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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert: How often do casinos move slot machines?

21 May 2014

How often do casino move machines around and change them out?

Pretty much as often as they want.

Some casinos have a designated area in which they put new machines. That area will get changed frequently because machines stay there for a week or more and then either move off the slot floor or to a more permanent home on the floor.

And some casinos have areas that they haven't changed for a year or more.

It all depends on how well the machines and areas of the slot floor are performing. If machines still get a sufficient amount of play in an area, they might stay there for months or years. If a machine is underperforming, it might get moved to an area that gets more traffic. If an area of the slot floor is underperforming, the casino might move hot games and appointment games (games that people make a point of playing, like Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune) to the area to try to improve its performance.

In my experience, it's a win/lose situation. Sometimes my favorite machines stay around for years, sometimes even in the exact same locations. Other times, machines I want to play again are gone from one visit to another.


What are the pros and cons of playing Ten-Play $1 Jacks or Better versus single-line $10 machine? Getting a W2-G for four-of-a-kind on the $10 machine seems to be the biggest drawback.

The pros and cons are almost exactly the same as those for playing $3 per spin on a multi-line penny slot machine versus playing $3 per spin on a single payline dollar machine.

On the multi-hand (or multi-line) machine, you're spreading your risk over multiple hands (or paylines). As a result, multi-hand machines are less volatile than single-hand machines because you don't have everything riding on one hand. Multi-hand machines hit more frequently than single-hand machines because they can pay back less than a push. On a multi-hand machine, you can bet $10 and win a buck or two on a hand or two. On the single-hand machine, the least you can win on a hand is $10, a push. Lower volatility means that your money will tend to last longer and you won't have to feed the machine as frequently.

Lower volatility also means that you tend to win less per hand, on the average. Instead of having to draw two cards to hit a royal flush on just one hand, for example, you have to draw those same two cards on all ten hands on the multi-hand machine to win the same amount.

Now, I said that the pros and cons are almost exactly the same as playing $3 per spin on a multi-line video slot as opposed to playing $3 per spin on a single-line dollar slot. There's an additional con for playing the multi-line slot. Because the multi-line slot is typically a penny machine, the long-term payback on the multi-line slot is almost definitely lower than that on the dollar slot.

But not that much lower today, I hope. Many penny machines now have a minimum bet of 25 or more cents. They should have long-term paybacks somewhere between that on a single-line quarter machine and that on a single-line dollar machine because the minimum bet is more than the minimum bet on the quarter machine and the maximum bet is like that on the dollar machine.

On video poker machines, the paytable determines the long-term payback, not the denomination. A 9/6 Jacks or Better machine pays back the exact same percentage whether it's a $1 machine or a $100 machine.


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