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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

26 June 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.


This question comes up at every seminar and it has even been asked a few times the last couple of months on the radio show: When should I switch machines?

Last time, I talked about the positive side of this question: How long should I keep playing a hot machine? This time, the dark side: How long should I keep feeding a cold machine in the hopes that it will start to pay off?

Slot machines should have warnings on them like mutual funds: "Past performance does not indicate future performance." There's no way to tell when the cold streak will end and the machine will start paying again. In fact, the odds of hitting any winning combination, even the jackpot, are the same on every spin. Just because a machine has been colder than winter in Siberia, it doesn't mean that it won't pay the jackpot on the very next spin.

And just because a machine has been ice cold, it doesn't mean it's going to warm up anytime soon. I once fed bills into an RWB like fast food into a teenage boy trying to ride the machine through a cold spell. And this was a dollar machine and I was playing $3 per spin. I waved goodbye to Dr. Franklin more times than the Continental Congress. Of course, the machine next to mine was hitting right and left. The lady playing that machine even said, "Your machine owes you."

As further proof that cold spells can be long-lived, I once went 72 spins without a hit on a Lucky 7s machine.

There's no way to determine when a machine will cool off or when it will heat up. The decision on when to give up on a cold machine is an emotional one. If you're getting frustrated by the machine's miserliness, it's time to move on.

The key to avoiding chasing your losses on a cold machine is to have a plan before you start to play. Here's one plan: Take your session money and divide it in half. If you are unlucky enough to lose half your session money to a machine, it's decision time. Either quit that machine or play the other half. If you had a few hits on the way down, you may want to try playing the other half of your session money. But again, the outcomes are all random and a few hits near the halfway mark don't mean the machine is going to warm up for you.

Another plan is to set a losing spin limit. If you ever hit, say, five losing spins in a row, it's time to find another machine. Pick a number that matches your bankroll and your personality. The larger your bankroll, the higher your losing spin limit can be. And the more aggressive your personality, the higher your losing spin limit can be.

Of course, you can combine the two plans to have a powerful bankroll preservation plan.


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
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