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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Slot and Video Poker Player's New Year's Resolutions

1 January 2002

It's that time of year again, time for New Year's resolutions. Here are my New Year's resolutions for slot and video poker players:

I will bet an amount per spin that is appropriate for my bankroll. If you have a $50 bankroll and want to try the $10 slots at two coins per pop, go ahead but don't expect to get a lot of play time. You better bring along a good book to read so you have something to do while your friend who gave you a ride to the casino continues playing. I find that having 100 times the amount I bet per spin is usually enough to get me through an evening at the casino even when my luck is poor.

I will remember that no machine is ever due. I once went over 70 spins on a machine without a hit. Another time, after I waved goodbye to Ben Franklin more times than the Continental Congress, the little old lady playing next to me said, "That machine owes you, Sonny. It's been bleeding you dry." If any machines were ever due, these two I played were certainly two of them. And neither one turned hot before I gave up on them. The same advice holds for bad luck streaks. Bad luck and cold machines will definitely change, the problem is that we can't predict when.

I will accept my losses. This resolution goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. It's tempting to extend yourself and keep playing in an attempt to recoup past losses--after all, your luck is bound to change--and some people even increase their wagers so they can get even more quickly once their luck changes. But, as I said before, there's no way to know when luck will change. Lost money is lost money. Keep your losses in check so you can come back another day.

I will be a graceful loser. No one likes to lose money, but believe me it's nothing personal between you and the machine or the dealer. I know someone who has had to leave a casino very quickly because he got upset when a spin resulted in a near miss and he smacked the machine and broke the glass. If you ever find yourself in this position, playing is no longer fun and you should stop and take a breather.

I won't begrudge others their good fortune. This is the only resolution I stated in the negative because I can't figure out how to put it in the positive. I don't really expect you to celebrate someone else's good fortune, unless it's your spouse's good fortune and you're going to share in it. The bottom line is, though, that unless you're both chasing the same progressive jackpot, someone else's good fortune doesn't affect you at all. My hot-tempered friend I mentioned before has had to leave casinos more than once because he used a machine as a punching bag. One time was when someone near him hit a jackpot while he was losing.

I will join the slot club. I'm still amazed at the number of people I see playing without slot club cards. The sole purpose of these clubs is to gain your loyalty by giving you stuff like free rooms and meals, gifts, and cold, hard cash. I know many people who lose money on their gambling, but make up their losses and then some in slot club cashback and other benefits.

I will use my slot club card whenever I play. I'm even more amazed at people who have slot club cards and then don't use them when they play. The casino has to know how much you play in order to give you everything you're due. If you forget your card, spend a few minutes in line to get another one.

I will learn everything I can about the slot clubs to which I belong. Talk to slot hosts and booth reps if you have any questions. Pick up the slot club brochure every few months or when you know there is a change in a club just to make sure you're up to date. In addition, sometimes other players are willing to compare what they get from a club with what you get, especially on the Internet bulletin boards where there is some degree of anonymity. Finding out what other players get can help you decide whether it's worthwhile giving a casino more of your play.

I will write a nice letter to the casino when they do something I don't like. If something goes wrong during a casino visit or your casino removes your favorite machines or changes something for the worse, write a nice letter to tell them what you don't like. I know of many slot clubs that have had to undo some changes because members didn't like them. Remember that if something bothers you, it bothers 20 other people too, and the casino will never know what's wrong unless someone tells them. The key to an effective letter is to stick to the facts and leave your emotions out of it.

I will write a nice letter to the casino when they do something I like. In addition to tipping them well, you can reward casino employees who give you stellar service by writing a letter saying how well they have treated you and how important they are to your enjoyment of the casino. This sort of letter is best sent to the employee's supervisor and it can really make a difference when raises are given out.

I will learn to play video poker. Video poker has one big advantage over slot machines--you can tell the long-term payback of a video poker machine from its paytable. Recognizing the high-paying paytables is only part of the battle, you also have to learn the proper strategy to use while playing that paytable. But once you do, you'll usually enjoy a long-term payback that is a few percentage points higher than slot machines of the same denomination.

I will only play with money that is earmarked for entertainment purposes. This is the most important resolution of all. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the casino and chase your losses or live the high life of free room, food and booze. But you can't pay the rent with money you don't have or with a comp slip to the buffet. Unless you have the odds in your favor, and very few people in the casino do, gambling makes a lousy investment. Make sure you have all of your monetary responsibilities covered before you allocate money for the 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
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