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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Reading a slot's meters

3 July 2006

Dear Mr. John,

many questions about the RNG and many suspicions that the casino techs., computer shreck's and even management might fumbling with the wheels, whistles, bells and knob's.

I believe the answer to MANY questions are the log's the machine keeps and HERE one's a day two girls stop by EVERY machine and copy the log readout with appears in the middle of the screen after inserting a sort of a code, to their paper blocks.

Each machine indicates HOW many games in a certain period are done, how many turns, winners and how much money has run thru.

Observing and comparing those data's will give you immediately a very good chance to make a couple of bcks - I agree not everybody can read this but this is the only daily hot indication what is going on. ALL other stuff in your column is pretty much heavy theory but it cannot harm to follow it and keep it in the hard disc.

Thanks for trying to de-cpher the RNG's and Mr. IGT ... play BINGO the odds are much better sometimes, depending on the quantity of tickets sold, playing; taking 90 nos. out of a spheric container has a hell of a long formula but repeats itself considering ALL nos. !

Best regards and good luck at ANY times...
George

Dear George,

You're right. If we had access to all of the data stored in a casino's slot accounting system, we could know quite a bit about a machine.

I'd be wary of drawing any conclusions from one day's data, however. Machines get so little play in a day, their daily actual paybacks can be quite far from their long-term paybacks.

Even a week's worth of data may not be enough. Some casinos publish lists of machines that paid over their long-term paybacks for the prior week.

Sometimes even a month of data is not enough. If you check the paybacks published in Casino Player or Strictly Slots, you frequently find that the high-denomination machines in some casinos paid back over 100%! No jurisdiction allows a slot machine with a long-term payback of 100% or more.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I use my ATM card everywhere and as long as I use my bank's machine, it is free. Just like my checking accounts are at Wells Fargo and Chase.

Ed

Ed is referring to a discussion we had early this year about the best way to bring money to the casino.

I prefer using lines of credit at the casino. Another good option is just withdrawing money from an ATM. The problem in Las Vegas and Atlantic City is that all of the ATMs in casinos (at least all of the ones I've used) tack on a fee of a couple of bucks.

With so many banks opening branches in so many different states, finding an ATM operated by your bank is getting easier and easier. When I worked in New York City 20 years ago, Citibank and Chase had branches all over the city, but not in Las Vegas or near my home in New Jersey. Today, I can go to a Citibank branch in Las Vegas, and there are Citibank and Chase branches in my town.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

I'm a reader of your column but only an occasional player of slots. I prefer video poker.

I read a recent letter by a gentleman named Jon and he stated, "A machine is ordered by the casino (rated and tested) to pay back a certain percentage (say, 90%) but that it may not achieve that rated payback for months or years."

That got me to thinking, I know slot floors are changed very regularly and machines are replaced just as often so would/can a casino replace a machine that has never lived up to the advertised 90% payout, or maybe move it to the back of the house where it is unlikely to get much play, therefore ensuring that over its lifetime it has made the casino more money than those that have paid out the advertised rate?

I do realize that the hot and cold machines combined probably make up the advertised 90% payout and that levels the playing field.

Rob

Dear Rob,

I think you're inferring that a machine's actual payback could be wildly off from its long-term payback. This is possible — almost a certainty for the first 10,000 spins on a machine — but less and likely as the machine gets more play. There's much more money to be made from this machine, even if the casino gets a smaller share, it from a much larger pie.

If a casino did have a machine with a lot of play that was far from its long-term payback, the casino and the regulators would suspect that the machine is malfunctioning.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

I've written before about local casinos, but this time I had to reply to the letter from "Disgruntled." Last year, a friend and I received a free overnight stay pass from Blue Chip casino in Michigan City, Indiana. We left Michigan early, checked into the hotel, then proceeded to visit Trump, Majestic Star, Horseshoe and Resorts, then back to Blue Chip.

What a trip! I went with $200, came home with $225.....after 5 casinos!! When we visited Resorts, we stopped at the office to get our Players Cards and we told the counter personnel that it was our first trip there. She was so nice and considerate. She gave us a free dinner pass to their restaurant! It was worth about $18 each. We had a great time there and at all the other casinos (evident by my starting and finishing bankroll) except the Horseshoe. Now that was our black hole. We might just as well have walked in, handed them our money and left.

I guess everyone has "good" and "bad" places they've frequented, but Resorts, in our case, is at the top of our list.

I had better luck there than at our Michigan casinos.

A Regular Reader of Your Great Column

Dear Regular Reader,

Thanks for the kind words about my column and congratulations on your good fortune.

I wish we could win every time we go to a casino, but it would be difficult for a casino to pay its employees if we did. The casino would have a lot of happy patrons — and a lot of unhappy employees.

Your experience at Resorts shows how much goodwill a relatively small gesture can make. You've probably told other people about how well you were treated there. As they say, word of mouth is the best advertising.

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 several 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
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