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Ask the Slot Expert: Is the deal of cards on a video poker machine as random and unbiased as someone dealing a real deck of cards?

28 February 2018

Question: Prior to the recent amendment to the New York Constitution, casino gambling in New York was illegal — thus, video lottery terminals (Class II) were utilized to get around the prohibition. After the amendment to allow gambling in New York, the Rivers Casino in Schenectady, and now the Montreign in the Catskill Mountains, opened. Since gambling is now allowed there, VLTs are no longer necessary at these casinos. So I assume that the slot are Class III not class II as you said in your 2/21 column.

Answer: You're right. In 2013, New York's voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling in up to seven casinos in the state. The Montreign casino, now known as Resorts World Catskills, is one of the casinos not run by the New York State Lottery. The casino has table games and should have slot machines with internal RNGs, just like in Atlantic City down (way down) the road. Thanks for the correction.


Question: I have played video poker and in various poker games for many years, and I always am surprised by, what seems to me, a higher number of relatively good potential hands (royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, etc.) dealt on poker machines as compared to playing with real cards actually dealt.

You said that "Video poker machines deal cards without regard for what has happened in the past."

Are you saying that the deal of cards on the video poker machines is as random and unbiased as someone dealing a real deck of cards? It would seem the casino would want more potential good hands on the machine to keep the player interested and willing to keep playing.

Answer: Yes, I am saying that a video poker machine will deal a hand with good potential exactly as frequently as Uncle John at the kitchen table teaching his nephews how to play poker, much to the consternation of their parents.

Nevada has a regulation that any electronic gaming device operated or manufactured in the state that mimics a real world game must have the same odds as the real world game. Video roulette must have the same odds as the spinning roulette wheel. Video blackjack must have the same odds as the game dealt at the blackjack table. Hands on a video poker machine must have the same odds of being dealt as the same hands at a poker table.


Question: I am writing in response to the question about playing a video poker machine after the jackpot had been hit.

A friend of ours was in Philadelphia, Mississippi a few years back playing at the Golden Sun and Silver Moon casinos. He was playing next to a lady who hit a royal on a quarter machine and continued to play the same machine and hit another royal within one hour.

This is rare, to be sure, but I believe many of your readers have similar tales.

Answer: I've never had a two-royal day, but I know someone who has. I have had a two-royal week and a four-royal month (not counting a few $400 royals playing dime hundred play).

One of John Grochowski's readers had the ultimate good luck story. Hit reader hit back-to-back royals.

My best story of hitting multiple jackpots on one machine is hitting 4 Deuces three times on one machine. The Big Time Bonus at Red Rock had just gone over $19,700 and was going to hit at any moment. Everyone at the bank at which I was playing had been there for about an hour and nobody was going to leave until the bonus hit. I ended up playing over 3000 hands on that machine. (By the way, you hit 4 Deuces on NSU Deuces roughly every 5347, on the average.)


Question: Why is there only one Stinkin' Rich dollar 100-line slot in the high limit room when throughout the whole casino they have many 1 to 5-cent Stinkin' Rich machines?

Answer: We're not in on the the slot director's thought process, so it's impossible to figure out some of the decisions he or she made.

The mix of machines in the high limit rooms has gotten a bit wacky since the video slot revolution. The rooms used to just have $2, $5, $10 and higher versions of the same reel-spinning games on the main slot floor. Now they also have some higher denominations of the video slots, but I rarely see anyone play them. In my unscientific observations, it seems like the higher limit players prefer to play traditional reel-spinning slots and the video slot players want to bet a max of $5 to $10 per spin.

Another unscientific observation is that I frequently see players betting more per spin or hand on the main slot floor than some of the players in the high limit room.

In addition to video slots not being popular with high limit players, one more possible reason why there is only one Stinkin' Rich machine in your high limit room is that there is limited space in the room and so many different video slot themes. There isn't enough room for more than one of any machine — video or reel-spinning — unless it's a really popular title.


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