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Slots and Pacemakers

31 October 2004

By John Robison


My friend and I are both retired now and taking our first bus trip to Reno in July. We'd like to find out if there are certain casinos where the slot machines pay off more often. Some of the reviews in talk about some casinos slot machines being tight and that no one was winning.

Are there more slot machine winners in casinos that are away from the main strip?

Thank you for your suggestions.


Dear Gladys,

It's true in Las Vegas that the off-strip casinos tend to have higher slot machine paybacks than the casinos on the strip. I've never been to Reno, but my impression was that most of its casinos had relatively high paybacks. The slot payback figures printed in Strictly Slots confirm that impression.

Unfortunately, Nevada does not release paybacks by casino, so I have no way of knowing which casinos pay back more than others. I suggest you look for casinos that have plenty of high-paying video poker machines. Those casinos tend to have high-paying slots as well.

For everything there is to know about Reno, I suggest you visit

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hi, John,

Thanks for all the information about slots. My husband really believes the machines know what amount you play and most of the time only pay when you don't play the full amount. He says if he plays 3 coins all the time they don't pay, but the minute he plays one coin it hits.

I always thought it didn't matter what you played; the hit was already decided. Can understand why he thinks this because it does seem they hit the minute you don't load them.

Is there some little man in there out foxing us??? HA! HA!

Your husband should only play one coin at a time, then. The number of coins played does not affect the outcome, but playing only one coin at a time will save him money!

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,


I have been reading your articles for some time now and enjoy them very much.

I would like to ask you a question on lottery run casinos. In Delaware, they have Delaware Park, an independently owned raceway/casino, Dover Downs, which I have been told is operated by Bally's and the Harrington Raceway/Casino. Now, are the machines in these casinos fixed on when jackpots will pay out since they are controlled by the lottery service?

A friend of mine won a $50,000 jackpot on Dueces Wild when they first opened. The top jackpot payout at the time was $25,000 but because the machine had calculated the correct jackpot she should be paid, they awarded her the correct amount of $50,000. Since then, jackpots have been higher on many, many machines. You don't hear of many wins at these casinos, so I thought I would ask this question.

Keep the information coming on your tips.


Dear Cathy,

My limited understanding of the slots in Delaware is this:

The lottery service does not control the machines. The outcomes on the machines are determined by an RNG, just like the machines in Las Vegas. The machines are connected to a network that goes to lottery headquarters, but the machines merely report results. The lottery does not determine the results.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I just had a pacemaker inplant and I was wondering if going the casino would affect my pacemaker. Please advise as I love to play the slot machines.

First, please consult your cardiologist to find out what devices you should avoid being near now that you have a pacemaker.

That said, slot machines are fairly well shielded--more to keep interference from getting in than to prevent interference from leaking out--so I don't think the machines will do you any harm. But then again, I would have thought that cell phones would be safe, however we now know that certain cell phones can interfere with certain pacemakers.

As I said before, please consult your cardiologist to get a definitive answer.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I have been playing poker tournaments for 34 years. Here's an answer to your question.

The entry fee to play a tournament, includes a bit extra for the house. Example: Let's say the entry fee is $40.00. The house might take $10.00 and the other $30.00 goes into the Prize Pool. If there are re-buys during the tournament, all the re-buy money is added to the prize pool with nothing more going to the house. There are some tournaments that have no re-buys. Let's say the entry fee is $230.00. The house would take $30.00 and $200.00 would go to the prize pool. There are other permutations to tournament entry fees, such as Bounty payments. So, in our original $40.00 example you might have $10.00 for the house; $5.00 as a bounty to each player who eliminates (knocks out) another player. These bounties continue throughout the tournament. Then, only $25.00 of the original $40.00 goes into the prize pool.

Ben (Groucho)

Dear Groucho,

I don't remember what the question was, but you bet your life that's a good answer to it.

And with that, all I have left to say is:

Hello, I must be going.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at 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 two or more 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