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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Should I play a machine that has just hit?

9 April 2007

My question is about the bingo slot machines used in Oklahoma. They say they pay on bingo numbers only, but it will appear as a normal line pay. On these machines you have to play with a player's card. Your money is actually on the cards.

Can they track your winnings and more or less stop any more payouts if a substantial amount has been won?

My husband put money in a machine to go on his card. The machine took the money but did not register on his card. The attendant didn't see the bill stuck in the machine so he left and came back with a printout. It showed every time my husband's card was put in or taken out of a machine.

How much control does a computer have on whether you win or not? Are the bingo type slots as random as the slots in Las Vegas?

Thanks,
Debbie

Dear Debbie,

Players' club systems can track your winnings — and tracking is all they do. The systems do not influence your results in any way. Players' club systems can't cause a machine to hit a winning combination if you've been doing poorly, and they can't cause a machine to not hit if you've been doing well.

Similarly, the stored value card you described also has no effect on your results. The card is used only to provide the money to play the machine. The casino's system may track when the card was used, but it doesn't influence the results on the machines.

Class II (bingo) slots are just as random as Class III slots (the slots in Las Vegas).

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi! I absolutely love reading your column since I am new to playing slots.

Last night at Mohegan Sun around midnight, a gent hit over $9k for a triple triple diamond $1 machine. He said he put in a $130 ticket, and with $90 left in the machine, he hit!

My question is: Once a hit like this happens, is it reasonable to go on that machine? What is the rule of thumb?

I was tempted, but thought I'd ask you first.

Keep up the great articles. I look forward to them.

Helene

Dear Helene,

Thanks for the kind words about my articles.

What has happened in the past has no effect on what will happen in the future on a slot machine. Your chances of hitting any particular winning combination are the same on every spin.

The rule of thumb that many players follow is to not play machines that have recently hit a big payoff. That's why many casinos ask you to play off a jackpot so the combination doesn't remain on the reels.

There's no mathematical basis for this rule of thumb, so you can choose either to play or avoid machines that have recently hit without affecting your long-term results one bit.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Thank you for all the questions you have answered in the past and hopefully will in the future!

Now, I have two questions for you:

1) When a casino changes the chips or wants to reprogram their machines you state that there has to be a gaming representative there. Is this a real person or can this be done with forms filled out and sent in to the Gaming Board?

2) Does the same apply to Indian casinos? I live in California and I see machines changed and payouts changed a lot but I don't think they have to tell anybody.

What are your thoughts about my questions?

Edith

Dear Edith,

1. It depends on the jurisdiction. In Nevada, casinos can change the payback chip themselves if they have a Manufacturer's License, which most if not all casinos do. They only have to report the change to the state. In other jurisdictions, the change either has to be witnessed by or actually done by someone from the gaming regulator's office.

2. What evidence do you have that the paybacks have been changed? In any case, I'm not familiar with California's regulations, but states want to ensure that casinos are reporting the total slot win, so I'm sure that Class III casinos in California have to report payback changes to the state.

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