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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Poker Slot Machine Statistics

24 May 2002

Hi there John,

Greetings from South Africa once again!

Most, if not all, of my previous questions that I've directed your way have been related to the "traditional" slot machine where symbols line up under the payline. You've also discussed, in detail, the methodology by which the "slot maths" determines the payout probablities for these machines.

The questions I'd now like to put to you involve the Poker Slot machines.

  1. When one plays a poker machine and one is presented with a choice of symbols to either "hold" or "discard", how is the "maths" behind the machine structured such that it will give a sensible result to the player's choice?
  2. Does the machine continuously produce lines of (say) five poker symbols one after the other based on the RNG supplying a random number for each card symbol in that line?
  3. And is the next line of poker symbols that appear, after one has made one's choice, completely independent of what the player chose as his hand of cards?
  4. Does the machine take account, in some way or another, the number of winning hands a player may have had in a row? In other words, if I've had 5 winning hands in a row, does this "success rate" influence which of the card symbols the machine will come up with after I've made my choice of what to "hold" or "discard"?
  5. In the "traditional" slot machine we know that the software program has various winning lines built into it, e.g., probably only one or two lines for the big jackpot out of (say) 32,000 combinations, and maybe 10,000 lines for a single cherry paying $1 etc... However, in a poker machine the top winning result is usually a Royal Flush. Now how is this written into the software program, because a player's first and third "hold" cards may be the Jack of Hearts and the King of Hearts. How does the machine ensure that only once in, say, 32,000 attempts it gives him a 10, Queen and Ace of Hearts as his second, fourth and fifth cards, bearing in mind that next time this happens he may need 3 different Hearts in 3 different positions?

Regards,
John

Dear John,

  1. I'm sorry. I don't understand the question.
  2. First, a disclaimer. My answers are based on Nevada's regulations, which state that the math of a video poker machine should match the math of dealing a deck of cards at your kitchen table. I don't know for sure how video poker machines electronically "shuffle" their decks of cards. One way is to generate a random number N from 1 to 52. Take the card at position N and put it in position 1. Repeat. When you need cards for the deal, take the first five off the top off the deck. Continue shuffling the remaining 47 cards. Take as many as needed off the top of the deck to satisfy the draw.
  3. Yes, each hand is completely independent of any other.
  4. No, the program running the machine doesn't care how well or poorly you've been doing.
  5. Remember that video poker machines do not operate in the same way as slot machines. There are no virtual reels in a video poker machine, just a virtual deck of cards. Because each card is equally likely to be drawn, the math of poker determines how frequently hands will hit.

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.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
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