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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

6 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 look at the first variable: the number of decisions per hour.

Anthony Curtis, owner of Huntington Press and publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, put it succinctly: "In negative expectation games, speed kills."

The more quickly you play, the more decisions there are per hour. And when the casino has the edge over the player, the larger the bite the casino will take out of the player's bankroll. That's why the casinos make it easy for you to play fast by hitting the spin button instead of pulling the handle and why some table-game dealers deal their games in warp speed.

Of course, the opposite conditions apply when you have the edge over the casino and speed is your friend then. That's why video poker pros play two machines at once as fast as they can. The more hands they play, the more money they make--in the long run.

Since the vast majority of us have to buck a house edge, let's look at ways we can slow down the pace of the games we play. Slot and video poker players have it easy, since they alone control the pace of their games. Frank listed a number of ways to slow down the pace when playing a machine in his book Break the One-Armed Bandits and his tape Slot Conquest. Some of these ways include playing coins instead of credits, pulling the handle instead of pressing the spin button, pressing the bet one button a few times and then the spin button instead of pressing the bet max button, taking a little extra time to look at your video poker hand, and checking your video poker strategy card more frequently. And how about this one? If you're in the casino with a friend, alternate spins or hands. You watch your friend spin the reels or play the hand, then your friend watches you. You've cut the number of decisions per hour in half with very little effort and, maybe, you'll even have more fun.

Table game players can't do much to control the pace of their games. If you're head-to-head with the dealer, you can try engaging the dealer in conversation. The more players at a table, the fewer decisions per hour. So you can look for crowded tables. Finally, consider craps. Although there are a mind-numbing array of bets at craps and the action seems fast-paced, depending on the bets you make, there are only a few numbers that will result in a decision, so there are not many decisions per hour.

This week's bankroll-stretching tip: Slow down the pace of the game.


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