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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: More frustrating video poker situations

27 February 2019

Question: As to errors on ticket redemption machines: I have only had one. It was at Hollywood casino Tunica for $300. They checked the machine and it reported amount dispensed. I would be careful not counting your money. I count mine before I walk away from the machine.

Your play is being monitored in most casinos. I had a three-day stay at Orleans in Vegas. I asked for an extra day as I stayed five days. Host immediately told me I had won money and could give the amount I had won. He did give me the extra day.

I had gotten lucky in a particular video poker carousel and hit five jackpots in the five days. Two royals. Two aces and kicker on TDB machine.

I think they look at your long-term pattern. Last visit I did not win crap. I still get the three days with free play. Boyd has made major changes. I have never been pictured in a casino. If they don’t have now they will have facial recognition soon. I think poker's days are numbered mainly due to professionals playing in teams, etc. I play for pleasure but do like to win. When mailers stop coming, I do the same.

Answer: There's a lot to unpack here because you're commenting on a number of different topics.

First, ticket redemption machines. The good news is that you're the only one to report an error, so far. I'm disappointed that the machine itself didn't detect a problem and go into a tilt mode.

In any case, it bears repeating. Always count the money dispensed by a ticket redemption machine.

Next, your play is being monitored whenever you use a players card — and even, to some extent, when you don't use a card. If you play a lot of action on a machine without a card, the slot club system may send a "hot uncarded player" alert to the floor staff, who may approach you and offer to get a players card for you.

When you use a card, the slot club system can track just about anything you can think of, such as: when you inserted your card, when you removed your card, how long you played, how much action you played, how much free play you used, how much you won that required a hand-pay, how much money you put into the machine, how much money you cashed out, how much the casino expected to win from you and, of course, how much you actually won or lost.

Some casinos realize players have to win sometimes and use win/loss mainly to give losers a little extra. Others think that you've already been rewarded when you win money, so don't even think about asking for anything extra. Rumor has it that one locals casino won't even send you a monthly mailer (with free play and dining credits) after you've had a profitable month.

Slot clubs do take your past performance into account when calculating your offers, but I don't think I'd say that they look long term. Most players I've spoken with guess that casinos use about three months of play in their calculations, but they have no way to know for sure. They came up with this guess based on how long it took for their offers to recover after a month with lower than usual play or go back down after a month with higher than usual play.

Boyd has made major changes to its slot club. Good for slot players, not so good for video poker players.

Many casinos are using facial recognition now, mostly to identify unwanted people, such as criminals, when they're in the casino.

I doubt live poker will disappear completely, but I don't how many casinos will offer it. One casino I frequent closed its poker room about a year ago and another closed its poker room many, many years ago.

Finally, players have the power to vote with their wallets. If they don't like what one casino is offering, they might be able to find another with better offers.


Question: You asked, "Is there anything more frustrating than getting a natural four-of-a-kind when playing Deuces Wild?"

How about a dealt natural king-high straight flush?

Answer: Okay, that is frustrating getting so close to a dealt royal and then having to give up the straight flush to probably end up with nothing. At least with a three-deuce straight flush, you can't do worse than four-of-kind.

Natural king-high straight flushes don't happen that often. Dealt ones even less so.

Natural quads, on the other hand, occur much more frequently and it seems like I've been hitting them right and left the past week. But only when playing Deuces Wild. Not when I've been playing Bonus Poker.

Here's another candidate for most frustrating situation. I call it the Spin Poker Scatter Royal. It's bad enough when you get all the cards for a royal on the screen but two are in the same column. It's worse when they're in separate columns but not on a payline.


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