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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Picking your way to a fortune on 88 Fortunes

18 November 2015

I love your column and straight talk on the technology and psychology of slot play and slot players, respectively. I recently starting playing the "88 Fortunes" machine and have gone into the progressive bonus frequently. I noticed that once my progressive prize is determined by selecting gold coins and matching three progressive symbols, the display does not show what symbols are under the unselected coins.

So, I'm wondering how the result of each selection is determined. It goes without saying that most times I hit one of the two smallest progressive levels, i.e., Mini or Minor. But last weekend I hit the big one, the GRAND, for $21k.

I'm still curious though because once you match three on the Quick Hits free spins bonus, the results of the unselected squares are revealed before the free spins begin.

Thanks for the kind words.

I'm not familiar with the 88 Fortunes machines, so I Googled it. It was originally developed by ShuffleMaster in 2012. Bally Gaming merged with ShuffleMaster in 2013, so the game is now a Bally game. It is available in both Class II and Class III versions.

I found a number of "reviews" of the machine online in the trade magazines. Funny how many phrases from Bally's webpage for the game appeared in those reviews. When I wrote a few of those new game reviews many years ago, it was really difficult to find something to say about a machine you've never seen and the only information you have about it is from the marketing materials. You have to repeat phrases — and even whole sentences — from the sell sheets.

I think every game that has an item-picking bonus round should show you the values under the items you didn't pick when the round is over. Skeptics will argue that showing the unselected values doesn't prove that those are the values you would have gotten had you chosen those items, but I trust that the slot regulators have verified that the item values are randomly assigned at the beginning of the round and that the values do not change based on what you've chosen.

There are four progressives on 88 Fortunes and you have to match three coins to win the associated progressive. That requires 12 coins and that's the number of coins from which you choose. I would have expected the pool of coins to be much larger and to have only three Grand coins and lots and lots of Mini coins, but it looks like you have a 1-in-4 chance to win each progressive.

That doesn't seem right, though. It's unusual to have a bonus event with a 1-in-4 chance at $20,000+ hit frequently. But then again, this machine does have a max bet of $8.80. You don't have to make a max bet to be eligible to win the progressive, but I bet the help screens say that you're more likely to get to the coin-picking round the larger your bet.

I found a few videos of the bonus round on YouTube. Most players bet the max, but some did not. Each video shows the player choosing at least one Grand baby coin. Plus the Mini and Minor jackpots were in the $10s and $20s, respectively — not much of a payout on an $8.80 bet.

From the videos, I think you really do have a 1-in-4 chance at each progressive, though it would be nice to see all values revealed.

Finally, it looks like you happened to hit the Grand when it hadn't been hit in a while. Most of the videos show a value in the low $10,000s. (One video shows a player winning over $3,000 and the machine didn't lock up. It couldn't have been in the U.S.)


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