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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Dealing video poker

21 April 2007

Hi,

Video poker rookie here. When dealt five cards in video poker, are these five cards backed up with draw cards, one behind each card dealt, or are the draw cards taken from the "top of the deck"? If off the top of the deck, is the deck being shuffled while we make our choice?

Thank you,
Russell

Dear Russell,

Video poker machines used to select the five deal cards and the five draw cards when you started a game, but no longer. The standard for the last five or so years is for the machine to select the five cards for the deal and then select the replacement cards only when the player hits the Draw button. The RNG continues to run while the player decides which cards to hold, in effect shuffling the deck while the player makes his or her decision.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John,

I just purchased a Williams 19" slant top "Reel Em In" video slot machine. The monitor is in great shape with no burn in. My only concern is that I notice there is no screen saver on this game. If I leave this game on in my gameroom, my fear is that I will get a burn in on the screen.

Can a screen saver program be added to this Williams game? This slot was manufactured in 1997.

Thank you,
Ken

Dear Ken,

A slot machine isn't an open system like a PC, on which you can install new software. I don't think you can just "add" a screen saver to it.

You can contact WMS Gaming to see if they have a software update to address burn-in issues.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I have been playing slots for years here in Lugano, Switzerland. I conducted an experiment over the course of several months to determine if in fact slots do get tightened over the weekend.

I played the minimum amount necessary to make the wheels spin on a 9-coin machine. With one coin I was able to win on the center line if it hit. But what I did is I watched for winning combinations for all lines. Occasionally I even won on the center line. Enough so that I only lost about 30 to 40 Swiss francs if I did indeed lose.

I found that the percentage of winning combinations per 100 spins was approx. 3 times improved if you went any time of the day on a weekday than if you went on Friday night, Saturday all day or Sunday all day. During those weekend time slots (hee hee) folks just feed the machines and never hit much of anything. Often I would play a machine for one credit at a time for 50 spins and not hit more than 2 or 3 winning combinations paying only 2 to 3 credits during the weekend and absolutely no bonus rounds at all. During the weekdays, I would try the same strategy and would hit several combinations paying the same credits during the same number of spins, and the bonus round would come up at least twice during 50 spins.

It's a small casino and so I played all machines of the same theme. Also, they close at 4 a.m. to clean and prepare for the next day's guests, so they do have an opportunity to do whatever it would take to decrease payout.

I am sure Switzerland has a gaming commission, but I am not so sure how they regulate gaming here. They may even turn a blind eye. The machines, however, are the same you'd find in U.S. casinos, so maybe the they operate the same way and I do NOT know what I am talking about. But then why do casinos advertise "Loosest Slots in Town!" if they cannot affect the payout frequency?

I may be talking out of my hat, but my experiment taught me to avoid THIS casino on the weekends. If I go, I go only during the evenings during the week. So far these past two months I am up about $700 per month from my little strategy.

I think you have to take your experiment one step further and look to see if the probability of landing any particular symbol on any reel changes from weekend to weekday. Winning combinations are more volatile and requires more observations.

I have a hard time believing that the hit frequency on the machines is three times higher during the week. I've never seen a game that has such a wide range of hit frequencies available for it.

In any case, casinos can "affect" the long-term payback and hit frequencies of their machines by ordering different payback programs (virtual reel layouts) for them. If a casino orders the highest-paying paybacks for its machines, then it has the loosest slots in town.

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