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Best of John Robison

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Does a slot machine's pause affect the RNG?

16 November 2009

Hey John,

This is your avid reader from SLC who visits Wendover and Las Vegas. Always looking for an edge. I had asked a similar question some time ago about the pause that occurs during regular play with many machines and your response was the same at that time. The machine is storing information so info is not lost. For me it is most noticeable when playing electronic keno machines.

If the slot machine temporarily pauses regular play to store information, does that affect the random number generator's normal function of spilling out numbers and could this ultimately effect the outcome of a bet? If play had resumed without a "storage" interruption, would a different set of RNG outcomes set the reel (or keno number positions) at that moment? I only ask in that random opportunities exist throughout the RNG continuum and certain random opportunities may be "lost." My random big moment may have been lost while the machine does housekeeping.

I would like to think the "pause" the machine does automatically is no different than the pause I create between each press of the button, but I would like to have your expertise on this. If the RNG continues to spew out numbers during the storage function, I may be missing an opportunity -- if it stops relative to storage and restarts, in the world of numbers, it would definitely affect outcomes as the number of possible combinations is temporarily interrupted and not free flowing.

I hope this is not too esoteric. I like to think about what is going on inside the machine as I play -- any clarification helps. I continue to enjoy your column and always look forward to new information. As a side note: I was in Las Vegas this past weekend and watched a man and spouse play the $2,000 slot in the Bellagio -- he hit three unlike bars on the payline it paid $20,000 (or close). Watching always makes me wonder what people do for a living . . .

Duane

Dear Duane,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

The last time I played the $2,000 slot at Bellagio -- Who am I trying to kid? I rarely win $2,000 on a spin, let alone bet $2,000 on a spin. It must be nice to have that much disposable income.

As for whether the RNG continues to generate numbers during the "pause," it doesn't matter. Consider the following situation.

Let's take a deck of cards. I'll continuously cut the deck. Whenever you feel like it, you ask me to stop and reveal the card on the top of the deck. You're looking for the ace of diamonds.

There will be some times when the ace of diamonds is on the top of the deck and you don't tell me to stop. You could consider that time a lost opportunity, but you didn't know it existed at the time. The next time you ask me to stop, your chances are still 1 out of 52 that the top card is the ace of diamonds.

On a slot or keno machine, your chances for hitting any winning combination are the same on every play. It doesn't matter whether the RNG stops during the pause. It doesn't matter if the RNG generates a jackpot combination during the pause.

To answer your questions: Yes, the pause could affect the outcome. But the new outcome won't necessarily be any better or worse than the unaffected outcome. Your chances are still the same on each play.

You are absolutely correct when you say that the pause is the same as your own pause. When you pause, you get a different outcome on your next play than if you hadn't paused. But, like I said before, the new outcome won't necessarily be better or worse.

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