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Best of John Robison
Help with College Projects24 October 2004
I think there's a problem with your plan.
I picked a par sheet for a slot machine at random. (Okay, it wasn't really at random. It's the one I have on my desktop that I use in a lot of examples.) This is a 2-coin machine with 64 stops on each reel. There are a total of 262,144 reel combinations. When we multiply the value of each winning combination by the number of ways we can hit it, we get a total of 229,280 coins paid back by the machine when we play one coin. Dividing the 229,280 coins paid back by 262,244 (the number of combinations times the number of coins played) gives us a payback of 87.463%.
Now, you want to run a 3-for-1 special. The population of outcomes still pays back 229,280 coins, but it now costs us one-third as much to play. Dividing 229,280 by (262,244/3) yields a payback of 262%.
Let's check our numbers by looking at the casino's side. Assume that we play the machine 262,144 times and get each possible outcome once. (This assumption also applies to the prior calculation, but I didn't say so.) The casino collects 262,144 coins from us and gives us back 229,280 coins for a net win of 32,864 coins. That gives us a house edge of about 12.5%, which is 1 minus the payback of 87.463%.
In 3-for-1 mode, the casino collects only 87,381 coins from us but still pays back 229,280 coins, for a net loss of 141,899 coins. Dividing -141,899 by 87,381 yields a house edge of -162%. Payback is 100% minus house edge, so the payback is 262%.
There are no slot machines that I know of that give a 3-for-1 deal, but I think it could be implemented relatively easily using Acres Bonusing software, now owned by IGT.
In my purely unscientific observations, I'd say that casinos are emptiest during the early morning hours, about 3-7 AM.
Best of luck with your project,
The payback percentage is of all money played through the machine. That includes money that players inserted into the machine plus any winnings that are repaid.
As far as the machine and the payback percentage are concerned, a wager is a wager and it doesn't matter whether the money came from a buy-in or from winnings paid by the machine.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at email@example.com. 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 two or more months for your question to appear in my column.
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