmick pays off. It seems like most of the time the extra money you win from the gimmick doesn't cover the extra bets you've made. Furthermore, these gimmicks increase volatility.

I usually avoid those games, but I do like to play them for low (penny or nickel) stakes once in a while. And one gimmick that isn't too bad is Super Pay. At least I think that's what it's called. You make an extra credit bet to enable larger payouts on four-of-a-kinds. This gimmick isn't bad because you have to bet only one additional credit, not double the max bet on a hand. I've only seen this gimmick on multi-hand machines.

I was playing nickel, three-play Super Pay Bonus Poker last Saturday. I hit four twos, which takes long enough to award that it draws attention. A man who was playing a few machines down from me asked me what I hit.

Now, there's was nothing besides curiosity in his question. Nothing nefarious. It was nickels, after all, so my good fortune amounted to a couple of sawbucks. Still, rather than call attention to myself when I hit quads again a few times, I cut short the awarding process.

There's no way to avoid advertising your good fortune when you hit a hand pay, although on some machines hitting a key will silence the music. Of course, hitting a key won't unlock the machine.

A few days ago I was playing a triple play machine in a high-limit room. A couple of times while I was playing, I heard the annoying music of an IGT video poker machine waiting for a hand pay -- and tax form. The music was playing again when I was leaving, so I investigated. A man was playing $5 video poker. I didn't get close enough to see what paytable he was playing or what hand he hit, but at $25 a hand on a bonus paytable, you'll get a tax form for many quads.


Question:Question: My wife just had a similar experience as you did with the Buffalo machines where you won almost 200 spins and over $200. She was playing Lion Festival at Mountaineer Casino. She got the bonus and received 150+ free spins. She had to call me over to watch her machine as she kept getting more free spins. I believe she received over 700 free spins on the penny machine. She was playing 60 cents. It took close to 1-1/2 hours to complete the free spin round and she cashed out $400!!

Answer: I wonder how many people had the same reaction I had -- over 700 spins and she won only $400!

At the end of my free-spin marathon, one of the spectators asked me how much I won. After I said it was only $200, a lady who had been watching the spectacle said, "On a 50-cent bet. That's pretty good."

Congratulations to your wife on her good fortune. On a 60-cent bet, winning $400 is pretty good.


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