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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert: No one can steal your slot jackpot

10 December 2014

Your "rabbit hole" writer is a casino owner's dream. The "standard deviation from the norm" will break the statistical atheist every time. In 10,000 trials, you expect a run of the same outcome. Unless you are a gambler. I can get a run of 17 reds, and make a killing, unless I'm betting black. Problem is, you can't predict when you are in the middle of a run. Look at the beautiful interiors of casinos. Only losers paid for that. Not a single winner paid for any part of it.

To the casinos, most wins are a loan the gambler will pay back, with interest. Lucky socks, "hidden statistical rules" and blind faith in Lady Luck keeps casinos in business. The truest believers are the believers in Lady Luck. No losses, or string of losses, can shake their faith. I have known a sad few. Truly, bankrupt, sad few.

This writer is referring to a reference I made to another gaming author in my columns two and three weeks ago. Frank Scoblete and I got into an infinite loop with this author going back and forth on the validity of principles of probability and statistics that have been proven out over hundreds of years.

One of the principles he wouldn't accept is the Gambler's Fallacy — the belief that past events influence the likelihood of future events. That is, he would not accept that the Fallacy is indeed a fallacy.

Two sayings about gamblers:

  • Penn Jillette: Las Vegas was built for people who are really bad at math.
  • There's nothing a casino likes more than a gambler with a system.

Re: Your recent column on "A" and "B" casinos.

I am a frequent player at the Borgata. It seems that there are always cleaning folks around. Oftentimes, I have an attendant cleaning over, under and around me while I am playing. The Philadelphia papers often mention it as being the leader in Atlantic City.

In last week's column, I commented that I grade casinos and their hotels based on how well the operators keep the properties and lamented the fact that none of Atlantic City's casinos got better than a B. Thanks for pointing out that there is an Atlantic City casino that is raising the bar.


As usual, sir, you are spot on. The Donald couldn't carry Steve Wynn's gym bag or the contents within.

As a vendor servicing the Atlantic City gaming market since its inception, I had the opportunity to come in contact with both of them. Not only is Steve Wynn a far better businessman, but he's a fine gentleman as well.

There are a ton of people on the East Coast who would have much more preferred the entire Casino Control Commission would have left town as opposed to Mr. Wynn. And by the way, Patriot Gaming made a fantastic deal on those slot machines [from Trump Taj Mahal]. My best guess is they will break them down for replacement parts and be making large $$ for years to come. Happy for them as they are good people.

Always enjoy your columns especially when I realize how many folks just do not get the RNG thing. Methinks that the word random must throw them off.

Have a Happy Holiday and keep the great writing coming.

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

I used to go to the Mirage Resorts shareholder meetings. It was always interesting to hear Steve Wynn talk about the current state of and the future of the gaming industry. I have to admit, though, that I found it incongruous that the refreshments at a Mirage Resorts shareholder meeting (cookies and coffee) paled in comparison with those at a Circus Circus Enterprises meeting (hot breakfast stations, made to order omelets and waffles and pancakes). (Have you ever eaten at the buffet at Circus Circus?) Of course, the times of the meetings — morning for Circus Circus (and then Mandalay Resort Group) and afternoon for Mirage had much to do with the menu.


I am so glad I stumbled across your column ... it's nice to get this information in layman's terms.

One of my casino strategies was to move far, far away after dumping a bunch of money into a losing machine so that I wouldn't have to watch while someone else hit "my" jackpot a couple of spins later. However, if I understand how the RNG process works, it seems as though scurrying away is not necessary because it is all a matter of split-second timing and even if I stayed on the machine, there is no guarantee that I would have won that jackpot. In other words, the person behind me took the spin at that moment when the RNG spit out the sequence for the jackpot and I may not have.

Assuming that I am correct, I can't tell you how good that makes me feel and now I can stop kicking myself for not taking one more spin. Knowing this has made my casino visits much more fun.

You have it absolutely right. Just because someone hits a jackpot on a machine you have just left does not mean that you would have hit that jackpot had you stayed. It is all a matter of split-second timing and the winner just happened to hit the spin button when the RNG had selected the jackpot as the spin result.

If it's going to make you upset to see someone do well on a machine that did not treat you well, then move to where you can't see the machine. But if you do stay nearby and the next player hits it big, remember that you were not necessarily going to hit it big too if you had stayed.


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