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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Changing denomination on a video poker machine

9 December 2015

In one of your responses you stated that a video poker machine has one chip and it does not matter what denomination you are playing for this chip regulates your game and assures that it is completely random. Then why do I frequently see various cards based on the denomination wagered?

Example: a $0.25-$0.50-$1 video poker machine will have the same cards dealt for the $0.25 and $0.50 denominations but a different set of cards for the $1 denomination for the same game.

More specifically, if I am playing double bonus for $0.25 and I end up with a four-six-eight-ten-king that same four-six-eight-ten-king will show up on the $0.50 double bonus game but a different set of cards will show on the double bonus $1 game. The pay tables will remain the same but the actual cards dealt will differ.

What I said was that the only thing that could differ between the various denominations of Double Bonus is the paytable. Paytables are very small and all payables for each game/denomination combination could easily fit on one memory chip.

There is no chip that regulates the game and ensures the results are random. The program uses output from the Random Number Generator to choose the cards for each hand. The Random Number Generator ensures randomness.

When you switch games, the machine has to load the program to play that particular game. The only thing that differs in the various game programs is the hand evaluation algorithm. For instance, a Deuces Wild game program needs to know that all 2s are wild.

When you switch denomination, the machine only needs to load the paytable for the new denomination for the currently selected game. The game program doesn't need to change.

Now, I think what you're saying is this. You're playing quarter Double Bonus and switch to 50 cents. Your last hand at quarters is displayed again. But if you change to dollars, a different five-card hand is displayed.

This machine may have a separate program for each game/paytable combination, regardless of denomination. If the paytable is the same for quarters and halves, the two denominations could share the same game program. If the paytable is different for dollars, which is not unusual, it may have a different game program for that denomination. When that program is loaded, it shows the last hand played using it.


I am in New York. Today I made the huge, stupid mistake of giving my winning voucher of $660 to someone to cash for me because I owe NY state taxes (in dispute) and didn't want the cashier to keep it. Although I stayed in view of the guy, he slipped away when the line got very long and a commotion ensued.

Security was less than sympathetic. I fully understand that I am responsible for this loss, but I really want to confront this perp. They do have him on camera, and I showed them the machine I won on. The win was two days ago. I want security to trace the voucher so that I can get his name. I know that he became "bearer of instrument" but he still had an agreement with me.

Is there any way I can compel security to collaborate with me in tracking him down?

New York's racinos are run by the New York State Lottery, so anytime you have a win of $600 or more, you will have to provide ID. Here's an excerpt from the lottery's FAQ page:

By law, the Gaming Commission is also required to withhold overdue taxes owed to New York State, past-due support and prior public assistance from any Lottery prize of more than $600.

You've gotten yourself into quite a strange situation. In trying to evade the mechanism set up to capture money from tax scofflaws and deadbeat parents so you could keep the money, you enlisted the help of a "friend" to cash the ticket for you and he ran off with the money. You ended up not getting the money anyway. And if you are able to recover the money from the thief with the casino's or police's help, the money will go right to the state. If you had just cashed the voucher yourself, you would have gotten the money back if your tax dispute was settled in your favor.

Your only recourse now may be to go to the local police. They may be able to get the identification information your "friend" gave to the casino and track him down.

Of course, it's possible that he used fake ID.


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