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Ask the Slot Expert: The last word on the bonus round on 88 Fortunes

11 November 2020

Question: On June 8th 2016 you wrote an article about 88 Fortunes and the gold coin bonuses. You said you were going to write the gaming commission in Nevada and the company that makes the game to ask them about the 12 coins and if there are three of each progressive prize (Mini, Minor, Major and Grand) underneath there all the time. You said you would let us know which came up with.

I'm just wondering if you ever got an answer back. I searched your archives and couldn't find an article relating to that and I know it's been a while since you wrote that I'm just wondering if you ever got an answer.

Answer: Let me start with who I did get a reply from. In addition to the manufacturer and Gaming Commission, I sent an email to a slot director acquaintance. The question was simple: Are there three coins for each progressive in the bonus round?

He replied that his understanding was that the progressive was chosen at random. He didn't answer the question directly, but his answer addressed the implication of the question. If the outcome is determined at random, it isn't determined by the player's choices.

I'm used to casino execs telling the truth, telling nothing but the truth, but not telling the whole truth. At one casino, you had to pick one of six (I think it was six) tiles at the kiosk to reveal your multiplier for the day. Time after time my friends and I almost always got a multiplier in the middle of the range and rarely got the max. We realized that we weren't getting the best multiplier often enough to have a one out of six chance at it.

I asked the slot director at the casino whether the different multipliers were weighted and not equally likely -- for which we had abundant empirical data. He said that the multiplier is chosen at random.

The truth, nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth. He didn't say that their system decides which multiplier you get and the system was less likely to choose the highest value than the lower values.

I didn't get a reply from either the manufacturer or the Gaming Commission about the bonus round in 88 Fortunes. I'm used to manufacturers ignoring my questions. In the last two decades as manufacturers have consolidated and grown bigger, they've gotten less responsive. I used to be able to exchange emails with or even meet in person with the heads of some gaming companies 20 years ago.

I'm not surprised that the Gaming Commission didn't reply. How the bonus works is not a regulatory question but a question about how a specific machine operates and it's not their place to discuss the inner workings of a specific machine.

Despite not getting an official answer, we know with 100% certainty that the bonus round does not have three coins for each progressive. First, there is abundant anecdotal evidence that players get the Mini much more frequently and the Grand much less frequently than if there were a 1 in 4 chance at each progressive.

And second, newer games with the same bonus round have this disclaimer that only a lawyer could love on the help screen for their bonus rounds: Player interaction during the bonus is for entertainment purposes only.

In other words, your choices during the bonus has no effect on the progressive you'll win. The machine has already chosen your progressive (probably the Mini, sometimes the Minor, occasionally the Major, and rarely -- very rarely, but not never -- the Grand). The machine then puts two each of the progressives you won't win on the screen, and then fills the screen with progressive you will win.

The coins you choose have no effect on what you win. Your choices only determine how quickly the inevitable conclusion is revealed.

Is the bonus round deceptive? Yes. But it doesn't violate any regulations. Players don't make wagers based on the bonus round. Operations that would not be allowed on a base game are allowed on a bonus round. The player can only win (alright, there are some rare bonus rounds in which the player might not win anything). To quote Homer Simpson, "Woohoo! I can't lose!"


Here are the latest figures from https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases.

Totals Weekly Increases
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Deaths Cases Deaths Cases Deaths Cases Deaths
 11/10   10,036,463   237,731   110,982   1,852   767,645   6,838   8,868   68 
 11/03   9,268,818   230,893   102,114   1,784   588,207   5,809   5,936   35 
 10/27   8,680,611   225,084   96,178   1,749   492,026   5,585   5,238   (10) 
 10/20   8,188,585   219,499   90,940   1,759   401,037   5,053   4,501   48 
 10/13   7,787,548   214,446   86,439   1,711   351,270   4,886   3,910   48 
 10/06   7,436,278   209,560   82,529   1,663   306,965   4,962   3,232   36 
 09/29   7,129,313   204,598   79,297   1,627   303,616   5,136   3,058   54 
 09/22   6,825,697   199,462   76,239   1,573   288,070   5,370   2,196   82 
 09/15   6,537,627   194,092   72,043   1,491   250,265   5,404   1,825   65 
 09/08   6,287,362   188,688   72,218   1,426   282,919   5,638   2,734   92 
 09/01   6,004,443   183,050   69,484   1,334   251,790   5,291   3,237   104 
 08/25   5,752,653   177,759   66,247   1,230   330,411   7,889   4,076   125 
 08/18   5,422,242   169,870   62,171   1,105   358,071   7,463   4,973   114 
 08/11   5,064,171   162,407   57,198   991   365,353   7,203   5,776   117 
 08/04   4,698,818   155,204   51,422   874   418,683   7,532   7,367   109 
 07/28   4,280,135   147,672   44,055   764   460,996   7,042   7,130   91 
 07/21   3,819,139  140,630  36,195  674  463,682  5,395  8,181  57 
 07/14   3,355,457   135,235   28,744   617   422,861   5,102   5,607   57 
 07/07   2,932,596   130,133   23,137   560   351,367   3,394   5,006   24 
 06/30   2,581,229   126,739   18,131   536   278,941   6,406   4,367   26 
 06/23   2,302,288   120,333   13,764   510 

Cases have been surging the past few weeks. Vice President Mike Pence finally called another meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force for November 9, its first meeting since October 20, possibly to coincide with President-Elect Biden's announcement of his Coronavirus Task Force. The meeting adjourned with no indication of when the task force would meet again and Pence ready to hunker down and do the hard work of going on vacation -- until it was announced the next day that his vacation was canceled.

No reason was given, but it's probably bad optics for the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to go on vacation the same day the U.S. reports an all-time high for Covid-19 hospitalizations.

Meanwhile President-Elect Biden introduced the members of his Coronavirus Task Force, physicians and health experts all, and urged us to follow the recommendations that the few scientists on the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been giving for months -- wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings, and wash our hands often.

Leadership on controlling the virus has shifted from Washington to Wilmington.


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