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Ask the Slot Expert: Buffalo Diamond machine atones for low-paying bonus round

17 July 2019

Last week we talked about how frustrating it is to finally get to the bonus round on a game and then win a paltry sum from it. This past weekend I was at the Suncoast to use a coupon for a free entree at its Chinese restaurant and to play the kiosk game. I got there about 20 minutes before the Chinese restaurant opened, so I looked for a slot machine near the restaurant to play to earn the points needed to activate the kiosk game.

I was never a fan of the Buffalo games — even though I did get over 200 free games on one once — but I decided to give the Buffalos another try after seeing players win free spins (and good money) frequently on the three Buffalo Gold Collection machines perpendicular to one of the banks of video poker machines I like to play at Red Rock. I won about $100 on a minimum bet on the free spins on a Buffalo Gold last Wednesday, so I decided to try a Buffalo Diamond machine not far from the restaurant while waiting for it to open.

The first two times I got the bonus, the big wheel didn't stop on one of the multipliers. I did okay on the spins, but nothing to write home about. I won the bonus again on the next-to-last spin before I had enough points for the kiosk game. The wheel stopped on eight free games. I could have won more free spins, but I'll take them.

First spin, nothing. Second spin, nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Pocket change. Nothing . . . I won only a couple of bucks on those spins. Very disappointing. This machine could use a bonus round consolation prize.

Well, one more spin and then its dinnertime.

I won the bonus again. The wheel looked like it was going to stop on eight again, but it kept going and stopped on the 3x multiplier, which awarded 23 free games. Now we're talking. How about a hand pay?

Well, the anticipation of a hand pay disappeared quickly after I won little or nothing at all on my first few spins. Hopes for at least a decent payout rebounded when I hit a hot streak in the middle and even won five more free games. The machine cooled off at the end of my free spins, but it still made up for its poor showing on my penultimate set of free spins. I cashed out with a $50 profit and won $5 dining credit in the kiosk game.


Question: I have noticed each time I do very well on a slot machine, the next day, no matter what slot machine I play, I receive no pay back at all. My players card is in the machine. Others around me win, and those I have observed on a machine prior to my playing it. I just blow through some of the earnings from the previous day. This pretty much occurs every single time I do very well.

Sorry if this seems like a naive question, but I often wonder if the casino is fiddling with the machine since it has my players card in it.

What is going on?

Answer: Randomness is what is going on.

You're playing a negative expectation game. The house has an edge against you. You're more likely to have a losing session than a winning session. If you win only, say, 30% of the time, is it really surprising that most of your winning sessions are followed by losing sessions?

Using your players card has no effect on a machine's outcomes. Slot regulations say that a machine must display the results selected by the random number generator (RNG) and that the RNG must be free of any outside influences, such as time of day, day of week, holiday, and use of players card.

If you don't believe that using your players card has no effect, try an experiment. Ideally, we would have a large control group sample where you always played with your card and you noted whether you won or lost on the day after a winning day. Then, for the experimental group, on the day after a winning day you would not use your card after a winning day and you would note whether you won or lost. With a sufficiently large sample, we'd see that your probability of having two winning days in a row is not affected by card use on the second day.

It's not an ideal world, so let's just do the second part. Play with your card because I want you to earn points. Track the number of winning and losing days. If you have a winning day, play without your card the next day.

If you lose, put a mark in the loss column and go back to using your card the next time.

If you win, put a mark in the win column. And now we have a choice. You could follow the rules of the experiment and go back to using your card the next time, or you could double up and try playing without your card again. After all, if the theory is that the machines you play are altered to win back the money you won while using your card, you should be able to win again on the third day because your winnings on the second day were anonymous.

Let's stick with protocol and go back to using your card after a non-card day.

As you gather more and more data, you'll find that the probability of having a losing (or winning) day is the same on both carded and cardless days, showing that using your card has no effect on your results.

I remember the reality check I read in a book about playing video poker. It said that most of your days will be losing days. Sure, you'll have the occasional big win day (when you hit a royal) and some pretty good win days, but you will lost most of the time and some of the losing days will be doozies.


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