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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: The person who pushes the Spin button doesn't always get paid a slot jackpot

30 October 2019

Question: In your reply to my question last week, you said that you had to bet the max ($8.88) on Dancing Drums to qualify for the Grand jackpot. I was betting $0.88 and was awarded the Grand jackpot.

Answer: You're right. I misspoke (mistyped?). I should have said that you have to bet the max gold symbols to qualify for the Grand jackpot. That's a minimum bet of $0.88 rising to a maximum of $8.80.

Be careful with machines that have multi-level progressives. On some of them all progressives are available at all bets. On others, like Dancing Drums, you have to bet more than the minimum to qualify for the upper progressives.


Question: Just read about the person who played with someone else's players card. Would he keep the jackpot? You answered yes, he pressed the button.

Now this is what happened to me. I was playing two machines. I was seated at the one on the left. The right-hand machine was the end machine and there was an aisle with people walking by. A man came over and started pushing the play button. I was very upset and told him to move or else security would tell him. There was no payoff on that machine so this question is hypothetical. What if the machine hit a jackpot? Could that man claim he pressed the button therefore it is his?

(By the way, I now never have the unseated machine on the aisle. A lesson learned.)

Answer: Years ago -- and you can tell that this occurred to me many, many years ago because it involves coins -- I was playing at Treasure Island. It had placed machines just outside the casino proper in the big hallway from the parking garage. The slot director was apparently trying to go for the slot manufacturer display floor look because every time I left coin buckets out in the open or on top of a slant-top machine, an employee would put the cups between machines or some other place so they weren't out on display. Consequently there were no coin buckets on the slant-top machines at the end of the hallway. I was ready to cash out, but I had to go about 20 feet into the casino to get one of the buckets sitting between two upright machines in a carousel.

In the five seconds it took me to get the bucket, someone walking in from the garage saw the credits on my machine and was about to sit down at it. Fortunately I was able to shoo him away without incident.

Your situation is different from the playing on someone else's card situation. First let's look at where the person who hit the button rule arose.

Two people have pooled their money to play a machine. They win a jackpot on one spin. One of the players says he should get half of the money. The casino says that it has no idea what sort of financial arrangement the players may have had. The only thing it knows for sure is who pressend the Spin button and that person is the one the casino considers to be the owner of the jackpot. The players will have to work out splitting the money on their own.

In your case, the abandoned credits rule applies. The finder is not only not entitled to the credits on the machine, he therefore is also not entitled to anything won from those credits. Come to think of it, abandoned credits isn't really the right term because you didn't abandon the credits -- you were playing at the next machine. Credit theft is more accurate.

The man could have claimed that the jackpot was his, but I'm sure you would have told the floorperson what had happened. A review of the surveillance footage would show that you were playing both machines and that he never put any money into the machine. We don't have the situation where another party claims to have given the button pusher money.

What I find unbelievable is that this guy did what he did while you were right there. If I saw credits on a vacant machine next to someone, I would assume that the player was playing both machines, especially if there was a players card in the machine. If I wanted to cash out or play off the credits -- which I wouldn't want to do -- I would at least ask the person if the credits were his.

It's amazing how brazen some people can be, especially when what they're doing is just barely on the wrong side of the ethical line. It's not unusual for someone to pick up another's free play, for instance, when that person is away or otherwise unable to pick up the free play before it expires.

As long as you don't need to show ID, one player another happens all the time. I saw an instance of this a few days ago that was so blatant and so obvious that I thought that the guy doing it should have at least made a token effort to hide his actions.

This month Red Rock has a promotion for Chairman and President level players. You can play a Monopoly game on some special promotions machines. You can play up to three times a day. Your running score is the total of your top five Monopoly sessions. The 50 players with the highest running scores at each card level win prizes.

I guess the guy playing next to me was the DP (designated player) for his group for that day. He had a stack of cards in his hand. After he was finished a Monopoly session for one card, he swiped the next card to play again. I had to wait a little while for my turn to play on one of the five promotions machines, so I was able to see him play on at least two cards. I thought he should do just one card at a time, go for a lap around the casino and wait for the players to turn over so no one would see him playing on two cards in a row.


I was helping someone play NSU Deuces a few days ago and she was dealt an unsuited 34568. I said that this was an interesting hand because, unlike in a game without wild cards, it doesn't matter whether you hold the 3456 or the 4568.

"Isn't it better to hold the outside straight?" she asked.

I said that we should look at the cards that will help us in each situation.

If we hold the 3456, we can use one of the four 7s to complete the straight on the upper end or one of the four deuces to complete the straight on the lower end (or upper end, depending on whether you want to consider the deuce a 2 or a wild card).

If we hold the 4568, we need a 7 to complete the straight. There are four 7s in the pack, plus there are four deuces that can substitute for the 7.

In both cases, the same number of cards (and even the exact same cards) give you a straight, so the two hands have the same expected value and it doesn't matter which set of four cards you hold.

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