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Do Machines Pay Out Better at Different Times of Day?

4 June 2007

By John Robison

Hi, John,

Are there times of day a machine pays out better than others?

I saw someone writing down payout times during the day on a hot machine he was playing and he would sit out most of the day, keeping his chair reserved and not playing the machine. He was hitting an unusually high number of jackpots and playing very litle, 15-20 minutes during certain hours of the day.


Dear Mike,

A machine cannot be programmed to pay out better at certain times of the day. States require that the odds on each spin be the same, and that would not be possible if the machine paid out better at certain times.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Dear John,

I have been playing the new Bally roulette video game at a local Indian casino. I do not question the random number generator. However, having done some programming in the past, I know it is possible to put an algorithm in the game program that would demand a new random number if the current number would cause a large payout. Since this can happen in the "blink of an eye", what guarantee do we players have that the programming is inspected and fair?

I have more confidence in Nevada casinos; online and Indian casinos tend to scare me.


Dear JC,

Every state requires that the result determined by the RNG be displayed by the machine. So-called "secondary decisions" are not allowed.

Every state also requires that machines be tested to ensure that they operate properly and according to regulations. They either have their own testing labs or use Gaming Labs International. Only on rare occasions have things gotten by the labs.

When gaming labs test a machine, they have the ability to send the software in the machine a command to play a certain number of spins and send the results to a PC connected to the machine instead of spinning the reels. The lab can then analyze the results (many millions, perhaps) to ensure that combinations appear with the appropriate frequency.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,


How does this work?

A machine offers players three demominations, 25 cents, 50 cents and one dollar. Your machine gets hot and the RNG is picking winners. You want to maximize that occurence and move up from 25-cent play to 50 cents.

Does the program that picks the random numbers now change because I changed the denomination or does it stay the same for the 50-cent pulls as it did for the quarters?

Also would it be fair to assume better results playing at the 50-cent or dollar level with that machine versus the 25-cent level? (We are talking about single-line IGT machines.)

Warm regards,

There's no reason for anything to change about the RNG just because you changed denomination. The RNG is just the "raw material" for figuring out the game outcome.

As an analogy, the water company doesn't deliver different water to your house for cooking, drinking, cleaning, etc. It just provides water at a particular pressure. It's what you do with it in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room, kitchen that's different.

The RNG is the same thing. It's just a stream of numbers. We can use that stream to select cards or select stops. The same stream can be used for a quarter Double Diamond machine and for a $25 Double Diamond machine.

Now, it's possible that the RNG may get reseeded when you switch denominations. Reseeding just means that the RNG jumps to a different point in its sequence. Reseeding happens all the time while you're playing the machine, so it's not a concern.

As a general rule, 50-cent and dollar machines have higher long-term paybacks than quarter machines. In that respect, you'd have better results on the higher denomination machines.

But if you don't have the bankroll for the higher denomination machines and you run out of money, in that respect your results would not be better.

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 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