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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Is the Telnaes patent still active?

4 December 2006

Hi, John,

This is Jon-the-computer-guy studying slots in Gulfport/Biloxi Mississippi. Haven't heard from you in some time; I did ask you one question that never got answered: Is it legal in most gaming commissions to use what you termed "secondary decisions" to reward a specific player/situation? In other words, the RNG could not be ignored to prevent a payoff, but a secondary decision could create a payoff when there would not otherwise be one; thus the legal ability of the network controller (I assume there is such a program or person or combination thereof) to make machines "hot" or "cold" (which would just be returning them to their normal state).

Another quick ??? (I could buy and read your book!)...

How many random numbers are required on one of the modern machines? All the good ol' 3-reel machines didn't make it back to the Gulf Coast casinos after Katrina. Thus there's not much choice but to play the "video arcade game" monsters!

Let's say you're playing 9 lines on a "simulated 5 reel" machine (lots of those machines around in all the rebuilt casinos, presenting a different "form" to what must be the exact same "function" under the hood). Would that take 45 random numbers on one play?

Another one I'd asked in the past: is the Telnaes patent still "active" and generating revenues for Bally? And do the modern machines avoid this problem by not using virtual reels?

Thanks for your very good information; I enjoy reading your answers, especially to those who say that "random is a bunch of you know what"....

See ya...
JAS

Dear JAS,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

Unfortunately, I get so many questions now that I can't answer them all. I intended to answer your question about the Telnaes patent, but I hadn't gotten to it yet. The Telnaes patent expired 2/24/02. IGT collected the licensing fees, not Bally.

Machines typically use one random number for each reel, a 5-reel "arcade monster" would use five random numbers not 45.

Any secondary decision is illegal in the U.S. for a Class III gaming device. The results of the RNG cannot be altered.

I've heard of somthing similar to the process you described occurring on a Class II device, however. I don't remember the exact details, but it was something like a video poker machine that used a scratch-off ticket-like system to determine results. A player could draw a winning ticket, but lose on the poker hand. In that case, a surprise bonus round would be triggered to award the amount won. I probably have some of the details wrong, but this is an example of a separate process triggering a payoff when there otherwise would not be one.

In any case, there is no network controller such as you described.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, John,

Really enjoy your column. The question I have is this. All slots have a long term payback, right? OK, let's assume I put money in a machine and get lucky enough to win some. If I keep playing and lose this money, does it count like new money put in toward the payback? If it doesn't, wouldn't I be better off cashing out and putting new money in the machine? I hope this makes sense.

Also, why do these people that write and want to tell you that you don't know what you are talking about read your column?

Best of luck and thanks.

Otto

Dear Otto,

You calculate the long-term payback of a machine by dividing the total amount of money paid on all the spins played on the machine by the total of money bet on all those spins.

Let's say a 90% payback machine has paid a total of $90,000 on a total of $100,000 played on the machine. You put in $100 and press the Bet Max button. This is a 3-coin dollar machine, so you just bet $3 on the spin. You don't win anything on the spin, so the totals are $90,000/$100,003. On your next spin, you win $50. The totals are $90,050/$100,006. You don't win anything on the next spin, so the totals are $90,050/$100,009. It doesn't matter whether the money you play came from your buy-in or your winnings. Every dollar you bet on the spin gets added to the total money played in the machine.

The long-term payback calculation uses the amount of money bet on a machine, not your buy-in. You may get 50 spins out of your $100 buy-in. $150 in action gets added to the total amount of money played in the machine, not your $100 buy-in.

Personally, I'm glad that people who don't agree with me about how slot machines really work read my columns. They just might learn something.

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 reply to every question.

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