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Best of John Robison

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Odds in picking bonus rounds

20 July 2011

There are bonus rounds wherein you start picking symbols until a "start" one is chosen. What's frustrating, nay, infuriating, John, is when you activate "start" after only two or even one symbol.

Because many other symbols were left unpicked, it seems obvious that the slot machine has good payback reserves left, right? Therefore, there is a greater chance to win so better to continue playing the same game. This belief is why I would leave a machine after a generous win because it might not have enough payback credits left.

Thank you for your clear and logical responses in your column. God bless and keep up your great work!

Peter

Dear Peter:

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

It may be obvious that the machine has good payback reserves left, but that's not how the machines work. The results of one spin have no effect on any future spin. The results of one bonus round have no effect on the results of any future bonus round.

Most "picking" bonuses in Class III slot machines work this way: The machine randomly assigns a value to each of the items you can pick. What you pick determines how much you win in the bonus round. The machine has not pre-determined how much you will win during this round.

The next time you come back to this bonus round, the machine again randomly assigns values to the items -- without regard for what happened the last time you played the round. The values are determined by either your line bet or your total bet, not by what happened last time. The amount you win this time is determined by what you pick. It is not affected by your prior results.

You do not have a greater chance to win after a picking bonus round ends with many items left untouched. And there's no reason to leave a machine after a generous win. Your chances of hitting a winning combination haven't changed.

Payback reserves, or payback credits, don't exist. In fact, any machine that uses past results to influence future results would be illegal in the United States.

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