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Ask the Slot Expert: Completing flushes on multi-hand video poker21 September 2016
Answer: It seems like you have a 1-in-4 chance of completing the flush, but that's not the case. Let's do the math.
Your hand has four cards in one suit and one card in another suit. There are 47 cards remaining in the deck. How many of the cards are in the suit you need? There are already four in your hand. That leaves nine cards of your suit left in the deck.
Your chances for completing the flush are 9-in-47 (0.19) not 1-in-4 (0.25). On the average, you'll complete the flush just under two hands each time you draw to a 4-card flush.
Answer: To rephrase your first question, is the RNG function part of the game program or is it part of the machine's operating system (OS)? If it's part of the OS, all game programs can use the same RNG function. If it's part of the game program, then each game program contains a separate instance of the RNG function, even though the actual instructions in the function are identical in all game programs.
Slot manufacturers do not release many technical details about how their RNGs are implemented because they don't want to help RNG cheats reverse engineer the software in the machines. I've asked around and both implementations (in OS or in game program) are used.
As you said, it doesn't really matter whether there is a separate instance of the RNG function for each game or paytable and denomination or the same one is used for all. Any change in your luck when you switch game or denomination is just that -- a change in your luck.
As for your second question, there once was a machine that went through a fixed sequence of results. That machine was produced about 100 years ago. Every fourteenth play on the machine was a winner. It didn't take players long to discover the pattern.
Some of the early computer-controlled slots are close to your description. The software running the machine would poll the RNG and determine the result of the next spin at the conclusion of the current spin. The machine would then sit with that result locked in, waiting to be played and to display the result.
As James Maida, president of Gaming Labs International says, "Anytime a machine is sitting with a result locked in it is vulnerable to being cheated." And that's exactly what happened. The Weeks Box is a device that could predict the payout on the next spin on these machines.
As a result, regulators require that RNGs run continuously and that the software not (poll the RNG and) lock in the result until after the player has started the spin or hand. Video poker machines choose the five deal cards when you press the Deal button and they don't choose the draw cards until you draw. The RNG cheat's job is much harder (impossible?) now because the machine is never sitting with a result locked in.
On any machine in a casino today, the result you get is the result determined by values from the RNG at the moment that you started the play or drew to replace discards.
Finally, you made a statement that is incorrect. You said that the "RNG is slowly getting the odds in my favor to hit."
An RNG just generates a stream of numbers. The RNG has no idea whether the numbers are favorable to the players. It is not influenced by any outside forces. An RNG can't get the odds in your favor, slowly or otherwise.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
Best of John Robison