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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

23 January 2001

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.


Frank and I always advise people never to gamble more just to get a comp. There's no sense in betting more than you normally do or playing longer and, possibly, losing much more than the comp would have cost out-of-pocket just to eat or sleep for free.

There's a very important word in our advice. It is "more." It's perfectly okay to gamble for a comp if you can afford the losses you might incur while going for the comp and getting the comp is worth more to you than your expected loss.

For example, you qualify for the casino rate at Treasure Island in Las Vegas when you earn at least 50 slot club points per day. That's $1,500 in video poker action. I make sure I earn at least that many points per day whenever I play at Treasure Island. The best video poker games they have pay back a little over 99%. My expected loss is $15, but my actual loss could be much greater, perhaps a few hundred dollars. Nevertheless, come hell or high water, I always earn at least 50 points per day when I play there. I'm willing to accept the risk in order to get a discount on the room rate and whatever other privileges may come with being a casino-rate player there.

The key is to not get caught in the trap of playing beyond the point where it is no longer fun or betting more than you normally do just to get the comp. Table game players frequently tell the story of asking a pit boss for a comp and being told to play "just a little longer." A few minutes later, the pit boss tells them that they're "close, play a little longer." And the players keep playing and maybe they even up their bets just to get enough action to earn the comp.

Slot players can get caught in a similar trap. They may know how points it takes to earn some comp and go on long playing sprees or jump up in denomination to earn the points for the comp. The problem for both types of players in these situations is that they are betting more than they normally would have.

When you can afford the expected loss and the comp is worth the expected loss, go for it. Over the next few weeks, we'll look at ways to minimize your risk while playing for the comp.

This week's tip: As a general rule, don't play for a comp unless you can afford the expected and potential loss you could incur while going for it and the comp is worth it to you.


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:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
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