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Changing Bingo Cards on Class II Slots

22 May 2006

By John Robison


I live in Texas and play frequently at Windstar Casino, which is an Indian "Bingo" Casino. My question is in regards to the bingo card.

Have you any idea how to play the slots there and help increase our odds? We have been told several different ways to play. One being 4 spins with a Max bet. If you don't win, then you change the card to the next card and continue changing to the next card at each bet until you find the paying card. Another person told us to change the card after about 3 spins to the next card if it isn't paying then again give the card 3 to 4 spins and change if no win!

I see many people just changing to say the next 7-8th card after each spin even if they just had a win. So for me it is who knows. I do know that the answer lies in the bingo card. There was someone a while back from the Florida Indian Casinos who answered one of the questions placed here but not sure he will help on this one. The odds are not what they would be in Vegas but I can't run to Vegas each weekend and do enjoy playing but would also like to win some.


Dear Cindi,

Change the bingo card as frequently or as infrequently as you like. Changing the card has no effect whatsoever on your odds.

The only thing you can do to improve your odds on a slot machine is playing additional coins when those coins activate additional winning combinations or paylines or make you eligible for some bonus event. And keep in mind that many times the house edge does not go down enough to warrant the additional risk you have by playing the additional coins. (See The Best Number of Coins to Play on this site.)

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I am an AVID slot machine fanatic, however, I am less than lucky most of the time. I know they SAY that all machines are preset, that there is no such thing as hot or cold, or turned off, but how can the same people always be at the right machine at the right time and then those of us who always sit at the wrong machine or hit the button at the wrong time? I have sat next to people who go to the bonus (nickel machines) 15 times right next to me and I get nothing, nothing nothing. I have played quarter and dollar slots and walked away without as much as a quarter return on my money.

I get so aggravated and yet can't stay away. I have to believe some machines are turned ON and some are turned OFF at different times.

The other thing is, do you keep pumping money into ONE machine, hoping it will turn on, or move on? Sometimes I think I slot hop too much. I have played Wheel of Fortune for over $100 at one sitting and NEVER got a SPIN, while the people on both sides of me, went five and six times each.

Thank you.

Almost all slot players are less than lucky most of the time. Most slot-playing sessions end with a loss.

I'm not sure what they mean when they say that machines are preset. Each machine has a long-term payback that is determined by the layout of the symbols on the virtual reels, but that's the only thing that is preset. Machines have hot and cold streaks, but it is not predetermined when they will start and end. Nor is there any event that starts or ends a streak.

When we play the slots, we have some incredibly lucky sessions and some incredibly unlucky ones too. On a larger scale, some people are consistently luckier than others.

All results on a slot machine are random. So we see things like your dry spell of bonus rounds while others get them frequently. And we see incredibly lucky and incredibly unlucky people too. But these things aren't proof that machines are turned on or off. They're natural consequences of randomness.

There is no mathematical answer to your question abour whether you should slot hop. The odds don't change from spin to spin on a machine. The good things about switching machines, though, are that you get some exercize and your money is not at risk while you're looking for your next machine. If you get frustrated with a cold machine, then leave it. If you don't mind giving it a few more chances, then stay with it.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hi, John,

Love your articles and letters. Anyway, I have a couple of questions that have been bugging me since my last trip to Trump Marina in AC. I think it's a wellknown fact by now that the Marina has been advertising that their floor is littered with machines that are returning 95% or more and those machines are marked with a sign above each one.

One of my questions is, how can they have all of these machines that are paying back this much and not make the list for casinos with the highest paybacks in slots (Casino Player...April issue)?

Second question is, I noticed that most of the machines that are marked for a payback of over the 95% are video poker machines. Are they really proud that their video poker machines are paying back over 95%? If a poker machine's paytable is paying back less than that I believe it should be wrapped up and thrown in the ocean!

And lastly, with machines that butt up against each other back to back, I noticed that the signs on those machines might be unintentionally placed so that if you're not real careful you might think you're playing a machine with the high percentage payback but it's actually the machine that's directly opposite of yours.

Just some observations that I needed to air in public and what better way than to come to you.

Keep up the good work!!!


Dear John,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

First question: The paybacks listed in Casino Player are across all machines of a particular denomination. They take are affected by how much play each machine gets. So, a casino could have a lot of high-paying machines that get very little play and therefore have a mediocre to low overall payback for a denomination. It's also possible that the high-paying machines are affecting the overall payback and the other machines have really terrible paybacks.

Second question: I agree. A 95% payback for a video poker machine is nothing to be excited about. I think you've found the answer to your first question. The Marina has far more slots than video poker machines, and those slots get more play than the video poker machines. The overall percentage is closer to the average long-term payback of its slots than its video poker machines.

Last comment: Thanks for the warning. Make sure the sign is over the machine you want to play.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.

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