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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Adding symbols in a bonus round

8 March 2017

Question: I have a question about the Zeus slot machine. When you hit the free game bonus, there are two additional features with the free games. One is a symbol that awards one additional free game every time it appears on the screen.

The other is the one I'm questioning. If any red-colored Zeuses appear on the far right column of the game, it "adds additional Zeuses to the reels," as they describe it. If the bonus reel RNG has been activated at the beginning of the free games, how can the computer program "add" additional stops and symbols to the previously programmed random numbers it is generating? This feature supposedly gives you more chances to win because Zeus is the top symbol on the game. Every time you hit another Zeus to be added to the reels, it looks like to me the program would have to be adjusted to have the chance for "numbers" matching those additional symbols to appear on the screen.

Answer: Keep in mind that the only things that an RNG generates are numbers, like 9 and 2,345,826. It doesn't generate stops or symbols or cards. The numbers generated by the RNG can be used to select stops and symbols and cards, but the RNG doesn't generate them directly. It's up to the program running the slot machine to do something useful and interesting with the numbers from the RNG.

I think the description that the Zeus symbols are added to the reels is true, but not complete. I think that the symbols aren't merely added to the reels, they replace other symbols on the reels. The help screens may specify how the additional Zeus symbols are handled.

There is a Zeus machine right by the bank of NSUD video poker machines I play at one casino. I've seen people hit the bonus round often on that machine, so I had to give it a try myself. I don't recall there being a red Zeus feature in the bonus round on that machine, but I don't remember for sure. There are a couple different Zeus variations available. I'll check the help screens on some Zeus machines to see if I can get any more information.

In any case, your question was about how the RNG has to change to handle the additional Zeus symbols. It doesn't. It just keeps generating numbers, completely unaware of how they're being used. The program running the game has to deal with the extra Zeuses.


Question: I have been playing bingo for several years. I recently changed from playing when there was a lot of people playing to times the hall had the least amount of people. My winnings have increased.

With that being said, since Class II slot machines work off the bingo format, will my odds at winning be increased if I played when the casino had the least amount of people playing?

Answer: I really dislike Class II gaming. RNG-based slots are so simple compared with Class II machines.

To paraphrase my sixth-grade math teacher, Class II games and traditional bingo are exactly the same, only different.

In a bingo hall, they keep drawing numbers until one or more players achieve the game-ending pattern. The fewer players competing, the better your chances.

According to the Wizard of Odds, the game-ending patterns on a Class II machine can be very difficult to achieve, so "the element of competition is negligible." The drawing stops whena player achieves the game-ending patterm or a certain number of balls are drawn. Players are paid according to the highest-paying pattern they covered on their electronic bingo cards.

There are other ways to implement Class II machines. The bottom line is that Class machines are based on, but not identical to, traditional bingo.


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