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Ask the Slot Expert: Another strange experience with found tickets

24 May 2017

Question: On a recent trip to Gun Lake Casino in Michigan, I found two tickets on the floor. The total was $90+. I went to a cashier window wondering what to do (I did not try to cash the tickets). She tapdanced around the question and said to go to security.

Security said, "Those are not your tickets, give them to me" and "it is fraud for you to keep or cash them."

After giving him the tickets, I asked, "What do you do to find the owner of these tickets?"

The answer was, "We have our ways."

I kind of felt like I had done something wrong. I was just trying to be honest and get the money to the rightful owner.

Answer: I never cease to be amazed at the difference between how mature gaming jurisdictions handle situations and how newer jurisdictions handle those same situations. Michigan's casinos seem to be particularly severe in handling found money — at least in one case. The MotorCity Casino 86ed 72-year-old Stella Romanski for six months. Her crime: Picking up a 5-cent token from a slot machine's tray.

Michigan's slot regulations may prohibit players from using found money or tickets or credits left on a machine. Certainly, many casinos have that policy. The policy though is meant to deter what we used to call silver mining. Silver mining is walking through the casino looking for money left in trays or on machines with no intention to actually play in the casino. Now that there are no more coins in slots, the practice is called "slot-walking" today. Most casinos — at least in mature gaming markets — don't hassle players who came to play and just happen to find and use tickets of trivial value.

Last year I had a ticket for a few dollars and 73 cents. I found a ticket worth 27 cents sitting on a machine. Perfect, I thought. Now I have an even dollar. It was obvious, or at least very likely, that the player didn't think it worth the effort to redeem the ticket. I redeemed it and avoided a pocketful of change.

You did the right thing. The best ways to treat found tickets are to turn them in or to treat them like radioactive waste and keep your distance.

It's a shame that the casino personnel handled your situation so unprofessionally. One would think that the cashier would have been trained on how to handle the situation. The security guard, moreover, could have said that they could check the slot club system to see if a carded player was playing the machines that printed the tickets. Although his statements give the impression that he was going to keep the tickets for himself, casinos dislike employees redeeming found tickets even more than they dislike players using them. Using the tickets for himself would have been grounds for dismissal.


I have another data point for the "How I Hit My Royals" chart. I was expecting my next royal to come from a 3- or 4-card royal. But no. I hit the deal button and a royal in spades appeared on the screen.

Dealt royals are a little — just a very little — disappointing. When a royal is dealt, you miss out on the anticipation of completing a partial royal. I'll take a dealt royal every day, don't get me wrong, I just miss the anticipation a teeny, tiny bit.

The odds of being dealt a royal flush are 1 in 649,740. I've been dealt three royals in the past 15 months. I play frequently, but not constantly. There's no way I've played over 1.8 million hands as expected from the math.

Speaking with other video poker players last week, some of us seemed to get dealt royals more frequently than the math predicts and others less frequently. One regular player said she hadn't been dealt a royal in about 10 years.

I'm sure you already know what I said. "It's all random."


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