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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Have casinos tightened their machines?

30 March 2009

Dear John,

Love your columns.

Is it me or does it seem that the casinos are tightening up their machines in this economy?

I am a medium roller and have had zero luck recently (past 7 or 8 months or so) in my weekly casino visits (which have now become bi-weekly and even monthly) and get an eerie feeling that the casinos have programmed their machines not to pay out as prodigiously as in years past due to the state of the present economy. My playing patterns have never changed and although I would take some losses before this recession, it was never as bad a streak as it's been currently. My regular $5-10 slot-mates at a particular Atlantic City casino seem to think so and have had the same (bad) luck as well.

Thanks for any insight you provide.

Slot Donator

Dear Donator,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

Lowering paybacks on machines to win more money seems like a self-defeating strategy for a casino. If it lowered the paybacks and players got the impression — or confirmation — that the paybacks were lowered, they might play less or elsewhere, thereby lowering the total action they give and the casino's win.

In addition, it takes millions of spins to reliably tell the difference between two machines with long-term paybacks that differ by only a couple of percentage points.

Random events are funny things. Sometimes they seem to be in sync. We've all seen banks of machines run hot and run cold. You and you friends are just having a run of bad luck.

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