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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Does the number of coins I play affect the outcome?

10 September 2007

From the middle of March till the end of March I was hitting quite often on the slots. Then after the first of April they went very cold and I was hitting nothing at all. Thinking as an accountant I think they had to have their first quarter of the year at a certain level. Then when the second quarter started they could then work on their profits till the end of the quarter. Am I right on this logic?

Thank you,
Fran

Dear Fran,

Let me ask you this question: Why would a casino want to limit its profits? (OK, there have been some bizarre tax situations in the past in which a casino's tax rate skyrockets if its profits go above a certain level - but I don't know that the state that had this formula still has it or if you are in that state.)

The situation will change when slot machines that support downloadable games are widespread, but today changing the hit frequency or long-term payback on a machine is time-consuming process that requires changing one or more chips in the machine. And in some jurisdictions, the casinos themselves are not allowed to make the change and a representative from the gaming commission must do it.

Your e-mail was dated April 25, so you've probably been to this casino only a few times since your hot streak. Slots are so volatile, you can't use a few visits to draw any conclusions.

Finally, I think you might be comparing two extremes. You were very lucky in March and very unlucky in April. That's just the way it goes with slots. Sometimes you're hot. Sometimes you're cold. Sometimes you're neither. It's all random.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


My husband and I have a disagreement regarding a 5-line Double Triple Dollar slot machine that I play. I like to bounce around playing between 1 to 5 lines. Mostly I'll hit a Double Triple and 7 on playing 3. However, occasionally I'll see the big hit appear on a line that I haven't covered. My husband seems to think the spin changes based on the amount of money played. I say it's still a random number generated and that's part of the adrenaline rush I get from knowing I may or may not hit the big one. Are the numbers that appear on each line based on amount played or random generated?

The amount you play has no effect on the outcome. The RNG function doesn't know or care how many coins or how many lines you played. The result of a spin is determined at random without regard for what has happened in the past or what is happening in the present. Machines do not intentionally land big hits on lines you haven't covered.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

A perplexing situation occurred while playing the multi-denominational 3-reel slots. The machines allow quarters, fifty-cent and dollar bets. I often get a decent run playing at the quarter level and find that when I step up to the fifty-cent level the run disappears. It also held true in switching up to the dollar denom. Since the machine is at three different coin levels does the programming and RNG change when you change the level wagered? I have always read that the larger you bet, the hold becomes less for the casino and better for the player. Could it be possible that the momentum changes when you're at a quarter level and go to the fifty cent or dollar level? It has been at least five times out of five that I have stepped up and lost all the "Mo."

My dilemma is that I realize the randomness of each pull but as you know from actual experience "when they're hot they're hot". Since the multi-denom is relatively new to reel slots my experience and those that I discussed this with at the casino I play at seemed all puzzled by the same occurrences in their experiences.

I write this as I respect your opinion and if you can supply the answers, that would be of great value to us all.

Thanks,
Jack

Dear Jack,

It's true that the hold percentage tends to go down as you go up in denomination. It's also true that a multi-denomination machine could have different payback programs (virtual reel layouts) for the same game at different denominations. But there's no need to change the RNG.

It's possible that the payback programs for the higher denominations have lower hit frequencies that those of the lower denominations, but I doubt that's the case. I think it's more likely that we have a case of selective memory. You and the other players believe that a machine will lose its "momentum" if you change denominations, so you remember the times that it does and forget about the times that it doesn't.

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