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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Does the amount bet on a slot machine affect the results?

24 March 2007

Hi, John,

On a recent trip to Bossier City, La. I saw a new (to me anyway) slot machine. This particular machine was a penny machine and had multiple lines, but only had 3 bet buttons. If you only played the lowest (30 cents), only some lines would pay no matter what you hit. If you bet the next level, (60 cents, all lines) more payouts. If you bet the third (90 cents, all lines) you could hit anything that would pay. This machine was definitely based on the bet in regards to what you were paid. I hit 5 red sevens on the payline betting one per line and did not get paid. When I asked, they told me to get payment for that combination, I would have had to have bet max.

Is this the wave of the future? I know in the past, you have said that amount bet has nothing to do with RNG and payouts, but this machine definitely didn't pay unless the "proper" amounts were bet. I can only assume that it was still random since I hit the 5 sevens. Lesson learned.

Sharon

Dear Sharon,

I never said the amount bet has nothing to do with payouts. I did say that the number of coins played has no effect on the RNG or the outcome. I almost included a clarification of this statement in an answer in my 3/19/07 column, but I left it out because my answer was already fairly long. Let me clarify it now.

When I refer to the result or outcome of a spin, I'm specifically referring to the symbols that land on the payline — not the amount won on the spin.

Clearly, the amount you win is directly related to the amount you bet. Your bet does affect the amount you win.

But the symbols that land on the payline are not affected by your bet. Your chances of getting any particular set of symbols on the payline are the same regardless of how much you bet, regardless of whether you bet enough to buy the combination, regardless of whether or not it's a paying combination.

The paytable on the machine you played seems to be a combination of a multi-coin/multi-line and a buy-a-pay. In addition to activating more paylines, additional coins bet also activated more winning combinations.

I believe there will be a simplification of multi-line/multi-coin machines in the future. A machine may have 100 paylines, but there's no need for the player to be able to bet every number of paylines from 1 to 100. Sometimes too much flexibility leads to complexity. In addition, I think we'll see more low-denomination machines with a minimum bet higher than one coin on one line.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, John,

I love reading your column every week. I know you answer questions in regards to random events on a slot machine. Well, I have a question.

I live near the Philadelphia and I frequent Atlantic City all the time and I also go to the Pennsylvania casinos as well. I want to know how can they (the casinos) predict how much they should make from a slot machine on a daily basis if everything random? They will say, for example: We will keep $386 from a slot machine every day and the rest will be paid to the customer. That doesn't say random to me.

Am I wrong?

In a word, yes. You are wrong.

The only thing random on a slot machine is the combination of symbols that will land on the payline next. We know quite a bit about other aspects of the machine.

Consider throwing a pair of fair dice. I don't know what you'll throw next, but I know that the more times you throw the dice, the closer a histogram of your results will come to the pyramid of craps.

We don't know what combination of symbols will land on a slot machine's payline next, but we know the probabilities of all the winning combinations. (OK, the players don't know, but the casino knows.) With the probabilities and the values of the winning combinations, we can calculate a machine's long-term payback. With the long-term payback and the average amount of money played through a machine each day, we can calculate the average amount of money won by the casino and won by the players each day.

If a casino made the exact statement you said, it erred in being so specific. We can't specify the exact amount of money a slot will win for a specific amount of action because the results are random. It may get tedious at times, but we should always qualify numbers with "on the average" or "in the long run" and the like when required.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Do you need a social security card with you or will the social security number be OK if you hit a jackpot in Las Vegas?

Thanks,
Angela

Dear Angela,

I'm sorry (really sorry) to say that it has been quite a while (pre 9/11/01) since I've hit a jackpot in Las Vegas that required tax paperwork, so the requirements may be stricter now.

I've never been asked for nor shown my social security card at a casino. In fact, I can't show the card because I have no idea where it is. All I needed to show was some sort of ID and give the floorperson my number.

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