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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert: Should I stay at a hot machine?

1 May 2013

In March 2013, I received a card in the mail from Pearl River Resort. The card said that they missed me. Come back and I would be eligible to play for free under the new member program. On the first visit they would reimburse me up to $500 gaming losses on the first day of play.

After losing over $500 I anticipated my reimbursement. Over a month passed and I received nothing. I contacted marketing and was told that since I had won $211, I was not eligible for the $500 reimbursement.

I realize that the Indian casinos are probably not regulated the same as other casinos, but is this legal? Even in the fine print it did not state that any wins negated the reimbursements.

I've heard from other players who are confused about loss reimbursement programs. There always seems to be some disagreement between what the players think they lost and what the casino says they lost. Now, I can see a discrepancy of a few dollars, but not over $700. You say you lost over $500 and the casino says you won $211.

How are you determining that you lost over $500? Are you counting your losing spins? Did you play without using your card?

I'm concerned about your methodology because you wrote that the fine print did not state that any wins negated reimbursement. If you win overall, there is no loss to reimburse.

The rules state that the "qualifying slot loss for reimbursement is based solely on the first day of play after club sign-up from 6 a.m. to 5:59 a.m." If you have a loss overall at the end of that time, you will be reimbursed for your loss, up to $500. If you have a net win, congratulations. Take the money and run.

Finally, it's not the wild west at Indian casinos and they're not free to defraud customers. I'm sure there's an explanation for this discrepancy. Please write back to tell me how you calculated your loss.

Jackpots for all,
John


I am new to this whole casino thing. One just opened up in Columbus, Ohio. My question is, if you hit on a slot machine (say over $50), should you stay at it or stop playing that machine?

I have heard different opinions on this, but I would really like to know your thoughts on it.

Thank you,
Linda

Dear Linda,

I'm not surprised that you've heard different opinions about whether to stay or stop. Some people may even have their own observations to back up their opinion.

When there's conflicting opinions and evidence, I call those situations the "yin and yang" of slot play. One group says you should stay (the machine is hot) and they have their own evidence, maybe anecdotal, to prove it. The other group says leave -- the machine has to turn cold, they figure -- and they have their evidence too.

Both can't be right.

When you have both the yin and the yang, that's an indication that neither group is right. In reality, nothing has changed after you hit your mini-jackpot. The odds for hitting something else are still the same. The odds, in fact, are the same on every spin regardless of how much or little you won on the last spin -- or the last hundred spins.

Because nothing has changed, there's no mathematical basis for staying or leaving. In this case, I suggest you follow your emotions. Stay with the machine to see if it will give you something else. Or take the money and run. It's up to you.

Jackpots for all,
John


John,

Could you please explain the difference between an RNG and a PRNG? I'm not familiar with a PRNG. Is it not as random as an RNG?

Much thanks. I enjoy reading your column.

Tom

Dear Tom,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

I usually refer to the function that determines the result of a spin in the software running a slot machine as the RNG (Random Number Generator). In truth, computers have a rough time doing things randomly. We want 2 plus 2 to always be 4 and not sometimes 3 and sometimes 5 in addition to 4.

To be precise with our terminology, we should call the function in the slot machine's programming a PRNG (Pseudo-Random Number Generator). A PRNG generates a stream of numbers that satisfy many of the tests for randomness but is not truly generated at random. Because the RNG function in a slot machine is made up of mathematical operations that yield predictable results with a given set of inputs, the function is really a PRNG and not a true RNG.

But it's all just semantics as far as the slot player is concerned. The key points are: the results of a spin are unpredictable, and the function is not influenced by any external factors.

Jackpots for all,
John


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