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Best of John Robison

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Changing Chips in Slots

26 July 2004

Hello,

Just wondering if you can tell me where to find slot machine game like Money to Burn, Cash Crop, and Leprechaun's Gold for the PC.

Thanks,
Troy

Dear Troy,

You can find a list of the CDs that have casinos slot games for home use in my column entitled Atlantic City Joker Poker, posted about a week ago.

As far as I know, none of WMS Gaming's machines, including those you asked about, are available for home play.

The best way to see what's available is to look at the software offerings at www.greatstuff4gamblers.com or at a major retailer, like Best Buy or CompUSA.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi,

I'm trying to find out how and where to play The Price is Right online. Can you help me?

In a past column, I published letters from two readers about playing The Price is Right online. They found it at gamesville.lycos.com and www.skybetvegas.com.

Let me take this opportunity to point out the search feature that is available at this site. You enter a word or phrase in the search box and you'll get back a list of all the articles with that word or phrase. You can even tell the system to look for articles by one author or by all authors. You might find that someone else has already asked your question and you'll be able to get an answer right away.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


My wife and I love the Boom machines (for obvious reasons).

Can you give me a site that tracks the Williams X-Factors or Booms? Their locations?

Overseas?

Regards,
Ed

Dear Ed,

I'm sorry, I can't give you any site that lists which casinos have certain slot machines.

There are so many different slot machines, and so many slot machines in a casino, and casinos change their slots around so frequently, it would be nearly impossible to keep such a site up to date. In addition, I think such a site would not be economically viable because not many slot players would visit the site.

You can't even go to the manufacturers to find out if a certain casino has your favorite machine. Most of the "Where to Play" pages are not game specific and have degenerated into listings of the casinos in a particular area because almost every casino has or has had at least one game from every manufacturer at some point in time.

Your best bet is to call the casino directly and ask if they have the game you want to play.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John:

I read your articles regularly, and have noticed that recently many players are asking questions that pertain to randomness, frequency, similarity, etc. You responded, in part, to a recent question as follows:

Banks of machines--and even occasionally whole areas of a casino--will go hot with machines hitting frequently. It certainly does appear as if the slot director has thrown a switch to make all these machines pay off at once.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The only way a casino can change the hit frequency or payback on a machine is to change a chip in the machine.

My question relates to "chip changing" and what it would entail to accomplish. Is it costly, is it easily done, is it regulated?

I have some knowledge of the inner workings of a computer, and in my mind I could envision a "tech person" opening a machine, pulling the currently installed chip(s), and inserting a different version (one that pays more or less than the one just removed), and re-booting the machine. Thus in a matter of minutes the machine now has an entirely new "modus operandi".

If I'm close with the above scenario, why then would your statement that the only way to alter machines is to change the chip be implied as something that can't or wouldn't be done?

Regards,
bobC

Dear bobC,

The answers to your questions are: Yes, yes, yes, and see the answers to the first three questions. Next.

Okay, I'll add in a few details.

A new chipset is fairly expensive. I haven't checked this out myself, but my colleague Frank Legato, if I remember correctly, said that a new payback chipset for a machine runs about $1,000. Of course, the chip itself is not expensive. It's the Intellectual Property contained in it that gives it value.

Swapping chips is no more difficult than the procedure you described. Some jurisdictions add in their own wrinkles such as sealing the logic drawer with evidence tape, having someone from the local gaming comission witness the swap, or even requiring that a gaming commission member perform the swap. In any case, the state wants to know that a machine's payback has been changed, so there's some paperwork to be filed.

So, to answer your last question, casinos don't change paybacks frequently because of the costs involved in doing so.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear Sir,

Since payback of a US-regulated slot machine must a minimum percentage payback requirement, would it not be possible that a machine would be more likely to hit if you played it while it was behind in its payout schedule?

Wouldn't the RNG be seeing more frequent winning combinations in attempts to balance itself out?

Theoretically, you would have to get to know a single machine's behaviour as to jackpot frequency as well as how much has gone in while cold, but isn't that an edge that observant casino employees might be privy too?

Sincerely,
Clint

Dear Clint,

What you describe is known as The Gambler's Fallacy, that a game has to somehow right itself to keep within some parameters. For example, a coin that has just landed on heads 75% of the time must now favor tails to get its numbers back in balance.

The RNG generates numbers. It is not affected by what the results of those numbers are. The RNG does not know or care whether the machine is ahead or behind in its payout schedule.

Speaking of being ahead or behind, consider this. A 95% machine has had 1,000,000 spins played on it. Let's say it's a four-coin quarter machine because that keeps the math easy. This machine just happens to have paid back 95% of the money played through it, or $950,000.

You sit down at this machine to play and Lady Luck really smiles on you. You hit back-to-back jackpots for $1,000 each. Surely, this machine must go into a prolonged take cycle to get its payback back near 95%, right?

Well, what is the machine's actual payback now? It's had $1,000,002 played through it and it has paid back $952,000, for a payback of 95.2%. There's not much to correct, is there?

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. 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 two or more 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
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