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How Long Should I Stay at a Non-Paying Machine?

25 July 2005

By John Robison

Hello, John,

How long would you stay at a slot machine that isn't giving you any payback? 7 pulls, 12 pulls, 15 pulls? I am having difficulty deciding when to give up on a losing cause thinking the next pull just might be the big payoff.

Well, the problem is that the next pull could be the big payoff. The probability for hitting any winning combination are the same on every spin, regardless of how hot or cold the machine has been. There's no mathematical basis for leaving a machine after a certain number of losing spins.

I would say you should leave the machine if you're no longer having fun playing it. If the lack of hits makes frustrates you, then leave that machine and search for greener pastures. One advantage of switching machines is that your money isn't at risk while you're switching machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Is it possible to buy a used Munster slot machine somewhere? My wife and I visit the casinos in Lousiana, but they took them out. Any help on this would be great!

Thank you!

ed n jetta

Dear ed n jetta,

I don't know if the Munsters slots were available for sale to casinos or just for lease. Many of the themed slot machines were not available for sale. In any case, it's illegal to own slot machines built less than 25 years ago in Lousiana.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I usually visit Las Vegas in October every year for the past 10 or 12 years. I am strictly a slot player, usually $1.00 slots. I had attained gold status at the Aladdin Casino in 2003, but didn't take my usual trip in 2004 due to a family illness.

When I contacted the Aladdin this year, I was informed that becasue I missed a year I lost my status as a gold card member.

Is this the norm for casinos in vegas or should I look for another place to stay (I have stayed at the Monte Carlo a few times)?

This is the norm. Every tiered slot club I know of has some sort of requalification period. If you don't give enough action during the requalification period, you'll drop down rank.

I don't know what extra benefits gold status gives you at the Aladdin, but you can try this: Call a slot host and explain the situation. If you have a history of giving enough play, the host may bump you back up to gold. If not, you're no worse off than you are now.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I want to settle a point with my sister, she plays a lot but seldom wins. Likes to play pennies and nickels, but she swears that when she plays with her card the machine doesn't hit at all, but when she takes her card out the machine starts hitting.

Does the casino having any control over whether your card causes a machine to hit or not? Also is it better to play with a Players Card or not? Enjoy your column.

Sisters in Missouri

Dear Sisters,

Using a slot club card has no effect whatsoever on your results on a machine. I think it's better to play with a card because it's the only way you'll be able to get the comps you've earned.

You can prove this to your sister by performing an experiment. Play 1,000 spins on a machine with the card in and 1,000 spins without the card. Count the number of hits you get in each case. The number of hits should be very close.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,


There are four of us going to Atlantic City from Canada for the first time in July. We are planning to stay for four nights. So far we have decided on the Trump Taj Mahal as I have been reading many reviews and this place seems to be good in reviews.

Can you tell me which casinos have the best comps and which casinos have the best payouts for all slots from nickels to dollars? Any other suggestions would be really helpful.


I haven't been to Trump Taj Mahal in quite a while. I understand they are finally doing some much needed renovating now that The Donald has come out of bankruptcy.

Which slot club is best for you is tough to answer. If cashback is important to you, only the Sands and Tropicana offer same-day cashback. If you're already a member of a company-wide club (like Harrah's), one of the casinos affiliated with that club may be best for you.

The question about the best paybacks is easy to answer -- it doesn't matter. Most of the paybacks are so close together that it really doesn't matter where you play, especially for only four days.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

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