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Ask the Slot Expert: Westgate does right for canceled slot tournament

12 June 2019

It's 8 o'clock Saturday morning at the Westgate. The promotions staff is setting up for the VIP slot tournament beginning at 10 a.m. that day. The machines used in the tournament are special IGT machines that are usually regular slot-floor machines but can be reconfigured as tournament machines using the tournament server to which they are all connected. The switchover from game mode to tournament mode went off without a hitch the prior evening for the optional bonus round, so the staff did not expect any problems this morning. Two hours should be plenty of time to convert the machines to tournament mode and get everything set up for the tournament.

Murphy paid a visit to the Westgate that morning. There was a problem with the tournament server and they were not able to reconfigure the machines. They even called in a friend of mine, who is a slot supervisor, on his day off to see if he could get the system working.

Nothing worked. They had to cancel the tournament.

According to the tournament rules, the casino could simply cancel the tournament in case of technical difficulties. Rather than leaving the participants high and dry, the Westgate put together a consolation package. Each registrant received $100 in free slot play and two brunch buffets. The staff also put all of the participants' names in a drum and drew five names for the top five prizes in the tournament. In addition, each player will receive a letter with a special offer from the General Manager.

All in all, I think the Westgate put together a good consolation package for the tournament participants.


Question: I want to tell you about a big win on a Double Super Times Pay machine. My wife and I were at a Pennsylvania casino. My wife plays the Double Super Times bonus machine. She was playing for 25 cents and always plays the max.

She hit the max bet button and got a 10x multiplier. She was dealt a royal. That's $10,000 per line — $30,000.

But wait! There's more.

She hit the stay button and got a multiplier for the draw — another 10x. That's $20,000 per hand for a total of $60,000!

I usually play dollars. That would have been $240,000 to me!

Needless to say we were so excited.

Answer: I bet you were excited. That's quite a win. That even beats the $50,000+ recently won for a sequential royal on a $5 machine at Red Rock.

Every time (twice) that I've been dealt a royal, the machine immediately held all the cards and started paying off the hand. Both times were on a quarter machine. One was a single-hand machine, so there was no need for a tax form. The other was a ten-play. After adding 40,000 credits to my meter, that machine locked up. I thought it was nice that the machines didn't give me the opportunity to do something stupid.

It's interesting in your wife's case that there was still an element of the hand that had to be decided, the draw multiplier, so the machine couldn't lock up after dealing the royal. I know that I would check, double-check and triple-check that I had held all five cards before hitting the Draw button.

Just today I had an instance in which I hit the Draw button a fraction of a second before I noticed that one of the cards I had held didn't hold. It was on a bartop machine, which I know many players avoid because they get more drinks spilled on them than slant-top or upright machines. Worse, this machine had the old-style buttons with less throw than the new, larger button. I can play chords on the newer buttons and hold two cards at once, but I have to hit each old-style button individually.

I was playing Deuces Wild and got a deuce on the draw. I probably would have had a three-of-kind had that second card held as I had intended. Because it was just a push I missed out on, I didn't bother calling over a slot floorperson to see if I could get paid anyway.

A few days ago, I noticed that the candle was flashing on the machine a man was playing next to me and he was no longer playing. I mind my own business, but the busybody in me was dying to know what he had hit. I took a quick glance over and didn't see any of the usual messages indicating that a machine had locked up. Plus, there was no jackpot music. I noticed that he was playing nickels and I don't think there's any nickel paytable that pays a taxable jackpot on this bank of machines.

It turns out that he had hit his Service button. He was dealt two pair and held the four cards, but somehow one of the cards didn't hold.

The slot floorperson who initially responded to his request paged one of the supervisors. When he got there, they pulled up the hand history and verified that he was dealt the two pair, but only three cards were held. They then pulled up the bottom press log to see if the machine had registered his pressing of the button.

The only thing I understood on that screen was the title, so I don't know if they determined that he had hit the button but the machine didn't register it (as had happened to me today) or, worst case, the machine registered the button press but did not hold the card.

In any case, the supervisor filled out some paperwork and the slot floorperson gave him $6 for the two pair.

As long as we were talking about machines locking up, I had a strange experience with a hand pay today. I had hit four deuces playing Deuces Wild and some other good hands and had a ticket for $1,600. I put it into a slot machine and played for a while. After I had finally hit the bonus round, I played another spin and cashed out $1,550.

The machine locked up and requested a hand pay. This isn't taxable, I thought. I didn't win anything. I hope I don't have a problem.

The slot floorperson that responded asked me what I had hit. I said, "Cash Out." I told her that I had put $1,600 into the machine. She verified with me that I didn't hit a taxable jackpot. It didn't hurt that I had played off the reel combo that had triggered the bonus round and now had lots of blanks on the paylines (it was a reel-spinner).

A few minutes later she came back with a supervisor to verify the payment and gave me money. No problems with not getting a tax form, though I used to hear horror stories from readers getting tax forms for just cashing out $1,200 in jurisdictions that were just starting out with casinos.


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