CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Ask the Slot Expert: Predicting a slot machine's performance

23 December 2015

In one of your replies, you mentioned that it is a mistake for a player to use the past performance of a machine to try to predict future performance, as in a "hot" machine. In the next sentence you state that if you are playing a "hot" machine you will play it until it stops being "hot". In other words, you are admitting that you make the same mistake you caution people not to make.

I wrestle with that same contradiction whenever I play casino games, although my games of choice are blackjack and video poker, and sometimes craps or roulette.

I know from being a long-time gambler that an RNG, a deck of cards, a pair of dice, or a ball on a spinning wheel do not have a memory, nor do they care what the next outcome will be. I know this from reading about simulations done by respected experts in this field. Yet I also know from experience that streaks do happen. Is there an intangible force out there (call it luck) that we have not been able to quantify up to this point?

I worked for several years for a large local construction company in a supervisory role. When the housing bubble began to burst, there was a massive layoff in the company. I had been told that my job was safe and not to worry. Then one Friday morning I got the chilling news -- I was laid off. I was pretty upset. I didn't want to go home as it was still early in the day, so I decided to visit my favorite local casino. I sat down at a NSUD (Not So Ugly Deuces) machine and started losing. I always keep my gambling bankroll separate, so I wasn't playing with grocery money. After putting in three or four hundred-dollar bills, I started to win a little. I upped the ante from $1 to $2 ($10 per hand). After a few hands, it happened. I hit a Royal Flush and an $8,000 jackpot!

So you see, I do believe in that x-factor -- only I wish I could tell when it is about to appear. I guess it's a little like believing in an afterlife. There really isn't any scientific proof that it exists, yet millions of people will tell you they know in their hearts that it does.

I don't think my statements were contradictory. Let me expand on my reply to show why.

Let's say we're playing video poker and the quads have been hitting and we have a 300-unit profit. We can't say that this machine has been hot in the past, so it will continue to be hot in the future. The only thing we can say is that the machine has been hot in the past.

On the other hand -- unlike the afterlife -- we know that streaks do exist. Randomness requires streaks. Randomness is the intagible force. If we're tossing a fair coin, we should see the ratio of heads to total tosses and the ratio of tails to total tosses to both be about 0.5. But the results won't be an orderly alternation between heads and tails. We'll see streaks of heads and streaks of tails, but we never know when the streaks will start or end. After four heads in a row, we don't know if the streak will continue or end on the next toss.

If we're playing a hot slot or video poker machine, we can't predict that the machine will continue to be hot in the future. But we certainly can continue playing it in the hopes that it will stay hot and cash out it if appears that the hot streak is over.

The difference is prediction versus wishful thinking.

John Patrick, an east coast gambling personality, recommends charting tables in his books. He recommends joining tables at which players are winning and running from tables at which players are losing.

Of course, just because a table was hot when you were charting it, that doesn't mean it will continue to be hot after you buy-in at it. I have to admit, though, that given the choice between joining a hot table and a cold table, I'd probably choose the hot table -- even though I know it won't necessarly stay hot.

Congratulations on your royal flush. I had a similar situation a week ago, although the stakes were mostly lower and there (unfortunately) was no royal flush involved.

I wanted to play my favorite dollar video poker machine, but a gentlemen was already playing it. I could have played the machine next to him, but he was smoking a smelly cigar so I was going to keep my distance. I settled into a Triple/Five/Ten-Play machine that offered the same paytable at quarters. I started with Triple Play. I had some luck with three hands, so I decided to go to Five Play -- not because I predicted that the machine would continue to be hot, but because I wanted to have more money in play if it should continue to be hot.

My good luck continued and I moved up to Ten Play. It seemed like I could do nothing wrong. It wasn't like I won every hand, but whenever my credit meter fell I hit a quad or many full houses and it went right back up again.

After my dinner break, I had the mirror opposite results. I really don't know how the afternoon's profit disappeared so quickly. I went from 10 hands to five to three as my credit meter fell. I quit with a small profit and a boatload of comp points.

I want to take issue with one of your examples in the list of items that hace no memory. A deck of cards does have a memory. Odds shift as cards are dealt. Of course, the deck loses its memory when it's reconstituted and shuffled -- assuming a fair shuffle.


I live in upstate New York, near the Turning Stone casino. You've discussed slots and video poker machines at Indian casinos that aren't class III machines and said they are bingo based and have a small bingo card somewhere on the screen.

Are these the same type that are at the Turning Stone? I've never seen any type of bingo card on them.

Does video poker strategy work on these machines at Turning Stone?

The Oneida Nation, on whose lands the Turning Stone casino is situated, has a compact with the state of New York and has offered Class III games since 1993.

That's good news for video poker players. Study your strategies and bring your strategy cards with you to the casino. Strategy works on these video poker machines.


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