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Cell Phones and Slots

26 January 2004

By John Robison

Do you know where I can purchase the Action Play Tracker Cards?


Dear Michael,


16 Pebble Lane
Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002

I found this info at

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Recently while playing slots at a local Indian casino in Cherokee, North Carolina, I was sitting at the machine and talking on my cell phone while playing. A casino employee told me that I could not talk on my cell phone while playing because it "interferes with the machine." I've been to quite a few casinos, from Las Vegas to Biloxi, and never had anyone say this to me before.

Is this true? And if so, how can the cell phone interfere?

Thank you,

Dear Joan,

I've never heard of a cell phone interfering with a slot machine, but I have heard of RF interference from other devices causing problems with slots.

It's also possible that the casino has banned the use of cell phones while playing games because some cheating rings have used the cell phones to run their scams.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I love your newsletter. I am a gambler in Iowa and we are going to Vegas for the races the first part of March. We are staying downtown and where is the best place to play the nickels? I love any and all of these slots.

Thank you,

Dear Martha,

Thanks for the kind words about the newsletter.

It's tough to say which casino is "best" because I don't know what you mean by the word? Best selection? Most new games? Best paybacks? Best overall casino?

Let me recommend the two casinos I like best downtown. No one beats the Golden Nugget for class downtown. Another nice casino is Main Street Station and, according to friends who go to this casino frequently, it's the best casino for ambience and good games downtown.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hello John,

My wife and I both enjoy your newsletters and the information has been helpful.

People often write to ask about the ability casinos have to change how the slot machines are paying out.

We were at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant last Friday and I asked a slot attendant if she had any tips on what was paying out that night. She said the $25 slot machines were going crazy and she had made several hand payouts, the last being over $5,000.

We thanked her, but we aren't quite ready to venture into the high-roller area yet, so we kept on playing our usual slots. Then, about 2 hours later we decided to go over to the $25 slots and see what they were doing. To our amazement, 5 of the 12 machines had hand payouts on them and one of them hit twice in the ten minutes we were there.

This is not possible over a three-hour period of time and so few machines all in the same area unless they were "turned on". Calculate the probability of this happening and if it's random, we witnessed something akin to 5 to 10 lotto winners all at the same place and same time.

We walked by to check them out the next time we visited and no one was even playing them.

So much for randomness!

Best Regards,

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the kind words about the newsletters.

Why do you say that it's not possible for five of 12 $25 machines to be locked-up at the same time? High denomination machines tend to have a lot of lock-ups because of the W-2Gs that need to be created. And it sounds like the machines were getting a lot of play that night, so one would expect to see a lot of lock-ups.

I don't know the probabilities on the machines you watched, but I'm sure it's much more likely to get a lock-up on one of those machines than to hit the lotto. What you witnessed was far more likely to happen than your lotto winner example.

Let's say the casino could "turn on" machines. Why would they "turn on" high-denomination machines that are in an isolated area of the casino and on which they could stand to lose a lot of money?

Wouldn't it make more sense for a casino to "turn on" a dollar or quarter bank of machines that is right in the middle of the slot floor, that won't cost it a lot of money, and that will be seen by a lot of other players and will get them excited to play?

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Can you recommend the best casino to play slot machines at in Atlantic City?

Thank you,

Dear Jim,

It's tough to answer your question because I don't know what you really mean by "best." Best paybacks? Best slot club? Best overall casino?

I like the Borgata because it has wholeheartedly embraced tickets. I like the Wild Wild West casino for its ambience. I like the Sands because its slot club has same-day cashback. I like the selection at Tropicana.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at

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