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: Do slot manufactures update software regularly?

28 March 2012

John,

I have been researching the RNG process used in current-day casino slot machines and found the process a bit confusing. First of all, the programmers use a process called seeding sometimes using a combination of date and time as input to the random number generator. It seems to me, if this was true, the generated numbers would tend to be greater as the day grew longer. My main question though pertains to what they call the PAR Table that is closely guarded by the casinos and machine vendors. These PAR tables contain all of the game symbols that are displayed via each computed stop on the display screen. I'm assuming that each column of the Par table, positions 01-99, contain all the possible symbols that can be displayed. For example, reel 1 could contain 20 pigeons, 16 ducks, 35 clams and only 2 bonus symbols. Odds are that clams would show up on the screen more times than the bonus symbol. Normally when a new machine appears in a casino, it seems to be easier to get bonuses and after it's been around for a while they are harder to get. I am aware that manufacturers update slot machine programs on a continual basis which allows them to alter the contents of the PAR tables. My uneducated guess is that the manufacturer can control how well a slot machine performs by simple alterations of the PAR tables. An example might be when a machine is first installed there would be 4 bonus symbols in reel 1 of the PAR table reduced to 2 in the next update of the machines software. What is your take on this subject?

Ron

Dear Ron,

Most (all?) slot programs seed the RNG using date and time, but that does not mean that the generated numbers increase as the day goes on. If you use the number of seconds since some milestone date, then the seed would constantly be increasing. But if you use the current month, date, hour, minute or second, or seconds since midnight or the top of the hour, etc., the seed value will reset itself at various times.

In addition, higher seed values don't necessarily lead to higher generated numbers. All of the random number generator functions I've seen include the mod operator.

There's no such thing as a PAR table, but each machine does have a PAR sheet, which describes the pay table on the machine, how likely it is to hit each winning combination listed in the pay table and the layouts of the symbols on the reels.

Manufacturers do not update slot machine programs on a continual basis. Each program has to be approved by multiple gaming labs. It would be prohibitively expensive to have regular releases of the software. Once a slot machine is on a casino slot floor, casinos will only update the software if there's a vulnerability that has to be eliminated or some capability they want to add.

Updating software is not the same as updating reel layouts (long-term paybacks). Casinos can update the reel layouts (for example, making the bonus harder to hit) without changing the machine's software. Still, casinos do not usually change reel layouts when a machine is on the slot floor. Doing so requires licensing the new layout from the manufacturer and filing paperwork with the state. In some jurisdictions, the casino can't even make the change itself. A representative from the gaming board has to make the change.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

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