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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Have the machines in Vegas gotten tighter?

30 October 2006

Thank you for again acknowledging my letter regarding hot and cold casino rooms.

With regard to hot/cold machines, looseness and such, it is precisely this mentality that has made the penny and nickel machines so endearing. They hit often and frequently and may even have multiple bonus games to excite us. But if you look carefully, you can see the payouts are not the same as their higher-denomination cousins. For example, on an IGT red-white-blue multi-line penny reel-spinner, a 120-coin bet yields only 100 coins paid back on a 7-7-7 win, unless the colors of the 7s are all the same. It's the old one-step-forward, two-steps-back thing. We are winning and having fun, but we aren't making money.

Some of these machines are just plain scary. I saw one penny video slot at my local casino that allowed for 100 paylines and 25c per line, for a max bet of $25! At a typical payback percentage of 83-85%, imagine the profit this machine makes for the casino. A player considering this level of play would do much better playing a $5, $10 or even a $25 machine.

Thanks for your time.

Steve

Dear Steve,

You can't compare two machines based on how much they pay for a particular combination unless you know the combination hits with the same frequency on both machines.

We do have to be careful when playing video slots and playing multiple coins on multiple lines. You're right that we can probably get a higher payback playing a higher denomination reel-spinning machine than many dollars per spin on a video slot.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


My husband and I just returned from 5 days in Vegas. We have been going there for more years than I care to remember. I have never seen such tight machines. In the "Old Days" you would hear people scream and yell, "I hit it". But now it is so quiet and just everyone we talked to was so disgusted.

Especially the video poker machines. One hundred dollars and nothing. Is it an older lady just remembering better days (LOL) or is it just so money hungry everywhere?

Thanks for listening.

Annie

Dear Annie,

I'm glad you mentioned video poker. You can tell the long-term paybacks of video poker machines. I don't know where you played on this trip and where you played on previous trips, but if I knew the pay tables you played before and the pay tables you played this time I could tell you whether the long-term paybacks on the machines were different.

The payback of a slot machine is a mystery. There's no way to know if the long-term paybacks on the machines you've played have gone down.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

Probably a dumb question but maybe other video poker players might be interested in getting an answer, so here goes:

Most vp machines have maybe 6 to 8 vp games on them with maybe a slot game of some sort. So if you're playing a game like bonus poker, and you line up four aces or maybe the 2s, 3s, or 4s, while playing that bonus poker game.

Had you been playing any of the other poker games would the same hand been shown in the other games? Maybe you even get the royal. Would the royal have shown in the other games also?

My wife says yes. I say no. Each game is independent and deals are different for each game.

An answer please.

Chappy1

Dear Chappy1,

The only thing that changes when you change video poker games is the pay table. The RNG stays the same.

Nevertheless, you probably would not have received the same hand.

In order to get the same hand, you would have had to have hit the deal/draw button at exactly the same instant for both the deal and the draw. In addition, there are other aspects of how the RNG operates that makes it unlikely that you would have received the same hand.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

It seems that casinos offer "free slot play" as a comp more and more often. When taking advantage of the free play at the machines identified for such, is there the same opportunity for a hit as when one puts cold, hard cash into the same machine?

Peter

Dear Peter,

As long as the machine is not just for the free slot play promotion, you have the same chances with the free play as with your own money.

The old Vegas World used to give a certain amount of free slot play in its vacation packages. The tokens you received could only be played in special machines for the promotion and those machines rarely paid out. You couldn't play real money in those machines.

All of the free slot play promotions I've used in the past few years have all been played on regular slots. As far as the slot is concerned, the RNG doesn't care — or even know — the source of the credits you're playing.

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