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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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More on tournament slot machines

6 March 2006

Been to Monaco (Monte Carlo) and the French Riviera. Vegas surely has a way to spoil us. I have been to quite a few casinos in Europe and yet to find one that compares to the Vegas experience.

Having said that, I did have a good time. The slots are, of course, Euros and in comparison, more expensive to gamble. Prepare to either have a higher bank roll or less gambling time or you could be disappointed. I normally play slots and really can't comment on the table games.

Don't forget to take your passport. You need to have it with you to enter the casinos. Though it isn't Vegas, it was a enjoyable time.

Bill

Dear Bill,

Thanks for sharing your experiences in European casinos.

John


Hello, John,

I was just reading a couple of letters on the Casino City website.

One was from Suzanne, which stated that she had seen slot tourneys and they took machines on the floor and turned a key and switched them to tourney machines. Your remark was that you did not think this was allowed.

We play at Shreveport/Bossier several times a year and for over a year went every weekend. At every casino there, this is common practice.

We were down this past weekend and saw that one casino appears to have a special set of machines that are for slot tourneys only and are never for floor play.

Now the other letter is from disgruntled, who stated how upset he was over the Harrah's group.

I was a Jacks club member under the old Horseshoe in Shreveport. We were always honored with comps and meals and the amount of wins were very good. We never had a problem with promotions that they had.

Not three months after Harrah's took over, you could see the difference in the casino in Shreveport. We would call about a room and hear, "Sorry, we are booked up" or "Sorry, that promo was not meant for you" or "We have had so many calling that we are overbooked." I think you get the picture.

Then in the casino they have taken identical machines and moved them around so that a machine that you knew you could depend on to pay a little was replaced with one tighter than a banjo string.

One night while eating a snack up in the Jack clubs cubbyhole on the third floor, there were several people that played big money in there. I'm talking folks that dropped 25 to 30 thou a night. They were even talking about letting their status run out and going other places because of the poor service and they way they were now being treated.

We were at the the Shoe back in August of 2005 and it looked like a ghost town. Even late at night you could play anywhere.

Just thought I would pass on what we have seen. And yes, we have taken our play to other casinos that seem to appreciate the gambler a little more.

Finally, being a high roller at the Horseshoe, we asked for a room and were told nothing was open. I then made a bet that I was not taken up on. I told them I bet that I could get a room at another casino that I hardly played at. I then went over to Sam's Town and showed them my players card and told them we would consider playing there more often if we could get a room for the night. Not only did we get one night, we got two nights and two nights for the next two weekends. We moved to there and started playing.

We were high rollers from sheer luck on several big wins. Beginner's luck.

Thanks,
Charles

Dear Charles,

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Given the potential for problems, I'm surprised that any jurisdictions would allow chips on the slot floor that contain anything but regular game mode programming. But clearly, some do. The following letter describes another example.

I'm surprised that you had so many problems after Harrah's took over. Harrah's has a reputation of good customer service.

If you were sent a promotion and told it was not meant for you, you should report them to your local gaming board. It's not your problem that they made a mistake. Similar things have happened in other jurisdictions, and the gaming boards have ruled that the casinos have to honor the promotion.

In any case, you've done the best thing you can do. Vote with your wallet and take your business to a casino that appreciates your play.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


At New York New York in Vegas, they use the regular slot machines and convert them to tournament play with the turn of a key. I watched one of the tournaments and noticed the "winning machine." When the tournament ended, I wanted to play that winning machine, but another player got to it first. Sure enough, that player started to win, win, win on that machine.

Yes, that only was observed "once." But believe me, if I ever witness another tournament I'm going to try to get on the hot "tournament machine" later when it's converted back to regular play.

Thanks for the columns,
Alan

Dear Alan,

I don't think you have anything to lose by trying to get the hot machine in the tournament, but just keep in mind that all spins are independent events and just because a slot was hot in a tournament, that doesn't mean it will be hot on the regular slot floor.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

These people are KILLING me with these questions. Do these people all have degrees from MIT?

Just play or don't play the stinking machines. It's not rocket science, it's gambling.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Elaina

Dear Elaina,

It may not be rocket science, but it also need not be just gambling.

Casinos love players who say, "It's just gambling." Casinos can depend on these players to play at the highest house edges available on the casino floor. These players don't bother learning which bets are good and which bets should be avoided. These players don't bother learning the high-paying video poker pay tables and the proper strategies to use while playing them. After all, "It's just gambling."

Casinos don't gamble on their gaming floors. They write the rules so that they almost always have the edge over the players. But on those rare occasions when they screw up the math and give the edge to the players, the smart players can take advantage of the situation.

Playing casino games will almost always be a gamble for players, but we can frequently use mathematics to minimize the risk. And even if we can't minimize the risk, understanding how machines really work can help us deal with the times that Lady Luck doesn't smile upon us.

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