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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Playing Slots Online

30 May 2004

Hi, John,

Enjoy your column and find it very informative.

I have a question with regards to playing the slots on-line. Do you recommend this, and if so, how does the financial end of it work? Can you rely on the casino to pay your winnings if, in fact, there are winnings? Also, can you withdraw those winnings (if any) whenever you want to?

Thanks again,
Marji

Dear Marji,

Financial transactions with online casinos are pretty much the same as those with physical casinos. First, you have to buy in. That's getting a bit tougher today because many credit card issuers and payment processing firms (e.g., PayPal) will no longer honor transactions with online casinos.

As for collecting your winnings, I have heard of some online casinos being slow to play and, in some cases, refusing to pay. The cases in which the casinos refused to pay all involved situations in which a player did not follow the rules of some promotion. Some online casinos have strange requirements for getting your winnings (e.g., faxing a copy of a photo ID). I had a private correspondence with one player who objected to having to jump through the hoops the casino wanted him to jump through in order to get his money. There was nothing I could do because the terms were clearly spelled out on the casino's website. Make sure you read the fine print on the site and that you're willing to do whatever the casino wants you to do to collect your winnings.

I've met a handful (three or four) operators of online casinos and in each case these folks operated casinos and games that were just as fair as brick-and-mortar casinos. I suggest you check the information on Casino City before sending any money to an online casino.

I don't personally recommend playing slots at online casinos, but that's mainly because I like the casino ambience and I have a real hard time getting a cocktail waitress to come by my PC. And I'm a big tipper!

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

For those who think camping at a machine all day will ensure a payoff, I share this story from my own experience.

I waited for three hours to play a progressive quarter machine at Wheeling Downs in West Virginia. The jackpot was approaching $3,000 and most of the players would not relinquish their machines.

Finally I got my chance. I was about halfway through my first $20 when a woman sat next to me. On her second pull she hit the three triple diamonds, collecting a $3200 jackpot in the process. Suddenly the bank of machines was empty.

Ray

Dear Ray,

Thanks for the story. It just goes to show you that the chances of hitting a winning combination on a machine are the same on every spin, regardless of what has happened in the past.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

Enjoy your column.

I have a question about the West Virginia casinos. What do you know about them? Every time I go to Wheeling or Mountaineer I spend a ton of money with virtually no payback.

Because there are no other casinos around (in PA or OH) I think their paybacks are extremely low. Don't they have to publish them? Also I have read in the newspapers that they are often fined for low paybacks, but I don't know who does that. They should be shut down instead--that would make them think twice about their paybacks. What's a small fine when they are making millions? What do you think?

BP

Dear BP,

Sorry, I don't know anything about West Virginia's casinos other than what I read on the Casino City website.

Casinos don't have to publish their paybacks. That information usually comes from the states and each state chooses how much information it makes publicly available.

I did a quick search for articles about fining casinos in West Virginia for having low paybacks and didn't find any. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that I can't add anything to your statement. There's a gaming enforcement division in West Virginia that would verify paybacks and issue fines.

You make a good point that a fine should be large enough to discourage an infraction, but the fine also has to be commensurate with the seriousness of the infraction.

You are in control in this situation. If these casinos really give you no payback with playing a ton of money through their machines, stop going to the casinos. These casinos may not have to compete with nearby casinos, but they still have to get you to come play there instead of saving your money for a trip to a farther away, but better-paying casino.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John,

Just love your column.

My family and I will be visiting Vegas in May 2004, and we will be staying at the Golden Nugget. Can you tell me the best places to play video poker downtown? I mostly play quarter VP, dollars occasionaly. I enjoy playing Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus.

Also, have you heard of a game called Triple Action Poker? It's VP with a bonus round. When you are dealt three 3s, for the next nine hands, all pays are tripled. I play this at Casino Rama and Casino Windsor in Ontario, but have not seen it anywhere else. Just wondering if you have.

One more question. I undestand that Binion's downtown LV was bought by Harrah's. Do you know when the casino will be re-opening? Also, do you know if the new owners of the Golden Nugget have made any exciting changes to the property? I read in Casino Player there is a grand opening coming up in the spring, and wondered if you had any informtion about this.

Thank you for answering my questions.

Kim

Dear Kim,

Sorry this reply is being published after you've come back from your trip.

I haven't been downtown in quite a while, but friends who go downtown frequently all like Main Street Station. Judging by their listing on Skip Hughes' site (www.vphomepage.com), it has about the best selection of full-pay video poker machines downtown.

I've never seen Triple Action Poker, but I have to admit that I don't pay much attention to video poker with gimmicks. There have been very few gimmicks added to video poker that were actually good--or at least not injurious--for players' bankrolls.

Harrah's reopened Binion's Horseshoe in April. I don't know anything beyond what Casino Player said about the Golden Nugget.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

I do enjoy your column. I recently made a trip to Kansas City. I like to play the slots and I hadn't been since a lot of the casinos have switched over to the coinless ticket in/ticket out machines.

I really don't like the new way. Is there any way to convert these people (casinos) back to the old way?

Thanks for all you answers.

Cathy

Dear Cathy,

There's no turning back now. Coin handling is a significant expense for a casino and for many players, coins add nothing to the slot-playing experience.

I suggest you just get used to not having to search for coin buckets when you want to cash out, and not having to carry heavy buckets of coins, and not having to wait for the booth person to change bags on the coin-counting machine in the middle of counting out your coins. You'll also have to get used to not having dirty, grimy hands after playing the slots.

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.

Playing Slots Online is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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