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Nudge Machines, Max Coin Play

15 January 2004

By John Robison

I need to know if the tightest dollar machine in any given casino is looser than the loosest quarter machine in that same casino.

It's me again, the young man who told you about my grave misfortune with those one-armed bandits. You told me that those jackpots will happen eventually, remember?

Anyway, I need to know about that payout percentage from the machines mentioned in the first paragrah. I decided to play with $200 for the dollar machines in the past two days, and after about 100 spins because of the play through method, all I get back is about $25 and $15. I thought the payout was better at the dollar machines. Am I being lied to?

At 24, I still sometimes ID'd when I go on that boat, but I'd like to make sure I hit the jackpot before I'm older where they don't ID me anymore. I wanna do it while I'm still young, man.

ARE YOU SURE THOSE JACKPOTS WILL HAPPEN EVENTUALLY??? Are you sure there aren't people who get old trying to do it but never succeed? I've gone through at least 25,000 spins. They tell me at Harrah's the dollar jackpots happen quite a bit more often that the quarter jackpots.

Another reply and a little more advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Dear Steve,

Yes, I remember you.

Is the tightest dollar machine looser than the loosest quarter machine? Maybe, maybe not. One would think that would the case, but the casino might some very high-paying quarter machines and some very low-paying dollar machines. The only way to know for sure is to ask the slot director.

No, you're not being lied to when we say that dollar machines usually have higher long-term paybacks than quarter machines. But that doesn't mean that every $100 you play once through a dollar machine will return more than every $100 you play once through a quarter machine. It means that the dollar machine will return more in the long run, not in the short run.

Will you eventually hit a jackpot? I can't say for sure that you will. Some people hit more than their fair share of jackpots, others hit fewer. I can say that the more you play, the more likely it is that you will have hit a jackpot.

Twenty-five thousand spins isn't really that many. If you were playing video poker, you'd have only just passed the 50/50 point of having hit a royal flush.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

A letter for Frank:

Hi, Frank,

I've bought both your Victory at Video Poker and Best Blackjack. Both books have been instrumental in my understanding of the games. I'm not winning much, but at least I think I know why!

My question centers around the Indian casinos here in San Diego county. They all seem to offer miserable payouts on most all the video poker games. The only one that seems to have anything going for it is a "Super Aces" game with the pay table as follows:

4 Aces=400
x4; 2's, 3's & 4's=80
x4; 5-K's=50
2 Pr=1
Jacks or better=1

I'm sure you're laffin' in pity right now, but can you offer any advice (other than driving 6 hours to Vegas) on how to play this game? I've generally done well enough to at least break even or be ahead $70-100 (playing nickles--I'm on a limited income and play conservatively) over the last several sessions but lately I swear the games are rigged/adjusted to not pay out at certain times, like the weekends.

Thanks in advance.


Dear Boots,

Frank asked me to answer this question for him.

I plugged this paytable into WinPoker and I found that it has a long-term payback of 96.8%, not too good as far as video poker is concerned.

The only advice I can offer for playing this game is to get a video poker program called Frugal Video Poker. Use it to generate to generate a strategy chart for the game. Learn the strategy and then practice playing using the program.

The last time I was in San Diego, the Barona casino had many high-paying video poker machines. You might try going there to see if they still have the good games.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hi, John,

I really enjoy your column. Lots of great tips and always a good read.

I have a question to you regarding max coins play. I understand to get the most payout from playing video poker, you want to play max coins to get the maximum payout if you're lucky enough to hit Royal Flush.

But what about for the slot machines that have multiple lines?

On some bonus rounds, the machine pays you a multiple of your line bet. Let's say it's 4 times your line bet. If you bet 1 coin per line, you win 4 coins. But if you bet 5 coins per line, you win 20 coins.

I want your opinion on this.


Dear Danny,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

It's usually worthwhile playing max coin on video poker machines because a royal flush pays 800 coins per coin played when you play max coin, and only 250 coins per coin played when you play fewer.

In your example, you get four coins per coin played no matter whether you play one coin or five coins. There's no advantage for playing more than one coin on a line.

Most video slot paytables work this way, in fact. There's no increase in the long-term payback when playing more than one coin per line.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Is the Chuckchansi Casino any good?


Dear Marie,

Wow, that's an open-ended question.

I don't know what your definition of "good" is. You might be referring to the paybacks on the machines, the video poker selection, the restaurants, or even the parking.

In any case, I've never been to the Chuckchansi casino. If you like the games there, and you enjoy playing there, and you like the amenities there, then I'd say that it's a good casino for you.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hi, John,

Just found your online Q&A; lots of great info.

My question is about the type of slot machines that has the symbols that "adjust" up or down. It seems like that would be a benefit, but does it actually give you more payback? Or, what seems to be my experience, it just gives the illusion of an edge, but not really.


Thanks for the kind words about my column.

You're absolutely right. A nudge machine does not give the player an edge and it doesn't necessarily pay any better than a machine that doesn't nudge.

A machine nudging into a winning combination gives the impression that a losing spin was turned into a winner. The win is unexpected, so it has the psychological effect of having greater value to the player. The fact is, though, that the spin was winner all along. It's just that there was a little extra show involved in displaying the winning combination.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

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

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