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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Steve still has not hit a jackpot

29 April 2006

Dear John,

I love your column!! I can hardly wait each week to see what "tidbits" of information that you offer!!!

I go to Midway Slots in Harrington, Del. at least twice a week. The majority of the machines pay by tickets. Their nickel machines drop nickels.

Recently when playing a nickel machine (with 27 nickels) the slot attendant had to re-fill three times. I was winning a bundle!! On the third fill I noticed that there was a red light blinking on top of the machine, both while it was being filled and after the attendant closed the machine. I had never noticed on any of the other two fills that a red light was on. Also no red light came on when other machines were filled around me. I asked the attendant what the light meant and all she offered was that the light will go off after I start playing again. It did go off.

My question is, if the machine was paying so well (I had only put in $20), was it possible that the red light on top of the machine was to show the "eye in the sky" personnel to "tighten up" the machine? After the third fill there were hardly anymore bonuses and, after putting in an additional $40, it seemed to me that the machine just quit paying so I quit playing!!

Thanks for your input,
Vicki

Dear Vicki,

There is nothing the casino can do to tighten a machine while you're playing it, so the red light was definitely not to alert security to tighten the machine. Besides, security has nothing to do with the paybacks in the machines. They're there to ensure that no one is cheating and the patrons are safe. Furthermore, slots report their results back to the slot accounting system. If casinos could change a machine's payback while a machine is in use, wouldn't it make sense that they could do it without flashing a red light to alert the eye-in-the-sky?

Nevertheless, I think the red light was blinking to alert security. I suspect the slot attendant neglected to insert her ID card or enter her ID code into the machine before opening it. That's an unauthorized door opening and security may be required to investigate. In some casinos, an unauthorized door opening causes a camera to automatically zoom in on the machine.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


It's Steve from a while back. I e-mailed you here either in 2003 or 2004. I just wanted to let you know that I've been playing those damn machines for 3 and half years now and I still haven't won. The odds of hitting a jackpot are a joke, don't you think? I'm proud to say that I sent Harrah's a very nasty e-mail of what I thought of them back in March of 2004 and then they came up to me when I was there later in the month and they evicted me. It was worth it though. I am damn glad they got my message.

I've pissed thousands of bucks away at quarter machines and since the more spins you go through, the more likely you are to finally hit a jackpot, that's why I decided to now play the dollar denominations and maybe the two-dollar denominations so that with me being REALLY, REALLY likely now since I've gone so long without a jackpot, that if I hit at a two-dollar machine, I will definitely screw the casino out of a few thousand.

But keep in mind that I intend to keep my losses within my budget until the day that I finally hit. With 3 to 6 bucks per spin, I'll really have to be more careful. If I hit, I'll e-mail you back and tell you good it felt to get the last laugh and to "screw them over."

Steve

Dear Steve,

I'm sorry to hear that you still haven't hit a jackpot.

You said something that is absolutely not true. You are NOT more likely to hit a jackpot now that you've had so many non-jackpot spins. It is true that you are more likely to have hit a jackpot the more spins you've played. The probability of hitting a jackpot are the same on every spin.

You have fallen prey to The Gambler's Fallacy. You're not due to hit. Your chances of hitting a jackpot have not changed since you began. You are not "REALLY, REALLY likely" to hit a jackpot.

You may be committing bankroll suicide by playing dollar and up machines. Make sure you have the bankroll to play those machines.

Finally, I don't know what was in the e-mail you sent to Harrah's, but if the contents were so volatile that they decided you were no longer welcome on their property, maybe it's time to stop chasing a jackpot and find a different hobby.

At least take a deep breath and remember that you're supposed to be having fun when you play the slots. The results are all random. And it's possible that you may never hit a jackpot.

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 send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several 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
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