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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask the Slot Expert: Was I cheated by this slot machine?

21 October 2015

I recently played a 5-reel, 9-line Top Dollar machine. I played all nine lines and landed Top Dollar symbols in the top position on the first reel, the middle position on the second reel, and the top position on the third reel.

They told me I was not a winner. Are they right or are they wrong?

I believe that they rig the slots against me.

[Note: There was a picture of the results of the spin attached to the message.]

It can be very difficult to figure out the paylines on a multi-line slot machine, regardless of whether it's a video slot or a reel-spinning slot like the machine you played. Even though symbols land near each other on adjacent reels, those positions may not make up one of the paylines.

Each machine must show you the positions on each reel that make up each payline. You can go back to that machine and find the paylines on the glass or on one of the help screens. You'll see that the three positions on which the Top Dollar symbols landed are not part of a payline.

Finally, if you believe that the casinos are rigging the machines against you, don't play them.


I play the older version of the Willy Wonka slot machine. It is my favorite slot machine of all time!

Are there any suggestions that you can offer that will make the payout more profitable? I typically play the $3.50 max, but it takes at least $100 to "warm" the machine up. How do you know when the machine has paid out all it's going to pay in one sitting?

Also, my biggest issue is not knowing when to cash out my winnings. I always get tempted to hit that button one last time. I admit that I don't know when to walk away.

HELP!! I want to continue to play the Willy Wonka game but it has become an expensive form of entertainment. I would appreciate whatever advice you may have.

My mother was an elementary school librarian, so I grew up with Willy Wonka, only we knew the story as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, of course.

Your chances of hitting any winning combination are the same on every spin. If you kept track of your results, you'd find that sometimes the machine was "warm" before you'd played $100. The machine has never "paid out all it's going to pay," moreover, because the odds don't change from spin to spin.

Double-check the paytable on the machine. I believe that the only advantage you have for playing the max bet is to be eligible to hit the linked progressive in which the machine participates. Your chances of hitting that progressive are so low, I don't think it's worthwhile to make the max bet. Another reason to decrease your bet is that most slot directors order low long-term paybacks on their video slots, despite the fact that some of the machine have 50-cent or higher minimum bets and many players play more than the minimum. At $3.50 per spin, you should be receiving the payback of a dollar machine, but you're probably not getting anything near that payback.

Here are my suggestions: Stop playing the max bet. Either consistently play a smaller bet or alter your bet from spin to spin. You could start with a medium-sized bet and increase it if you're doing well and decrease it if you're not. You could also start with a medium-sized bet and go up one step with each winning spin; go back to the medium bet after a losing spin. You could also go from the minimum bet to the maximum bet, going up one step after each spin, and then turn around and go back down one step after each spin. The whole point of these little tricks is to keep from betting the maximum on every spin. Betting less will stretch your bankroll.

As for when you should walk away, there's no way to know when a hot machine will turn cold -- or a cold machine will turn hot. As I said before, the odds don't change. I suggest you stop playing when it's no longer fun, you've lost your allotted session bankroll or it's time to leave.

When you're tempted to hit the button one last time, really make it one last time. If you lose, walk away. If you win, keep playing until you have a losing spin and then walk away.


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