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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert: Are slot machines random?

30 June 2012

Hi John:

I love your column! You've been so informative for my slot gaming and I appreciate all the advice you've given along with in-depth explanations and information.

I have two questions regarding slots. My first question concerns the RNG. I was watching "Cheaters Exposed in Las Vegas" on TV today and one story was about a highly respected man who worked for the Nevada Gaming Commission examining new slot machines (making sure they were "cheat proof"). He was so good at his job that he found a weakness in the programming and he took advantage of it. At the end of his story, he looked right into the camera and said "There is no such thing as RNG, a computer could never randomly pick combinations." I'd love to hear your take on this.

My second question: Last week I was in Biloxi, MS playing a 25c machine, 3 coin in on a Triple Gold. I hit the spin button 505 times without ever hitting any 7s, whether they be triples, straight color, or mixed, nor did I hit any 5 Bars or Straight Bars. With that said, 99 percent of every machine I played (and my husband) that required 7s to make any kind of hit did NOT hit, and that was playing $1, 50c and 25c machines with the max coin in. We played for 2-1/2 days without any luck.

I look forward to hearing your response/advice on my two questions.

Best regards,
Wanda

Dear Wanda,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

The fellow in the television show is Ron Harris, who worked for the Nevada Gaming Commission before getting caught cheating slot machines and keno drawings. He's absolutely right that slot machines do not have true random number generators. Slot machines really have pseudo-random number generators (pRNG). A pRNG generates a number stream that appears to be random and satisfies many properties of randomness, but is actually generated by a deterministic function and is not truly random. Ron was right. Strictly speaking, the results on a slot machine are not truly random.

Turning to your second question, it happens. Sometimes we hit a run of bad luck. It doesn't mean that anything is wrong with or has been done to the machines.

Hope you have better luck in the future,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

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