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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Slot Hosts, Video Poker Programs

21 September 2003

Hi,

We were at the Kawartha Downs Racetrack and Slots and we played The Price Is Right Plinko game. We really enjoyed it and wanted to know if it was made in a CD-ROM form for your home computer? If you happen to know this and would be able to tell us where we could order it or buy it we would appreciate it.

Thank you in advance for your response.

Marilyn

Dear Marilyn,

To my knowledge, none of the IGT slot machines based on licensed material (game shows, movies, TV shows, etc.) are available for home computers, probably because of the difficulty in extending the license to that medium.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


My husband and I go to Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut on a regular basis. I have just been assigned a "slot host" and have been given high roller lounge passes, free tickets, etc. This is something totally new to me. Can you explain to me just what a slot host is/does and does one tip these people?

Thanks,
P.B.

Dear P.B.,

The best way to figure out what a slot host really does is to remember what their department is frequently called: Player Development. Simply put, the slot host's goal is to see that your needs and desires are met in the hopes that you will be a loyal player and, perhaps, a bigger player.

The next time you need something (a room, a meal, a ticket, etc.) give your slot host a call and he or she will most likely make the arrangements for you. It doesn't happen so much today, but in the past hosts were able to arrange off-the-books comps that weren't charged to your comp account or get you a higher comp (better room, better restaurant) even though your level of play was a little below the requirements for the comp.

Hosts are usually forbidden to accept tips, but small gifts (less than, say, $25) are usually okay. I would only give a host a gift if I were a regular visitor or the host went out of his or her way to arrange a comp. The best thing to do is to tell the host that you would like to give a gift to show how much you appreciate their assistance and ask what the casino's policy on host gifts is.

Actually, one of the best gifts you can give a host is to write a letter to his or her boss saying how welcome the host makes you feel and that he or she is one of the main reasons you come to that casino.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

I enjoy all the advice I get through your e-mail service with Casino City.

I just read a letter from someone who was going to Biloxi and wanted advice on where to go. We go there several times a year, and have found The President to be the best "paying out" casino, especially on dollar machines. They have been getting new $1 slots the past six months and we always have a great time when we go there. The staff, especially, takes very good care of you.

They have several slot tournaments a year with substantial payoffs. The Beau Rivage is a wonderful place to stay--the lap of luxury! We have also had good luck at Casino Magic and The Palace. The Palace has the most wonderful buffet on Friday nights!

Louise

Dear Louise,

Thanks for the kind words about my column and thanks for the info on Biloxi-area casinos.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi John,

We are senior citizens that visit casinos and wonder if it is better to play a quarter machine with only one quarter at a time or play a nickel machine five nickels at a time.

We are on a fixed income so we have to allow only so much for gambling but we love it.

Thanks for your articles, we enjoy receiving them. Wish we could have had some of your good advice when we were younger and could play bigger.

Thanks again,
Marlene

Dear Marlene,

Thanks for the kind words about my articles.

A few years ago, this would have been an easy question to answer. It's much more difficult today because we have to consider multi-line/multi-coin video slots in addition to traditional reel-spinning slots.

Let's compare a two different possibilities:

One quarter in any kind of slot versus five nickels in a reel-spinning slot: Quarter machines pay back more than nickel machines, so you're better off playing the quarter machine.

One quarter in any kind of slot versus five nickels in a video slot, one nickel on five lines: Even though your payback will be a little lower than playing the quarter machine, I think you're better off playing five nickels, one nickel per line, on the nickel machine. The reason is because you spread the risk over five different lines. Your money should last longer because you'll have more frequent hits.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I am an amateur slot player from Southaven, and we are inundated with commercials about how that nerd from the Grand Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, has "loosened ALL the dollar slots " there. Is there any truth to their claim, or did they just bring them to a par with other casinos?

Bob

Money Talks - Mine Says "Goodbye"

Dear Bob,

Unfortunately, Mississippi does not release slot payback figures by casino, so we can't compare the Grand's numbers with the other casinos' numbers.

Casino advertising is usually heavily regulated and I doubt Mississippi would let the Grand make the claim without having changed their paybacks. But there's no way to know how they compare with the other casinos.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi there!

I enjoy your newsletter and have a big question about slots. Is there any truth that if you have a metal or magnet you can wipe it down the side of a machine and it supposedly realigns the wheel. I can say it happened that when my watch hit the side of a machine I shortly thereafter won a $2000 jackpot. It was a friend that said he had read a story about that being the case. Is it true?

I have been having a problem with casino employees acting weird around me ever since!

Keep up the good work!
Fred

Dear Fred,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

Many years ago, before computerized slots, you could use magnets and other devices to manipulate the reels into landing on a winning combination.

Mechanical and electro-mechanical slots determined where the reels stopped and paid out accordingly. Today's computerized slots, on the other hand, use a number from the Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine the result of the spin and where the reels will stop. The program running the slot machine then controls motors in the slot to spin the reels to the proper symbols.

It doesn't really matter where the reels stop. The result of the spin is determined by the number from the RNG.

So, hitting the side of the machine with your watch didn't affect the machine at all. The jackpot you hit shortly afterwards was just the result of good luck.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


What is the best video poker software for home practice?

Also, I love to play poker for nickels, dimes, and quarters at home with friends. Often one or more of the players has to cancel playing because of other commitments. Is there a software package useful for practicing regular one-deck poker techniques?

Wanda

Dear Wanda,

The two programs I recommend for practicing video poker at home are Frugal Video Poker and Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker. Frugal VP is the newer program and has a few more features.

Sorry, I don't know of any programs that let you practice playing table poker.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


PartyPoker.com is a good website for playing poker. There are still a few glitches, but it's almost awesome.

Thanks for the info. I enjoy your column.

Wanda


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net.

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