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Best of John Robison

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Paybacks at the Atlantis

15 April 2004

John ,

I'm going to the Atlantis in the Bahamas. I've been told the slots are very tight. Do you have any suggestions or stats on these casinos? I will probably just play video poker -- safest bet, I'm sure.

Thanks for the articles.

Rodger

Dear Rodger,

I've never been to the Atlantis, but I've heard the same thing.

Bob Dancer was there last year and he said that there were 9/6 Jacks machines for $25 players. The $5 machines all paid back less than 99%. For quarters and dollars, they have a 9/6 Jacks lookalike that pays only 2 for trips and 22 for quads. Its long-term payback is 91.4%.

Is it possible that they bought these machines to deliberately mislead people because they know some players will see only the 9/6 and not realize that other payouts were reduced? Nah, couldn't be.

Video poker may be your safest bet, but your best bet is to keep your wallet closed and just enjoy the scenery at the resort. Save your money for casinos that give you a decent gamble.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello,

A game I like to play is Leopard Spots. You can touch the screen to stop the reels in different places or all at once. Whether you touch the screen or stop spin button, do think the combination would be the same no matter what, if you stop it yourself versus on its own?

And one more question please. On the bonus round where you pick a letter on the word SPOTS, are you really picking the amount of spins and multiplier points, or is just for show and the machine has already determined what it will give you before you pick?

Thank you,
David

Dear David,

The combination will be the same regardless of whether you stop the reels or let the show play out. In fact, that's what manufacturers call the spinning of the reels -- the show. The only thing you do when you stop the reels yourself is cut out the show. The program running the machine has already used a number from the RNG to determine where the reels will stop.

When you pick a letter in the bonus round, you really are picking the spins and multiplier. If you had picked a different letter, you would have received different amounts.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John,

What is RNG, which you refer to often in answering questions about slot machines?

I often play a 5-cent machine, by putting in $20 and playing max, which is usually 45 credits. If I hit within the first five spins, (usually about $100), I quit and cash out. What do you think about my going on to see if I could win much more?

Thanks,
Jack

Dear Jack,

The RNG, or Random Number Generator, is a special function in the program running the slot machine. The RNG produces a stream of numbers. The program uses numbers from the RNG to determine which symbols should land on the payline or which cards should be dealt.

You can try a few more spins if you want to. Your chances of hitting something are the same on every spin and it doesn't matter what you hit or didn't hit on your first five spins.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John,

How can a slot machine have random numbers if the casino can set the odds of winning?

Consider a fair die. Each face on the die is equally likely to land face-up. If you tossed that die and kept track of the results, you'd find that you tossed a 1 close to 1/6 of the time, a 2 close to 1/6 of the time, etc. The only thing that's random is what the next toss will show. We know that each face will be thrown about 1/6 of the time. Your observed population gets closer and closer to the true population the more times you throw the die.

A slot machine works the same way. We don't know what outcome will land on the payline next. But because the outcomes are being chosen from a population of outcomes that returns, say, 95%, the machine will return 95% of the money played through it in the long run.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

As always, I really enjoy your column, I just wish you publish them on daily basis.

Any way, got few questions for you regarding the comp systems and I would like your opinion on it.

I pretty much join most of the players clubs when I stay at a property. I mainly play slots. Sometimes I will venture over to table games. I always insert my casino club card when I play on machines and show my card when I'm at the table.

My questions:

- Is it better to charge everything to my hotel room? (Meals, drinks ...)

- Ask to see the casino host on the day of checking out to see if I qualify for comp either on meals on room.

I read some articles from some discussion groups advise to charge everything to your room tab.

Do you agree?

Keep up the good work.

Danny

Dear Danny,

Yes, I agree that you should charge everything to your room. In fact, it seems like charging everything to your room and then seeing what can be comped at the end of your stay is the procedure in most casinos these days.

Here's something you can try at the tables. Ask for a small comp (e.g., buffet) after you've played for a while. Sometimes the pit bosses will write the comp without charging it against your comp account. I've never heard of this happening at the slot club booth, I suppose because the reps use the computer to print comps, so they have to be charged to your account. A slot host might be able to write a comp off the books for you, though.

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 two or more 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