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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Why was I asked to play off a slot jackpot?

2 October 2013

I recently hit a jackpot, which was hand-paid. After I was paid, the guard and attendant said I had to play once in front of them. Why?

Congratulations on your jackpot.

Many (most? all?) slot players are superstitious. Some believe that a machine that has recently hit a jackpot will not hit another one soon, so they won't play a machine that has a jackpot showing on its reels. The attendant asked you to play off the jackpot so a different combination would appear on its reels.

There's no requirement that you play off a jackpot. You can refuse and then the casino will take some money from a fund and play a spin on the machine.

But there's no reason not to play a machine that is showing a jackpot. Your chances of hitting another one -- or any combination, for that matter -- are the same on every spin, regardless of whether the prior spin was a jackpot or a bust.

In fact, it doesn't happen often, but I have heard of players hitting another jackpot while playing off a jackpot.

Speaking of jackpots -- Jackpots for all,
John


Some slot bonuses require three symbols to appear in certain columns. For example, Pelican Pete and Fifty Lions require that the lighthouse and lotus flower, respectively, appear in columns 1, 2 and 3.

The first symbol, it seems, appears more often than the second. The third appears least frequently. Or do all three have equal chances of being bagged because winning combos are supposed to be attained randomly?

Thank you for your clear and patient replies to others, including the ones who challenge your advice, authority, and experience.

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

All three symbols do not have the same chance of appearing. It is very common for the symbol to appear most frequently on the first reel, a bit less frequently on the second, and then least frequently on the third. This way, your excitement can build as you hit one symbol, then maybe another and then maybe the third.

It's the same principle of having more blanks on the third reel than on the first two of a traditional reel-spinning machine. If a blank lands on the first reel, the game is over. But when you get a symbol on the first reel, and then another symbol on the second, you're still in the game until a blank lands on the third reel and dashes your hopes for moving into a higher tax bracket.

Finally, I want to point out one thing. Random does not mean equally likely. Say we have a bag with 10 ping pong balls, five red, three blue and two white. We will choose a ping pong ball randomly from the bag, note its color, and put it back in the bag (this is known as Sampling with Replacement). We can't tell one ping pong ball from another and we will close our eyes, so each ping pong ball is equally likely to be drawn. But each color is not equally likely to be drawn. We'll get a red ping pong ball half the time, a blue one 30 percent of the time and a white 20 percent of the time. Our drawing is random, but the colors are not equally likely.

The same thing happens in the slot machine. Each virtual slot on a reel is equally likely to be chosen, but because some symbols appear on more virtual stops than other symbols, they appear more frequently. The bonus symbol appears on the most virtual stops on the first reel, somewhat fewer on the second reel, and fewest of all on the third.

Jackpots for all,
John


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