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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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The Slot Expert's Guide to Winning at Slots and Video Poker

27 November 2000

You can hear me give my slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer with Frank Scoblete, which is broadcast live from Memphis on WHBQ over the air on 560AM and over the Internet on Yahoo! Broadcast on Saturday morning from 8-10 CT.


The expected loss formula tells how much you will lose, on the average, playing a game in a casino. If you look at this formula from the other side of the fence, that is, from the casino's point of view, it's called the expected win formula and it's how casinos pay for lights and air conditioning.

The expected loss formula is simply this: Your expected loss playing a game is the number of decisions per hour times the number of hours you play times your bet per decision times the house edge.

This series of tips deals with stretching your bankroll, that is, limiting your losses, by changing the variables in the formula.

This week, let's take another look at the third variable: how much you bet per decision.

Let's look at a not-so-hypothetical Double Diamond slot machine that pays pack 92 percent when you play one coin at a time and 94 percent when you play three coins at a time. You're better off playing three coins at a time and getting those two extra points in payback, right?

If you were to play a specific amount of action, that is true. For example, you're better off playing $1000 through a machine at 94 percent (for an expected loss of $60) than at 92 percent (for an expected loss of $80).

But slot players don't play by action, they play by time. If you're like me, you have your bankroll and you want it to last for the amount of time you want to play. So let's go back and look at playing one coin versus three in that light.

Let's say we want to play for an hour, which is about 1000 spins. At one coin per spin, we wager $1000 and expect to lose $80. But at three coins per spin, we wager $3000 and expect to lose $180. Even though we're playing at a higher payback, we expect to lose more because we wager so much more.

We talked about when it's wise to play only one coin at a time and when it isn't in a series of tips a few months ago on this website. To summarize those tips, don't play one coin at a time on progressives or on buy-a-pays.

This week's bankroll-stretching tip: Play one coin at a time.


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


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
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