CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Ask the Slot Expert: Another way to check free play left on a slot machine

20 June 2018

Question: I'm tired of all the grief that smokers receive.

I smoke and I try to be courteous to others. What is aggravating is when I am already smoking and someone sits down next to me or close and then starts fake coughing and waving their hands or the people that remove all the ashtrays in a smoking area. If I sit down next to someone, I wait to see if they smoke or if I want to smoke I'll ask if they mind if I smoke. If they say yes, I move or wait to have a cigarette.

I'm sick of being treated as a second-hand citizen.

I don't drink so should I ask that all drinkers be removed from the casino if they're being obnoxious. Their bad breath makes me nauseous. I've had to move from a good machine many times because of someone who has had too much to drink.

The casinos that we frequent, we only go to Las Vegas or Laughlin, have put in better air filtration systems but no one talks about that.

Answer: You are the most courteous smoker I've met. I've never had anyone ask me if I minded if they smoked--

Well, I have to take that back. Going down in the elevator at the Westgate parking garage, the doors opened and two twenty-something guys with lit cigarettes asked if I minded if they brought their cigarettes onto the elevator. I said I did and they waited for the next elevator.

I agree with you that people who sit down next to someone smoking have no right to fake cough or wave their hands. (Maybe it's not a fake cough.) They knew what they were getting into and if the smoke bothers them, then they should have gone somewhere else. And if those are the only machines of that type in the casino -- a problem I'm running into more frequently now as some casinos are cutting back on their good video poker -- either deal with it, wait for the smokers to leave or come back another time.

I don't doubt that you feel like a second-hand citizen. You were used by the tobacco companies, which genetically engineered tobacco crops to increase the amount of nicotine and put chemicals in the cigarettes to make the smoke enter your lungs more easily, make the smoke less harsh, and make the nicotine travel to the brain faster. These facts were all revealed in internal documents released as part of the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.

Your argument about drinkers doesn't stand up to scrutiny. I've seen many obnoxious people -- drunk or not -- removed from the casino floor when they were making a scene or bothering other people. A drunk's bad breath may make you temporarily nauseated, but secondhand smoke can make others permanently sick.

Now let's talk about the air filtration systems that no one talks about. Depending on the type of system, they might be useful on a macro level, but totally useless on a micro level.

Air filtration, scrubbing the air when it is returned to the air handler, may work to decrease the ambient level of smoke in the casino (though some studies show that the air in the casino is still many times dirtier than the air outside it). But the mass scrubbing does nothing to alleviate the smoke wafting over to me from the person on the other side of the bank, the smoke from the person walking by with a lit cigarette, or the smoke being carried by the airflow from the ventilation system from the player across the aisle to me more than 10 feet away. And these systems don't help at all when a cigar smoker pollutes a section of the casino making aisle after aisle of machines unplayable by non-smokers -- and many smokers!

What's needed on the micro level is an air curtain or air shower in reverse that carries the smoke up and away from the players. Here's an excerpt from Discarding lingering smoke a smell a challenge for casinos in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Mary Hynes, director of corporate communications at MGM Resorts International, said slot machine bases, table games and lobby benches serve as air-handling units that cool a building from the floor up.

The process pushes air up and away from dealers and players, she said.

"You can see people smoking and not smell smoke," Hynes said.

Finally, as for the grief you get, it's not going to get any better. As smoking rates continue to decrease and more and more public places ban smoking, smoking becomes less and less socially acceptable.

Remember the 1981 Dudley Moore movie Arthur about a lovable drunk? Can't make that movie today.


Question: Another way to see how much free play you have left is to hit the Cash Out button. It will cash out your winnings but leave the remaining free play on the meter. Also a good way to maximize your savings from the free play by removing all your winnings.

Answer: Last week a reader asked about the time I won $1000 free slot play in a slot tournament and how I knew when I had played it through. The slot club reader displays at the casino at which I won the free play display how much free play you have remaining, so it was easy for me to know when I was done with the free play. At another chain, free play is a little like match play. After a spin or hand, the system deducts the amount of your bet from your free play and adds it to your credit meter. You know you've played all your free play when you don't get a matching award after a play. Depending on which casino in the chain you're at, your free play remaining is also shown on the card reader display or at the bottom of the screen on a video machine. And on video machines, you can always call up the slot club panel to display your free play remaining.

At yet another casino, there's no display that shows how much free play you have left. Free play does not earn club points at this casino, so one way to know when you've played through your free play is by noticing when you start earning points again. The problem with this method, though, is that it is impossible to stop exactly when you've exhausted your free play.

Another way to track free play remaining, as you point out, is to periodically cash out. Anything you've won from your free play will be deducted from your credit meter and printed on the ticket. Your free play, which are non-cashable credits in industry lingo, will remain on your meter. This method works well for small amounts of free play, but if you have a large amount you can end up with a stack of tickets for relatively small amounts -- what we call "toll money" in New Jersey.

I saw two guys using your system at this casino once. They were playing at a machine across the aisle from me. They caught my attention because every minute or so I could hear the cash out sounds from the machine, yet they continued playing after they cashed out without putting more money in the machine. (I've seen people periodically cash out just to put the ticket back in the same machine. I've been tempted to ask them what they think they're proving by doing this. It will never make any sense to me. I once saw a lady who almost gave some logic to this tactic. She had a few tickets, so after she cashed out she put in one of her other tickets. I guess in an attempt to make the machine think it had a new player. You'd think she'd realize that using her slot club card would defeat this ploy, though.)

These guys continued their cash-out-and-play routine for a few minutes. I finally spoke with one of the slot floorpeople and told her that something didn't look right with those two.

She said, "Oh, they're regulars. They have some sort of system." I realize now that the only way to do what they were doing was to download their free play and periodically cash out the winnings.

The time I won the free play was the only time that I stopped playing when I ran out of free play -- one, because I wanted to know how much real money I was able to turn it into and two, because the real money I won was what I reported to the IRS as my winnings from the tournament. My usual amount of free play is less than $100 and I always play more than the free play, so I don't care when I've played through it. But I am frequently discouraged by how little I win from the free play.


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, a video poker player found a new way to annoy the players near her -- well, me. Joining the guy who makes a sweeping arc from the Hold buttons to the Deal/Draw button, the lady who plays Whac-A-Mole on the Deal/Draw button, and the guy who hits the Max Bet button like he's in a slot tournament to start each hand, we have --

The lady who tapped her fingernails against the button deck while she decides which cards to hold. We were playing slant-top machines, so there was a nice wide band of metal between the cushion and the buttons that she could drum on, finger after finger, starting with pinky and ending with index, and repeating as many times as necessary. It sounded like my grandmother's chihuahua scampering across the linoleum in her kitchen.

After a few minutes of this, her husband, who was playing next to her, whispered something to her and she stopped doing it.

I don't know if my stopping playing and watching her drum had any effect.


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