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Playing the $100 Slots

22 April 2004

By John Robison

Hi, John,

I have played the slots at Lincoln Park, Lincoln, Rhode Island, hundreds of times over the years and have come to the conclusion that even though a state-operated casino can not change the payout percentage without changing the program chip, something else is being changed to alter the hit frequency as the slots are networked together.

I have played banks of the same type of machine, (i.e., Winning Bid, Money to Burn, Leopard Spots, etc.) and each one behaved exactly like the other. Most times my money was sucked down with only a hit or two, some machines without even a single hit.

However, the opposite is also true, the whole row was paying out, but this only happens occasionally. This seems to further strengthen my conclusion as well.

So, am I wrong to assume that since a slot is random each should behave uniquely and not similarly?


Dear Jim,

Yes, you are wrong to assume that each slot should behave uniquely.

Consider two fair dice, one red, one green. The results of a throw of each die is random, yet the green die will behave very similarly to the red die. If you kept track of the results of the throws, you'd see that each face is equally likely to be face up on each die.

This is not to say, however, that the two dice or two slot machines running the same payback program should act in lock-step. The two slot machines won't hit at the same time, but if you looked at their hit frequencies and paybacks over time, you'd see that they behaved very similarly.

Banks of machines--and even occasionally whole areas of a casino--will go hot with machines hitting frequently. It certainly does appear as if the slot director has thrown a switch to make all these machines pay off at once.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The only way a casino can change the hit frequency or payback on a machine is to change a chip in the machine.

These occasional streaks of hot machines are just a natural consequence of the randomness of slot results. We expect occasional streaks of heads and tails when we toss a fair coin, and we also expect occasional pockets of hot machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,


Are the online casinos good places to play slots? I have played at a few and lost every time. Am I being ripped off?


Dear Jewell,

I don't know for sure, but I would guess that you are not being ripped off.

I've met a few online casino operators and each one ran a fair casino. They already had the edge in their favor, so they didn't cheat their customers.

Furthermore, we lose most of the time that we play the slots, so it's not unusual that you've lost each time you've played at an online casino, especially since you've only played at a few.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Dear John,

Do you know anything about this slot method ( that talks about using a formula to discover the "subtract-measure percentage"?

I first got the offer in the mail and then found this web site. I can't find anything on the author "Al Capling". I did find him on, which said he'd had one resolved complaint over 12 mo ago.

Is it really possible to make any income over time on gambling machines (video poker?) or should I just look at it as an expensive form of recreation?

Thanks. Love your articles.


Dear Bruce,

Sounds like nonsense to me. They make one statement (at least) that is patently untrue:

All casino slot machines have a built-in "fail safe" mechanism that insures them from losing money on any slot.

No such mechanism is legal in the United States. Besides, the machines don't need such a mechanism because they have mathematics on their side.

If the author or publisher thinks this report can stand up to a rigorous evaluation, I'd be happy to take a look at it--and eat my words if I discover I'm wrong about the value of their work.

I suggest taking the $45 that they want and buying my slot book and slot books by Frank Scoblete, John Grochowski, and Larry Mak. You'll have considerably more content and money left over.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Can you please give me some good advice playing high slots, $100 a spin?

I know the payback percentages are so much higher. I am looking for the big hit and run. Bankroll to start would be $2000-$3000. How many spins would you give before you walked away? My guess is about 4 spins.

Does it make sense to play double credits on these high machines? I heard that playing between 2 am and 8 am is best. I do not know why, since everything is random. I play the 24 k Diamond machine found at Caesars riverboat in Indiana.

Please help, and thank you.


Dear Manny,

My advice is don't.

Seriously, you don't have the bankroll for these machines. While it's true that lightning could strike, it's more likely that you'll run through your 20 to 30 spins without even hitting enough to break even.

There's no reason to leave a machine after a certain number of spins. The odds are the same on every spin. There also no reason to play at a certain time of day.

It may or may not make sense to play two coins. It depends on the paytable. There's no reason to play more than one coin on a straight multiplier or bonus multiplier, which is what most high-limit machines are.

One last thing. The payback percentages on these machines are not necessarily so much higher than those on lower denomination machines. I've seen payback programs for high-limit machines that pay back less than 95%.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hello, John,

Great items in the newsletter.

This is our water cooler discussion. Let's say we are playing a $1 Double Diamond 3-coin slot machine. We understand how the RNG works, but is the machine also programmed according to the number of coins played? Some say on one machine they will continually play the max and very seldom hit, but as soon as they change and play only one coin, now the pay frequency is more.

In other words, will a machine hit more frequently with only one coin played versus the maximum?

Thanks in advance,

Dear Beri,

The number of coins played has no effect on the results. If you keep track of the hit frequency when you play one coin at a time on this machine versus that when you play three coins at a time on the same machine, you'd find that the hit frequencies were identical.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

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