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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Reaction to the "truth" about slot machines

19 July 2008

Dear John:

Very interesting article: The "Truth" About Slot Machines, July 14, 2008.

Both you and Mike have slot knowledge that surpasses my slot savvy. I don't go much beyond term RNG. And here is my thought on RNG.

A casino set any slot to hit, for example, three single bars one hundred times a day. And the setting will hit 100 times a day. Or they can tell that slot to hit the above combination 50 times a day. Thus they can probably make the statement, "Our machines hit randomly." But because of my opinion that the random setting can be changed, a slot can all but dry up with pay outs. I think people are getting skunked.

When there is a kiosk of machines and a sign that says, as an example, 98% payout, one only machine is set for a 98% payout.

One last thought on the slots. Except for a progressive machine I have always played one coin when I am playing the dollar slots, and I have a feeling I do better in the long run than the max players.

We have been going out to Vegas and Illinois for twenty years now and have never hit a W-2G. At the Indian casinos in Wisconsin it is a different story. Still not often but probably have four, five W-2Gs in the last 10 years.

Thank you for hearing me out.

Fred

Dear Fred,

Be on the lookout for more "truth" soon.

"A casino can set any slot to hit...three single bars one hundred times a day."

This statement is absolutely not true. Casinos cannot set slots to hit a combination a certain number of times. Casinos can however change the probability with which a combination will hit by changing the layout of the symbols on the virtual reels. Today this can be done in all but a handful of casinos only by changing a chip in the machine.

Machines do hit randomly — well, at least pseudo-randomly, which was one of the points of the article you referenced. The output from the RNG is used to select a stop on each virtual reel. You can't predict anything about the next spin from what has happened in the past.

Fred, please don't be like a certain president and let your opinion blind you to the facts.

I'm not surprised that you're doing better playing one coin than max. I have examples in my book The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots that shows why that's true.

The only time it makes financial sense to increase your bet is when the house edge is cut by a factor greater than your increase. For example, if you're going to double your bet, the house edge has to fall to less than half that at one coin for the increase in your bet to make sense. Here's why.

Let's say you're going to play 100 spins and the one-coin payback is 92% and the two-coin payback is 95%. At $1 per spin, your action is $100 and your expected loss is $8 [100*(100-92)%]. At $2 per spin, your action is $200 and your expected loss is $10 [200*(100-95)%]. You lose more, even though you're playing at a higher long-term payback, because you give more action. To break even at $2 per spin, the payback has to rise to 96%. It's very rare that the increase in payback for playing two or three coins is enough to warrant the extra risk.

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 reply to every question.

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