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Best of John Robison

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Glitch cancels jackpot?

28 February 2011

If the RNG is the actual and sole determination of what constitutes a winning spin (because the reels are merely a physical and visual representation of the RNG results), wouldn't a jackpot win (with all the accompanying bells and whistles) be the result of what the RNG has just done? If the jackpot has been "signaled and set off" by the RNG, wouldn't it be a valid win regardless of what the reels display?

See the accompanying news article about a denied jackpot.

Casino glitch cancels out jackpot winner

Thank you,
Joe

Dear Joe,

To answer your questions, the RNG is the sole determinant of the results of a spin. Setting off the "bells and whistles" signifying a jackpot win should be the result of a jackpot's being chosen by the RNG, but might not be. Programming errors in the software running the machine could result in these ancillary jackpot indications' going off without having a jackpot chosen by the RNG. If a jackpot is chosen by the RNG, it would be a valid win regardless of what the reels display.

Now, let's look at that article. At the end of a spin, a machine says that the player has won over $53,000 and bells are going off. One problem: the combination displayed on the payline is not the jackpot combo. It's not even a winning combination.

It's not mentioned in the article, but I can guess what happened based on standard procedures. First, casino personnel verify that the combination displayed on the payline is worth the amount the machine is saying the player should be paid on the pay table. In this case, some parts of the machine are indicating that the player should be paid the jackpot, so they were expecting to see three Dollar Sign symbols on the payline. The payline had one Dollar Sign and two other symbols. Perhaps the reels stopped in the wrong locations, though the machine should have detected this situation and gone into a tilt mode.

The next step is to verify the combination chosen by the RNG. Casino personnel do this using administration menus in the slot machine. The combination they found was not the jackpot, otherwise there would have been a very different article.

So, the bottom line is that the player did not win a jackpot because the RNG did not choose a jackpot and the reels, presumably, stopped on the correct symbols. A secondary system erroneously indicated a jackpot had been won.

Your statement that a jackpot had been "signaled and set off by the RNG" is incorrect. If it had been, the player would have been paid. In this case, the RNG did not indicate a jackpot.

I have to take issue with the title of the article. It assumes something that was not true. The player was not a jackpot winner. The contract slot players have with the casino is that we'll be paid for what lands on the payline. Three jackpot symbols did not land on the payline.

If three jackpot symbols had landed on the payline, I think the player should have been paid the jackpot regardless of what the RNG said.

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