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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Stopping the spin on a slot machine

25 December 2013

I love to read your columns online. Your experience and knowledge are often helpful in the casino.

Last weekend I was in a casino playing a "Double-Triple Bonus" one-line slot game. The player next to me was playing very quickly and often stopping the reels while they were still rolling. After a while I casually asked him why he did that and doesn't it possibly make you miss a winner?

He told me that he had read somewhere that when he pushes the stop button, the result was already determined. He also went on to show me that wins only come when the symbols on the reels roll a certain way. Can that be true?

After reading your columns it seems to describe the RNG, but what about the reels rolling?

Am I safe to follow this guy's method without a chance of spoiling my chances to win?

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

Your neighbor is right -- up to a point. The machine polls the RNG and determines the results of your spin right after you press the Spin button. The result will be the same whether you stop the reels or sit back and enjoy the show.

His second statement is that the symbols roll a certain way only on winning spins. I've never seen a machine reveal whether a spin was going to be a winner by "rolling" the symbols differently.

One of the innovations in Charles Fey's Liberty Bell Slot Machine over 100 years ago was the staggered stopping of the reels. The staggered stop lets the excitement build as each symbol in the result lands on the payline one by one. I find it very unlikely that a machine will indicate that a spin will be a winner -- or, really, that a spin will be a loser.

The whole point of the staggered stop is that the spin isn't over until it's over, until all three reels have stopped. You can have two jackpot symbols land on the payline and you're possibly going to hit it big all the while until the third reel stops. If the reels acted differently based on whether a spin was a hit, you'd know right away whether your jackpot dreams will be fulfilled this spin.

You can stop the reels without spoiling your chances to win. You might spoil your bankroll, though. If you let the spins play out, you'll play fewer spins per hour and that will decrease your expected loss per hour and that will stretch your bankroll. You'll get more playing time for your bankroll.


The casinos I visit in Biloxi, Mississippi, and on the east coast of Florida have a "slot machine" that is a roulette machine. A real, honest-to-goodness wheel with 6 to 8 chairs around the wheel, which is in the center and which actually spins like a dealer-handled roulette wheel.

How do these type machines work? What makes them tick? Do you recommend this type slot over a real roulette wheel? And are the odds the same as a real 38-number wheel which I believe that every number has a 2.63 percent chance of being hit?

What you described sounds like a system casinos can use if they want to offer roulette and not have to have dealers operate the game. Each number on the wheel should be equally likely to be chosen. A random number generator is used to determine which pocket the ball will land in. As long as the payouts are the same as on the live roulette game, the house edge will be the same.

I don't recommend playing this type of roulette for one reason: With a computer handling all the functions, play will go much faster than at a live roulette table. Speed kills bankrolls in gambling. You'll tend to get more play time from your bankroll at the live roulette table.

The same thing happens with Baccarat versus Mini-Bac. You tend to lose more at Mini-Bac even though the rules are identical because the game goes so much faster than at the big table.

You can play the electronic roulette and be assured that you're facing the same odds as at the live table, but be aware that play will go faster and your bankroll may not last as long.


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