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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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How Does the Payback Percentage Algorithm Affect the RNG?

2 September 2005

Dear John,

Obviously, a casino should not be required to pay off on a machine that they do not know is malfunctioning. But do you know of any authority for the proposition that a casino would have to pay if they allowed a machine to be played that they knew was defective?

Thanks.

What kind of malfunction did you have in mind?

You see, I don't think this would happen. As soon as a casino determines that a machine is malfunctioning, it will remove the game from play. And machines have self-tests in them that they can run and shut themselves down if they fail a test. And if a manufacturer or lab determines there is a problem, machines will be shut off. I don't think a casino would ever allow a machine that is known to have a malfunction that is affecting game play or payouts to be played.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

I have read many of your articles around Random Number Generators. There is a whole lot more to the machine than the RNG. I believe that many people understand that the RNG generates a number that is virtually mapped and then this map is transferred to the actual reel positions that we look at on the machine. What seems to be a common question among slot players is how the payback percentage algorithms work. Does it really matter what the RNG returns if the payback percentage chip says no?

Julian

Dear Julian,

There is no such thing as a percentage payback algorithm.

The payback of a machine is determined solely and completely by the number of times each symbol appears on each virtual reel.

Any routine that alters the results as determined by the RNG is illegal in all U.S. jurisdictions with which I'm familiar.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi!

I was in Trump Plaza in Atlantic City the other day. When I cashed out of the machine, usually you receive a ticket but the coins were pouring out. I looked around for a bucket but could not find one because the machines generally give tickets. One of the maintenance men was working on a machine nearby and said that he would call someone and see if the machine was offline. They proceeded to work on the machine from one of the offices in the casino and I was then able to cash out a ticket.

My question is, if they can work on any machine from an office can they change a winning machine around to switch it to a non-winning one?

Thank you in advance,
Barbara

Dear Barbara,

Absolutely not. No one in any casino office can turn a winning machine into non-winning one or vice versa.

There's an elaborate security system in place to protect the integrity of the tickets and thwart ticket counterfeiters. It seems your machine was not communicating with the ticket validation system for some reason. The casino corrected the problem and you were then able to cash out using tickets.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I have just recently played at a Northern California Tribal Casino that added 500 Electronic Bingo/Video Slot machines, for now. It took me a short time to learn how to play and how it pays. I've noticed players at these machines only concentrating at the video slot display screen and not the bingo card display above. They're reacting as if they're regular video slots. Instruction cards are located at the player club desk and also on the help/pay tables screen. I've never seen anyone view those screens.

Do you feel this is dangerous for players to think and play as if these are regular Nevada-type video slots? Do you think the tribal casinos know that the average or non-informed player will see these as such?

Dan

Dear Dan,

I don't think it makes any difference if players know these are Class II or Class III games.

The only things that really matter are the hit frequencies and long-term paybacks of the machines. It doesn't really matter how the result of a play is determined or whether the machine displays spinning reels, a bingo card, or just a message telling you how much you won.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Is there any secret to playing keno? I love to play the game but I don't do very well at any machine I try. Should I play six or seven numbers or ten? What is the best approach?

Thanks,
Jackie

Dear Jackie,

The best approach to playing keno is to do the math and bet the number of numbers that have the highest long-term payback.

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