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Decoding a slot machine's PAR sheet

29 March 2010

John,

Thanks for your last response. Since my last posting some things have sparked my interest some even more. The machine I referred to in my last post had been shut down in my last two visits to the casino, roughly a week. Just after that time I attended a sporting event with my casino host. I was assured by my host that the chip was the same. I actually never asked about it but the subject came up and the thought had crossed my mind.

Anyway, I was told that the slots manager was willing to show me the par sheet for that particular machine. I told my host that I would hold the casino to it. When I got home from the game I looked to see if I could find some sample par sheets. The only one I was able to find is located at http://rwatts.cdyn.com/download/8200%20bally.pdf.

My questions are in regards to reading this par sheet so that I can better understand the one for the machine I am playing. I am skeptical that I will actually get to see it. The sample I found is fairly easy to understand with the exception of a few items.

In the first table it's hard to follow what the "minus" column is tracking. Is this table an actual record of what the machine did, or is the table showing 100% payback and the rows with the "minus" how the manufacturer adjusted the machine to get 92.7% payback? Also the last table on the first page has a column labeled "P/H and Higher", any clue what that refers to?

Thanks for all the help,
Kris

Dear Kris,

A par sheet always describes how a machine is programmed and how it will perform in the long run. It is not a record of a machine's actual performance.

The heading on the par sheet says that the machine is a 2-coin (option) buy-a-pay with the third coin acting as a multiplier (2 COIN O.B.P. with 3CM). If you look at the chart underneath the heading on the first page, you'll see that the 7s combinations do not pay anything when you bet only one coin. The second coin buys those combinations.

The heading also says that the machine pays back 92.7% when played at max coin (3 coins) and 91.96% with played with min coin (1 coin).

Let's look at a row with a value in the minus column, A7-A7-A7, three any 7s. The Factors columns give the number of times the symbols in the Symbols column appear on each reel (R1, R2 and R3). The last chart, on page 2, shows how many times each symbol appear on each reel. Any 7 includes the Red 7 and Blazing Seven symbols, so there are 10 A7s on R1, 9 on R2 and 29 on R3. We can't just multiply these three numbers together to get the total number of ways to make Any 7s because the calculations include combinations of three Red 7s and three Blazing 7s -- those combinations pay more than Any 7s and have their own lines on the par sheet.

The par sheet says that there are 92 ways to make three Blazing 7s (B7-B7-B7) and 336 ways to make three Red 7s (R7-R7-R7). Add those two numbers together and you get 428, the number in the minus column on Any 7s line. The minus column is used to deduct higher-paying combinations that are included in the number in the Total Hits column. The result is in the Actual Hits column.

The middle chart on the first page shows how the statistics were calculated for each number of coins you can play. There are 373,248 possible combinations of virtual stops on the reels. Playing 3 coins at a time, there are 44,964 hits in those combinations. Divide 44,694 by 373,248 to get the Hit Frequency, 12.05%. To get the long-term payback, 92.7%, divide the amount won on those hits (Total Out, 1,038,054) by the amount total cost for all combination (Total In, 3 times 343,354 = 1,119,744).

P/H and Higher stands for Plays per Hit and Higher. The table says that, on the average, you will hit the jackpot (5000 coin payout) once every 93,312 plays. You'll hit 1000 coins or higher once every 3,888 plays. Jumping down a few lines, you'll hit 40 coins or higher once every 94 plays.

Par sheets from other companies look a bit different, but all par sheets have the same basic information.

I hope you're able to see the par sheet for your machine. I really don't know why these sheets are so closely guarded by casinos and manufacturers. I don't think there's anything on them that would make it easier to cheat a machine.

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