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Best of John Robison

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Dad's 22 royals: Luck or what?

3 December 2007

John,

Is it possible that the slots and poker machines can be tightened up?

At Seneca Allegany, I used to hit very often. Since the new hotel and casino were built, I can hardly win 25 coins. What do you think?

My dad has had 22 royal flushes. Is this just luck or is it the way he plays?

Roberta

Dear Roberta,

Yes, machines can be altered. Casinos can replace chips in a slot machine so the machine has a different virtual reel layout. The new layout might have a different hit frequency or long-term payback than the old layout. On video poker machines, the only thing the casino can do is change the paytable.

In practice, casinos rarely change paybacks on their machines. If a casino wants to change the paybacks on its floor, it usually does it over time as old machines are retired and new ones take their places.

It's possible that your casino changed paybacks on its machines, but not likely. It's much more likely that you're just having a run of bad luck. If you're playing new machines, it's possible that the casino ordered machines with lower hit frequencies or long-term paybacks than the old machines.

Congratulations to your dad on his 22 royal flushes. Using the rough estimate of 1 royal per 40,000 hands, we would expect him to have played about 880,000 hands. I don't know how much your father plays, but that's a lot of hands.

The rough estimate is really just an average. Some players will hit more royals than we expect them to hit after a certain number of hands, others fewer.

Your dad's results can be due to luck, the way he plays, or both. Some players, instead of using a proper strategy, use one that maximizes royals. In the short run, they may win more money than someone following a proper strategy, but in the long run their lower long-term payback will catch up with them and they will have done worse than the strategy player.

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 reply to every question.

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