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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Paybacks in Vegas, RNG Activation, Slots on Cruises

16 October 2003

John,

First, I must say that I really enjoy reading your column/articles. I have a few quick questions for you as I am getting ready to leave for Las Vegas next week.

Can you tell me what casino in Vegas has the best payout percentage when it comes to slots as well as video poker?

I know from past trips to Vegas that all the video poker machines tend to pay a lot better than the ones in AC, so I'm in the plus already.

I'm not sure if you can help me with this one, but I've seen you discuss other things than VP and slots. How much do the pay percentages vary in Let-It-Ride poker in Vegas also?

If you can't tell, I'm looking for any edge I can get!! If you could tell me a few casinos that tend to be better out there, I would truly appreciate it. Keep they informative articles coming, I find them very interesting and helpful as well.

Thanks for the insight,
Adam

Dear Adam,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

Nevada does not release slot payback numbers by casino, so it's impossible to know which casinos have the best slot payback percentages.

There are some general rules of thumb you can follow, though. Off-strip casinos generally pay better than on-strip casinos, and casinos that cater to locals also pay better. In addition, casinos with high-paying video poker also tend to have high-paying slots.

A few notes: The Coast Casino properties used to have tons of high-paying video poker, but it seems like they're removing all the good machines at their properties except for those at Barbary Coast. Almost every Station Casinos property has some high-paying paytables. The Palms and Las Vegas Hilton each have quite a few good games.

As for Let It Ride, if I'm not mistaken, the basic paytable is the same at all casinos, but variations can occur in the payoffs for the side bet. The side bet has a very high house edge (13%-36%), so it's not worth making.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

You have probably seen this before and I missed it, but when does the RNG activate?

Playing a 3-coin slot machine, does it activate when the first coin is dropped or when the spin button is pressed?

Thank you,
Ray

Dear Ray,

The RNG is constantly running, generating number after number. At some point, the program running the slot machine will check to see the latest number generated by the RNG and use that number to determine the results of the spin.

Machines produced in the past few years wait until the very last moment possible to poll the RNG and lock in the result. That moment is sometime after the player has initiated the game by either pulling the handle or pressing the spin button.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

Let me pick your wise and methodical mind. Do you think it is a smart way to play a machine by going with the thought of not winning or losing but going with a limited amount of pulls on a machine?

Let's say you set a limit of 100 pulls or so. So a nickel machine with, let's say, 5 lines played with one coin on each line, so you set a limit of $25.00, or on a single-line, 2-quarter machine, $60.00 will give you 120 pulls. Do you think this is a better way to play rather than "If you don't hit in five or so pulls move to the next machine."

Phil

Dear Phil,

The problem I have with advice about switching machines after a certain number of losing spins is that there's no mathematical basis for it. The chances of hitting any winning combination on a machine are the same on every spin and nothing has changed just because you've had a few losing spins in a row.

I like your plan of funding 100 or so spins for a session. I find that I usually run out of desire to play before I run out of session money when I have that much available. Sometimes I'll play just one or two machines and sometimes I'll try a few machines. In either case, I have enough money in my session stake to fund 100 spins.

Now, maybe you're thinking of playing the "once-through" system. I don't care much for this system because you're making a commitment to play a certain amount of money through a machine and you're making a commitment to stop at a certain point.

I think you should leave a machine if you're no longer having fun playing it and I certainly wouldn't stop playing a machine that has been paying off well just because I'd played a certain number of spins on it.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Do you know where I can find Double Diamond Deluxe online?

John

Sorry, I don't know of any online casino that has Double Diamond Deluxe.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

My wife and I are going to Las Vegas at the end of the month and would like to

know if you are aware of any strip Casinos that have decent pay Video Blackjack machines. We recently visited Belterra Casino in Indiana and the only Blackjack machines they had only allowed two actions on the part of the player, hit or stand. There was no split, no double down, or any other options. This is a terrible game. Are there better games in Las Vegas?

Thanks,
Garry

Dear Garry,

The Las Vegas Hilton used to have excellent Video Blackjack, but from what I've heard those games aren't there anymore.

Your best bet for blackjack in Las Vegas is at a table.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I am going on a Carnival cruise at the end of August. Can you tell me a little bit about the slots on the ship? What are the best ones to play and what are the odds of payback?

Thanks,
Mel

Dear Mel,

I've heard that rather than playing the slots on a cruise ship, you can get a higher payback on your money by throwing it into the ocean and collecting what washes up on shore.

Because you're a captive audience on a cruise ship, their slots tend to have very low paybacks, perhaps even below 90%.

The good news, though, is that luck will have a greater effect on your results than payback percentage with the limited amount of play you'll give during the cruise. And most slot directors today order the same payback on all their machines of a particular denomination, so it doesn't matter which machines you play.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

Have you heard anything about the tables on the ship? Are they just as bad?

Mel

Dear Mel,

Table games are a different matter. In order to win more money from a blackjack table, for example, the casino has to have more rules that favor the casino and they have to tell you about the rules. It's much harder to change the house edge on a table game.

Check the blackjack rules and I think you'll find that they're not quite as favorable as the rules at other casinos. Craps will probably be exactly the same, though. And I suspect other tables games will be the same as at other casinos because they usually have relatively high house edges to begin with.

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.

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