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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Should I play the slot machines at the end of the row?

17 September 2007

I have been told several times that it's better to play the slot machine on the end of a row or the one nearest the entrance. Is this true, or does it not matter? I have done well on the end some, and really well playing near the door. But now they changed the machines I like to play and replaced them with some "not so friendly" ones. The new machines do not/have not paid so good.

Big Bill

Dear Big Bill,

I say that it doesn't matter. You have nothing to lose by concentrating your play on those machines, but I don't think you have much to gain.

Slot directors today have a thousand or more slot machines on their slot floors and they don't have the time to micromanage their slot machines to ensure that machines with high hit frequencies are in highly visible areas. Slot directors, in addition, sometimes move machines around and following this sort of placement strategy limits their options. Slot directors today say that all of their machines in a particular denomination have roughly the same long-term payback percentage.

Years ago, some slot directors did follow this placement strategy. Frank Scoblete interviewed one such slot director in his book Break the One-Armed Bandits.

But the slot market has changed a great deal in the 13 years since that interview took place. As I said before, slot directors have many more slot machines on their floors than they did a decade or so ago. More importantly, today's slot machines are infinitely more entertaining than the machines from the 1990s. Players today will keep playing a machine to spin the Wheel of Fortune or get to the bonus round one more time. Decades ago, when the bonus round did not exist, players may have needed to see other players winning to encourage them to play and keep playing. Today's players play mainly for entertainment (according to surveys) so another player's good fortune has much less of an effect on their behavior than how much fun they're having on their machine.

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