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Hit Frequency, Reno, Atlantic City, Double Up

17 August 2003

By John Robison

Hi there,

Has there ever been any research done into what number of times a slot machine will pay "anything" during one hundred spins on the average? I have counted many times and find the average slot machine will pay roughly 16 times out of 100 spins. That includes winning a lowly cherry return to a bigger win. I have found that this number is quite normal. Any credence to this?


Dear William,

The statistic you describe is called Hit Frequency and it is one of the statistics (along with payback percentage) that slot manufacturers calculate for each payback program for each machine.

Hit frequencies range from under 10% for low hit frequency machines to almost 100% for some multiline machines. You can get an accurate estimate of a machine's hit frequency with 100 or so spins.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

* * * * * * * * * *

Heading to Reno on the 19th. Since I've been out of the United States for 5 years, I am a little green. What casinos do you recommend that tend to have bigger paybacks?

Star Brooks is our resident expert on Reno. She has a weekly article on this site. Check out her own site for more Reno information. You can send her an e-mail and she'll be glad to answer any questions you have.

I checked the video poker offerings at the Reno casinos as reported at and it looks like you can't go wrong at any of the Reno casinos--almost every one offers many high-paying video poker machines. (Casinos with high-paying video poker also have high-paying slots.)

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

* * * * * * * * * *

Can you tell me where I might find interactive slot games such as Cash Crop online and the best casinos to play online with the best payouts?

I don't play at online casinos so I don't have any firsthand experiences I can relate. I have done some research on them for various projects and I found that the casinos that quote payback numbers that have been audited by a CPA firm give accurate numbers.

I doubt you'll find online versions of casino machines because the various slot manufacturers have the copyrights on those concepts. It's been a year or so since I looked at the slots offered by the online casinos, but at that time none of the casinos I went to had slots with the elaborate bonus rounds that the casino slots have.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

* * * * * * * * * *

What is the best video poker game to play in Atlantic City? Is it Jacks or Better, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, or Deuces wild? And which is the best casino to play at?


Dear Lenny,

Atlantic City has never had a decent Deuces Wild machine. Harrah's, Hilton, and Tropicana have a few quarter 9/6 DB with 1600-coin Royal Flush. Trump Plaza has one 10/7 DB in dollars and it's usually occupied. Resorts used to have a number of quarter 8/5 Bonus Poker machines, but I'm not sure if they still have them. Caesars, Sands, Trump Marina, and Tropicana are your best bets for dollar 9/6 Jacks.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

* * * * * * * * * *


My name is John from California. I find that I like the Double Up option on draw video poker. As you know, this is where you're dealt one card up (after you've won a given amount) and if you pick one of the dealt four face down cards that beats the face-up card you may double your winnings. In the Indian casino near where I live, there is a "spinning card" double up option--where you choose whether the card will stop at 9 or above "high" or 7 or below "low". Both double up options really make the game fast-paced and if you're can bump small winnings up to large winnings, i.e., $5 to $10 to $20, to $40, etc. Once in awhile, if I'm way up, I'll double a straight or full house. Of course you lose many bets as well!

Anyway, I was wondering if the double up option is truly "random". One would think that this bet (double up), if truly random, would be a good bet with a low house edge and chance for good winnings. Or, is it controlled by a chip that only allows for a given amount of double up wins?

I've been playing these machines for quite a while and would really like to know the score on this--as video poker is supposed to be a "random" dealt, generally low house edge game.

I really appreciate your input on this!

Thank you!

Dear John,

The card revealed in the double-up option should be chosen at random. Any kind of programming to limit the number of wins would be illegal in any state-regulated casino. I'm not sure how California's Native American casinos are regulated, but I'm certain that the machines produced by the major slot manufacturers operate the same way that they do in Nevada or any other state.

Assuming that the rank displayed is chosen at random and each rank is equally likely to be chosen, the house edge on the double-up option is about as good as you'll get in the casino--0%! Six cards are 7 or below and six cards are 9 or above (I assume 8 is a push). You have a 50/50 chance of being right and the machine pays you true odds if you're right.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at

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