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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert: Can casinos change the way slot games play?

3 October 2012

Dear John,

Love your articles!

My question is: Are casinos allowed to make changes in the way games play?

I have been playing Three Kings slot machines and have done well on them, however just recently the casinos in Arizona seem to have changed the way they play. And it's obvious too.

Before, whenever you were to go into a bonus, the third king would spin slowly to give you that excitement of maybe getting into the bonus, but NOW it no longer does the slow spin, it just stops with no spin all.

Thank you.

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

Casinos do have the ability to configure some aspects of how their machines perform. For example, the casino can set the volume level on a machine. They can sometimes set how quickly a video poker machine deals its cards, or set the machine so the player can set the speed. Note that none of these settings affect a machine's long-term payback, just some aspects of how the machine plays.

It's possible that the casino has some control over how quickly the third king stops. By making it stop more quickly, the casino can get more spins per hour on the machine.

Jackpots for all,
John


Dear John,

My wife and I enjoy what we call machine hopping. We get bored playing one machine. We play $.25 to $5 and have done quite well -- two $5 slots hit for over $25,000, both on the first spin. I am well aware that was pure luck.

What puzzled us at first was, even on busy days, certain machines were not being played. I am sure they probably hit sometime. After talking to other players and from our play, we soon realized the problem is many machines will not hit a symbol on the first reel even after six to eight spins. What a turn off!

Are casinos not smart enough to to realize players will walk away from these machines? Our two favorites are Blazing 7s and Triple Stars. Both have low symbol counts -- but that is a topic for another day.

Long time fan. Always look forward to your helpful advice.

Paul

Dear Paul,

Congratulations on your jackpots.

Most first virtual reels are set up to have more symbols than blanks. Casinos know that players know that when a blank lands on the payline on the first reel, the game is over -- unless the machine pays for three blanks. When a symbol lands on the first reel, on the other hand, there are possibilities and players can root for a winning combination. As a result, more on-the-payline near misses have a blank on the third reel than on either of the first two reels.

That said, we have to remember that the results of a spin are chosen at random. Even when it's more likely to have a symbol land on the payline than a blank, it's possible to have many spins in a row that land a blank.

Jackpots for all,
John


Hi John,

Hopefully you can answer this before my cruise in October.

I am wondering how the payouts are on cruise ships that have casinos? I am going on a Carnival cruise. Are they at all regulated or can they have whatever percentages they want?

Thanks,
Colleen

Dear Colleen,

Cruise ships operate in international waters, so they are not subject to any regulations.

How are the paybacks? Lousy. If you don't like how well the machines are paying, where are you going to go? There's no casino down the street that might have better-paying machines.

The paybacks will probably be among the lowest available for the games. You might be better off throwing your money overboard and collecting what washes up on shore.

Best of luck on your cruise,
John

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