CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Ask the Slot Expert: Converting free slot play to real dollars

20 December 2017

Question: I usually try to schedule visits to my local casino on the days when it is having hourly drawings for its Players Club members. Except for the last big drawing, which is for cash, all the smaller winners usually get $1,000 in free slot play.

So far I haven't been lucky enough to win, but should it happen someday, how can I play the slots to maximize my take-home cash, not counting any bonuses that I might hit?

Answer: One thousand dollars in free slot play. Wow! That's really good for an hourly drawing amount. Before we look at how to maximize your take-home from the free slot play, let's look at ways you might be able to improve your chances of winning in the drawing.

The three most important things to improve your chances of being called in a drawing are: rules, rules and rules.

You have to read the rules to know how winners are chosen (virtual entries or active players) and how to be eligible for a drawing.

Let's look at an active player drawing first. With this kind of drawing, small-stakes players have as good a chance of winning as high-stakes players. One active player is chosen at random from all of the players who are active when the drawing is triggered.

What's the definition of an active player? A player who makes a bet frequently enough to not go inactive. Helpful, right?

Casinos that use this sort of drawing are able to configure their slot club software to consider a player inactive after a certain length of time elapses without the player making a bet. They won't tell you the length of time, but it's usually around 15-20 seconds. The machines usually tell you when you've gone inactive by changing the color of the slot club screen on the machine or changing the color of or flashing the bezel around the slot club card slot. You go back to active as soon as you hit the Spin or Deal button again. Casinos put in the active player requirement to prevent players from increasing their chances by putting cards in multiple machines.

Be aware that there's a way that you can be actively playing a machine and still go inactive. If you go into a long bonus round, it can be so long until you make your next bet that you go inactive. You may be playing, but you're not making bets — the coin-in meter is not increasing — during the bonus round, so the system considers you to be inactive.

There was one Lord of the Rings variation that I spent a lot of time playing. I don't remember the details of the game play, but you collected rings as you played the base game. You could go into the bonus as long as you had a ring in the bank and you had to start the bonus once you collected 50 rings. Well, I had 50 rings and spent so long in the bonus round that the card reader considered my card abandoned and was flashing Reinsert Card.

It goes without saying, but if you're in an active player drawing, make sure you're active when the drawing is taking place. At the end of this column I'll tell my story of trying to stay active in a promotion this past weekend.

If the drawing is not active player, then it's virtual entries. You earn the majority of your entries through play, though sometimes there are ways to get a few extra entries. As the emcee called the names of the winners in one virtual entry drawing I participated in, someone in the crowd near me said, "It's the same names every time."

High-stakes players have an advantage in these drawings. They play more, so they earn more entries. So you do tend to hear some names frequently in these drawings.

Check the rules to learn how to earn entries. The earning period may start a few days before the drawings. Some days might also award two times entries. Play on those days.

So, you maximized your chances of being drawn and you won some free slot play. What should you do to maximize the amount of real money you can win from the free slot play?

It seems like the right thing to do is to play machines with high long-term paybacks. The name of the statistic gives a clue as to why it's not the right thing to look at. The payback applies to the long term, and even playing your grand of free slot play a penny at a time doesn't get you into the long term.

What you want to do is to play machines that have high hit frequencies. Every time the machine hits, it's converting your slot dollars into real dollars, even if the win is less than a push.

When I won a slot tournament and got $1000 in free slot play, I had my choice of NSU Deuces (99.7%) and 9/6 Jacks (99.5%). The Deuces game has a higher long-term payback (but not by much and certainly not enough to make a difference in 100 or 200 hands), but 9/6 Jacks has a higher hit frequency. I played the entire amount through a two-dollar 9/6 Jacks machine and walked away with $1250.

Another option is to play a high-denomination slot machine. In this case, you're hoping to get just a couple of good hits on the machine. But you're taking the risk of not hitting much of anything and not walking away with much real money from the free slot play.

Now, as I promised, my story of trying to stay active during a promotion this past weekend.

Station Casinos has been running a promotion for the past few months. Each of their casinos maintains a running total from $10,000 to $20,000, which increases as players play. Their system chooses a random number from 10,000 to 20,000 for each property. When the property's accumulator total hits the trigger number, the bonus is triggered. One active player wins the trigger amount and the other active players get up to $100 in free slot play.

The accumulator at Red Rock was over $19,000 last Saturday. I parked myself at an NSU Deuces machine with the intention to stay at it until the bonus hit. The value climbed from $19,200 to 300 to 400 and still the bonus wasn't hit. Whenever I had to feed the machine, I tried to put the money in as quickly as possible so I wouldn't go inactive. The bonus was ready to pop any minute now.

Every time I was dealt three or four cards to a royal, I said, "Please, no royal now. Not now." The bonus value climbed to $19,500 and kept on going to $19,600 and beyond. This was not the time to be out of commission for five minutes or more waiting for a handpay. I kept hoping for a dirty royal and not a natural one.

The machine next to me was almost always in use, so I couldn't play it to remain an active player while waiting for my handpay.

I got my wish, if you can consider that a positive. I did not hit a natural royal before the bonus hit (or after it hit, for that matter). I also didn't win the bonus, but did win $20 in free slot play.

And that's the time I hoped that I didn't hit a royal.


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