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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: A warning about the Bet One button on a video poker machine

14 August 2019

In past columns we've talked about hitting the Deal button versus hitting the Bet Max button while playing video poker. We've rarely mentioned the Bet One button, though. Players have to ensure that they know how much will be bet when they hit the Bet Max button, but surely nothing can go wrong using the Bet One button.

Today I have a warning about using the Bet One button for people who don't usually use it based on an experience I had a few days ago.

I sat down to play the rightmost machine in a bank of four. The man playing the leftmost machine said that there was a problem on that machine. He said that he had a slot technician try to fix it, but she couldn't.

The machine's candle was flashing. I saw that there was a "Closure M" error displayed on the screen. In my experience, this error always clears after a hand is played on the machine. I said that I would give the machine a try anyway.

I put my players card in the card reader slot and a ticket into the bill reader. As I reached for the Bet Max button I noticed that it was not lit. I double-checked that my ticket was accepted and I had credits on the machine.

At this point I had a flashback of a mildly embarrassing moment at another video poker machine. After putting in my money, I noticed that none of the buttons were lit. The entire button deck was dead.

I tackled a slot floorperson as he walked by. I told him that the buttons didn't work and I didn't know how to get my money out of the machine.

He reminded me that anything you can do with the buttons, you can also do by touching the screen. There's a Cash Out button on the screen. D'oh!

Back to my disabled Bet Max button. No problem, I thought. I can use the Bet Max soft button on the screen. I only need to hit Bet Max once. I use Deal/Draw during normal play so I wouldn't be slowed down by having to touch the screen for each hand.

The box for the Bet Max button was there on the screen, but there was no text in it. I touched it anyway, but nothing happened.

Many aspects of a video poker machine can be configured by the casino. Volume level, that's an option. Player adjustable volume, also an option. Dealing speed and player adjustable dealing speed can also be set or enabled by the casino. You want the machine to display the type of hand above the cards when there is a paying hand displayed on the screen — the casino can turn that on and off. Maybe the Bet Max button can also be disabled by the casino, though I don't see why it would want to do that on anything but one of those machines where a max bet is closer to a mortgage payment than a typical video poker bet.

Okay, so Bet Max was out. I'll just have to use the Bet One button. I hit it five times, hit Deal/Draw, and looked at the screen and saw "Game Over."

The man asked me if the machine was working. I told him that I was able to get a hand, but maybe the machine was in the middle of a hand when the tech rebooted it because I didn't have a chance to hold cards after hitting the Deal button.

Now I could place a max bet using Deal/Draw so I continued playing. A little while later I realized that my machine-in-middle-of-hand theory was impossible because the machine would not have let me use the Bet One button if it was in the middle of a hand.

I eventually realized that the only theory that made sense was that the machine automatically dealt the hand after I hit the Bet One button the fifth time. I tested my theory on the next hand. Sure enough, the machine automatically dealt the cards after I maxed out the bet.

I don't think I've ever used multiple presses of Bet One to achieve a max bet. It never occurred to me that a machine would deal a hand without my having pressed Deal/Draw. I checked a number of "How to Play Video Poker" sites. Some of them say the machine will deal the hand automatically at the max bet. Others say you have to hit Deal/Draw. Maybe that's a configurable option too.

If you ever have to use the Bet One button, just be more attentive than I was. You don't want to miss out on a good hand.

I have to admit that I'm a bit concerned about what hand I missed when I hit Deal/Draw thinking it would cause the machine to deal and not to draw — especially since the same machine dealt me four deuces later that session — but I'm comforted by the fact that the machine would have locked up if it had dealt me a royal.

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