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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Got Keno?

27 August 2005

Dear Sir,

I love keno.

I prefer nickel keno machines. Why don't casinos like keno machines?

I drive 190 miles to Wisconsin Dells to play nickel keno, no one has them in Il. Some casinos have quarter keno machines, but not a lot. Some have 3, others have 6, and I find myself waiting about a hour to get a machine.

Thank you,
Diana

Dear Diana,

I'm surprised that you had to wait to get a machine. Keno isn't usually that popular, but then again 3-6 machines aren't that many.

Illinois limits the number of gaming positions a casino can have, so casinos in that state have to put in machines that will have broad appeal.

Let the casino know that you came there to play their keno machines and you usually have to wait to play one. They might have more keno machines in another area of the casino or keno might be available on some of their multi-game machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

Within the past year, my wife and I have found a new favorite machine at Harrah's in South Lake Tahoe – Top Dollar. What a great game! I am assuming that many of your readers already know about this little gem of a slot and, hopefully, we're not alone when we say how much fun we have playing it.

What caught our attention was the fact that this game can be a two-coin-in bonus machine, which is rare, isn't it? Most bonus slots are three coin machines, which can make a difference in a hurry if you're losing lots or have hit a bad streak in a casino. I thought it was awesome that IGT would step up and give us two coin guys a nod!

My question is, how long has this machine been in use and do you find its popularity spreading? I'd hate it to become one of those machines you have to hunt high and low for. My guess is that it's on the rise; in passing through the Las Vegas airport this past week, I found a three-coin version and played that for about 10 minutes, hitting the bonus round three times, but eventually putting it all back.

Great fun, great stuff and great column!

Rick

Dear Rick,

I don't know exactly when Top Dollar came out. The top-box bonus game is part of the intellectual property that IGT received when it bought Barcrest about 4-5 years ago, so I would guess that this game came out around 2001-2002.

You're right, it is unusual to find a 2-coin bonus multiplier. Most 2-coin multipliers are straight multipliers. Two-coin bonus multipliers do exist though. Getting them on the casino floor is just a matter of the casino ordering that paytable.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


If I am having a lucky, or an unlucky, streak on a particular slot machine, is it possible to keep (or change) my luck by changing the timing of the "max bet" button?

Ex: every second, then 10 seconds, 5 seconds or maintiain if I'm lucky.

Thanks,
Melissa

Dear Melissa,

Nope. The odds are the same on every spin and it doesn't matter how long you wait between spins.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John:

I only play slot machines which are quarter or 50 cent machines. When I play 3 coins, some machines pay $25,000 jackpots and others pay $1,600 to $10,000.

Do all of these machines pay off on the random numbers of spins or do the higher payoffs hit less frequently?

If all of the machines payoff on the same number of random spins, it would seem your chances of winning the bigger payoff ($25,000) on 3 coins is the same as the smaller payoff of 3 coins.

Please comment.

Thanks.

Chuck

Dear Chuck,

Machines don't pay off after a certain number of spins.

Machines use their random number generators to choose which symbols will land on the payline for a spin. The number of times a symbol appears on the virtual reels in the programming of the machine determines how likely the symbol is to land on the payline.

The jackpot symbols on machines that pay $25,000 for three jackpot symbols probably appear less frequently on the virtual reels than when the jackpot pays only $1,600. A $25,000 jackpot usually hits less frequently than a $1,600 jackpot.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hey, John,

Reading an article that you wrote for Strictly Slots called "Finding the Loosest Slots" you mentioned a database of over 1,000 slot machine programs. I was wondering where I can download this from. That way if Double Diamond isn't working for me that day, I can go to the second best slot machine. At least one that has a good correlation between hit frequency and payback. Buy the way, GREAT ARTICLE! Keep up the good writing.

Thanks,
Steve

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the kind words about my article.

The database cannot be downloaded from anywhere. And even if it could be, it wouldn't do you any good. Except for that quirk I discovered about Double Diamond payback programs, there's no way to know which payback program is in any particular machine.

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 send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.

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