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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Slot player's rituals

27 November 2013



I thought I would let you know Harrah's Chester (Philadelphia, Penn.) policy (as of a few months ago) regarding shutting down a slot machine.



They will allow it for Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars members only and then grant a maximum time for the machine to be down according to player status. I believe Platinum is one hour, Diamond is two and Seven Stars is three hours.



They do have periods when they will not shut a machine down, although the casino's being busy never seems to be an issue when I request to shut one down (I am a Diamond player). It seems to be when there is a lot of maintenance going on they will not shut down machines in a particular area. For example, if a bank of poker machines are down but they left five running so players can have access to a few machines, they will not shut down a machine in that bank of five.





Each casino has its own policies for when they will shut down a machine and for how long they will shut it down. Thanks for sharing the policy at Harrah's Chester.


The next time you're playing your favorite machine and need to take a break, you can try asking a slot floorperson if the machine can be shut down for you to ensure it's available for you when you come back.










Here's something that drives me to distraction. I'm sure you have heard it before.


While playing video penny slots at a racino, I sat down to play next to a senior lady (I'm a senior, too) who, every time she hit the spin button on her machine, would go through the following scenario. First she would select the same number of lines button, then hit the same number of coins button, then as the reels were spinning she would slap her hand four times across the video screen. Some players just can't seem to understand that this type of behavior has no effect on the outcome whatsoever. It only annoys the players on both sides of them. I had to get up and find another machine since she was getting on my nerves.


I feel sorry for some of the people I have seen banging on the machines in anger, spinning the reels as fast as they can, never even waiting or looking at the outcome before they pound the spin button again with their fist, sometimes cursing. This is not my idea of entertainment and I distance myself from these types of players as far as possible, and would advise anyone else who observes this to do the same.


I like to go to a casino to relax, have a drink, get something to eat, and play at my leisure on a set daily budget. If I win or break even, that's good. But if not, I still win because I enjoyed myself without breaking my bank account or playing just to win a jackpot.


Keep the great columns coming, John, and above all... have fun!




Thanks for the kind words about my columns.


Slot players can be a superstitious lot. I've seen players plaster their machines with pictures of their kids or grandkids, so much so that you could barely see the reels through all the clutter. I've seen players set up an array of good luck charms across the tops of their machines.


The accessories are easy to ignore. Like you, though, I find it tough to ignore the rituals. One lady would wave her hand in front of the reels, first one way and then the other, before pressing the spin button. That was annoying to see her trying to put a spell on the reels every spin.


Of course, even though the good luck charms and rituals have zero effect on the results on a machine, these players are perfectly within their rights to put whatever they want on their machines and do whatever they want before, during and after each spin as long as they don't infringe on another player's space. Being able to be seen, either directly or in peripheral vision, doesn't count.


You did the only thing you can do when another player's behavior bothers you -- move.


Playing the slots should be fun and entertaining. Like you, I've seen players play machines like they're playing in a tournament -- hitting the spin button as quickly as they can. And I remember another regular at the Desert Inn. He would park himself at the end machine of a bank of Double Diamonds, swivel the chair so his legs were out in the aisle and he was sitting parallel to the machine, alternate between taking a sip of his drink and a puff of his cigarette using his right hand, and push the spin button with his left. All the while, I don't think he ever looked at the reels to see what landed on the payline.


I like to watch the reels and root for combinations. If my money is on the line, I'm going to try to get as much out of the experience as I can. Otherwise, it's like paying for a movie and then sleeping through it.


Once when I was in a downtown Las Vegas casino with my cousin, I heard my name being paged. I picked up a house phone and got connected with my cousin's boyfriend, who had been in the casino with us. He said that he got so upset when he just missed a high-paying combination on a slot, he hit the glass hard enough to break it. A slot floorperson came right away to see what happened. The player next to him told the floorperson that my cousin's boyfriend had barely touched the glass (yeah, right). The slot floorperson said that players break machines all the time. My cousin's boyfriend decided to make himself scarce and go to the casino next door to page us. Players should be engaged with what is happening on the machine, but they can't take a cold streak personally.


Like I tell people when they ask me when they should leave a machine: Win or lose, if you're having fun playing a machine, stay with it. If playing stops being fun, switch to another machine or stop playing altogether.




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