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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Casino loosens slots for certain players?

23 November 2016

Question: As always, enjoy your articles and expert insights, but I'm gonna complain here a bit.

My son gets me a subscription to Casino Player magazine every Christmas. I am getting the issues a month late. I get October issue in November, for example, so any offers, shows, etc., are over by the time I get the magazine. I e-mailed three different departments, (including vogel) NO response. Needless to say, I'd rather have coal in my stocking.

Golden Nugget -- In the best gaming awards edition of casino player the Nugget was voted #1 for video poker. Don't know what the criteria are, but I can tell you it's tough to find 9/6 Jacks or Better, though they have a few. All the $5 ($25 a hand) machines in the high limit area are 8/5. Cannot use free play on any 9/6 machine — c'mon — and as far as comps/tier earned, almost nonexistent. So how are they voted #1? Maybe machine selection, but certainly not for offering a fair game. No problem here; I just play elsewhere.

Just thought your readers might want to know.

Thanks for all wonderful articles.

Answer: Thanks for the kind words.

I have no connection with Casino Player magazine, so you'll have to keep after them to get your issues in a timely fashion. I'm really surprised that they haven't responded to your e-mails. Keep e-mailing them until they do reply and check you have the correct e-mail addresses. And check that your address is correct on the label.

Checking vpFree2 I see that the best games the Golden Nugget has today are 9/5 Jacks and 8/6 Jacks. One would think that a downtown casino would have better video poker. In any case, you have the solution — play elsewhere.

Ten+ years ago, it used to be easy to find 9/6 Jacks. I'm pretty sure the Golden Nugget had them when Frank Scoblete did a gambler's jamboree there in the late 1990s. It was a Steve Wynn property then.

Speaking of Steve Wynn, Treasure Island used to have many 9/6 machines. There was never any good video poker at The Mirage and you needed to bet over $1 to get 9/6 Jacks at Bellagio, but Caesars Palace, right in between the two Wynn hotels, had plenty of 9/6 Jacks machines mixed in with their 8/5 machines. Many times I'd see someone playing an 8/5 machine when there was a 9/6 machine right next to it.

You have to take the Casino Player awards with a grain of salt. The people who respond self select, so it's not a random sample. In the past, furthermore, people have pointed out that the casinos with the highest rankings are the casinos that put Casino Player in their hotel rooms.

But again, you'll have to take up the Nugget's top ranking with the Casino Player editors.


Question: Although you sound very informed about the inner workings of casinos and slot machines, I've recently come to believe that you may be wrong about casinos not having the ability to tweak the odds of winning on a particular slot machine when a players card is inserted.

I've come to learn that you just can't beat the casinos, they have it all figured out. I've played for years and have made lots of contacts inside a certain casino in Florida, which I'm not going to mention by name YET. But over the years playing there, the most alarming piece of information I've learned was when I befriended an older woman playing slots beside me. That woman had a son that presently worked upstairs in the very casino we were playing.

The woman finally confided in me one day while playing beside each day for years. For which I had always been amazed how lucky the woman was . . . just figured she was just luckier than others. She always liked to play the same seat and same machine. Figured she was just superstitious.

But one day while playing, she whispered to me to take over her machine and she would explain later. I should move over to her machine and take over playing. I was to continue using HER players card, which I didn't understand at the time, because I could have easily pulled her card out and exchanged it with mine in less than 2.2 seconds, but I played with her card and figured just do what she asked to see what she was trying to show me. And would you believe her machine started hitting for me like crazy.

Later on we spoke in private and she explained that she didn't know how much the machine would win, she just knew it would because her son was controlling her machine through her players card. He had just got on duty an hour ago and knew where she was playing. She told me that whenever he works he sets her degree of difficulty to low, and she always wins.

She said that her son's job is to monitor all players of insert cards slot play, for which he's been doing for years and he always sets her degree of difficulty to low when she's there. I said that's got to be one of the most important jobs in the casino . . . and she said, more important than you think. She said he told her that whenever a player inserts a players card, it gives the casino the ability to CONTROL, among MANY MANY other things, the player's odds of winning at that particular machine.

Legal or not they do it. They do have the power. With your card inserted, they have all the power they need to control how much a player wins and loses, and everyone who inserts a card, trades that power for gifts and promotions. But if you do the math, in the long run, player card inserters end up paying 10 times the value of the gifts they get anyway. Free gifts in exchange for FULL CONTROL of your wallet.

So his main job is to find anyone who's winning, or who has won recently, and to increase their degree of difficulty on the slot machines they play. The only way around it is DON'T use your players card. I met the son one day outside the casino and tried to get him to speak more about it, but he would not. Doesn't know me well enough yet, plus totally afraid of losing his job. But not going to give up! I don't care if it takes me years . . . I want to know what HE KNOWS in and OUT!!!!

I found my new best friend!! .....And as Drago said in Rocky... "I WILL BREAK HIM" !!

I'll keep you posted!!

And when I do....Can anyone say "CLASS ACTION" ?????

Answer: Well, you never did identify the casino, so I can't research the type of games offered in the casino.

I can say that in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi and all the other jurisdictions that modeled their slot regulations on Nevada's, such manipulation is both impossible and illegal. The result of a spin is determined by numbers from a random number generator, which cannot have any outside influences, which is verified by the testing labs.

Moreover, if it were possible, it would not be allowed for the very situation that you described — an employee setting a slot machine to be favorable for a friend or relative.

Machine have hot and cold streaks all the time. Does the lady always win more money than she puts into the machine? Maybe she has losing sessions that you just didn't see. What is her long-term result? Is she ahead or behind, and by how much, for the long run?


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