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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Is consolidation in the gaming industry good for players?

6 November 2006

I received a letter from a Susan Applegate claiming she had a system called zigzag that would win me thousands of dollars. All I had to do was send $30 + S&H and I would get the info.

What do you think?

Grace

Dear Grace,

I purchased the ZigZag system last year and wrote about it in my March 14, 2004 column. You can find that article archived on this site.

Your money is far better spent on books by Frank Scoblete, John Grochowski, and (if I may) myself than on this system.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I have seen many negative e-mails since Harrah's has taken over the Caesars properties. Just what do they think they are accomplishing by drastically reducing the payoffs and comps for slot players? I have been quiet about this, but now I need to add my experiences.

I noticed the decrease in wins as well as changes in the slot brands. Comps have decreased markedly. Reduced costs for the buffet are now gone. Everyone pays full price, if you are not comped. The last straw was to learn that the monthly newsletter will not be mailed to anyone who has not been to the Caesars in Indiana in the previous two months.

I have been a loyal patron there for the last nine years. Now is the time to go to the Argosy in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, or The Grand Victoria or Belterra, which I have visited with bus tours. Goodbye, Harrah's, hello to a more patron-friendly casino. Mileage-wise, the other Riverboats are just as close and access is easier.

I don't think the consolidation that occurred in the casino industry is good for the players. I preferred the policies of the acquired more than those of the acquirer (Mirage and Mandalay Resorts over MGM, Ceasers Entertainment over Harrah's), but the buyer gets to write the new rules. I haven't seen any evidence of any economies of scale resulting from the mergers translating into better deals for the players.

Competition does wonders for getting better games and better deals for players. I think there's too much concentration in the casino industry today.

I've received many e-mails like this one from people saying that games and deals got worse after their casinos were acquired. Has anyone seen any positive effects from these mergers? If so, please write and I'll publish them in a future column.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I agree to a point on hot/cold rooms, but I also believe they can rig their slots. For example, we play a slot called Wheel of Fortune and when the wheel spins (no matter which machine it is) the speed is constant except when it gets to the highest number then it jumps real quick past it. TELL ME IT IS NOT RIGGED.

It's not rigged.

But the wheel is also not fair.

It appears as if each position on the wheel should be equally likely to land under the pointer, but that is not true. The Wheel of Fortune machines use a map similar to a virtual reel to make some wedges much more likely to land under the pointer than others. The wedges on either side of the highest amount, for example, are much more likely to land under the pointer than the wedge with the highest amount.

I think it's just your imagination that the wheel speeds up when the wedge with the highest number passes under the pointer.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, John,

I have read some of your responses to questions asked regarding your articles. I must say that I salute the creators and manufacturers of the slots. They have been a rewarding and useful tool for the casinos to rake in the big bucks.

I have personally been on an eight-month losing streak. Needless to say that I should give it up. I was told "by law, that all casinos must provide proof that they pay out at least 20% percent of their profit earned". This particular one that I been playing at appears as though it more like 2%, however that would be my first question?

My second question would be, are all of these methods people write about beating the slot machine systems fake and/or bogus and just another way for them to participate in this profitable business?

I must say that although it has been unfortunate, it's been interesting while observing more and more players weep their losses.

As to your first question, I don't know what this person meant. Perhaps casinos in this jurisdiction are required to give 20% of their profits to civic projects or something similar.

Jurisdictions have a statutory minimum payback for slot machines. The slots must pay out at least that percentage of the money played through them. The percentage is based on action, not casino profit. The percentage is 78% to 82% or so, not 20%.

A machine's long-term payback will prove out in the long run. Players only play in the short run, so the payback they experience from the machine may be quite different.

Players also usually don't calculate their paybacks properly. Let's say you you had $100 and you played it one dollar per spin in a dollar machine and you left that machine with $2. The only way your payback would be 2% is if you didn't replay any winnings. Players usually just look at what they started with and what they ended with to figure their paybacks, but they have to include replayed winnings too.

Your real payback is probably much higher than 2%.

As for slot systems, I haven't seen one that was worth anything. There's no way to predict when a machine will be hot or cold.

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