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Timers on Slots

4 July 2005

By John Robison

Dear Sirs,

When does the timer on slots start and how long do they run or does the timer run all the time?

I know the slots have timers because one day I was playing a slot machine and two men from the casino came over to my machine and took a board out and put a new one in. One said to the mechanic, "Did you start the timer?" What do you think about this?


Dear Bill,

I had the chance to pose your question to an official in the slot department at Fitzgerald's in Tunica. He was a guest on Rudi Schiffer's Good Times Show during my segment last week. I don't remember his name or title, so I'll just refer to him as Jim, because that is his first name.

Jim said that he didn't know exactly what the people were referring to, but he agreed with me in suspecting that they were referring to setting the clock in the machine. The software maintains a timestamped history of events on the machine, so the machine needs to know what the current time is.

Now, I noticed that your e-mail address is in Canada. It's possible that Canadian slots are required to have some sort of timer. It's also possible that the timer is used for some sort of promotion at the casino or for some sort of housekeeping function of the slot software.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

If I'm playing a slot and putting coins in as soon as the wheels stop, will the outcome change if I hesitate a few seconds before putting the next coins in?

Yes, you will get a different result, but in the long run, it won't be any better or worse than the other result. The probability of hitting any winning combination is the same no matter how long you wait.

Also, most (if not all) slot machines today choose the result of a spin once you start the game by pressing the Spin button or pulling the handle (How quaint?), not when you drop in the first coin.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

When playing video slot machines, if I hit the stop spin button, does it change the end result of that spin?

Thank you,

Dear Ed,

Pressing that button has no effect on the outcome. It just cuts down on the length of time the reels spin before stopping (called the "show" in the industry).

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

As an answer to the question posed to you recently re: nickel and penny video slots in Atlantic City, I can only speak for the Trop, but they have everything you could ever want. The entire upper level is now called "Pennies from Heaven" or some such, and all the new nickel videos are also available.

Thanks for the information. The last time I was at the Trop the upper level was called Nickel Heaven. Sort of reverse inflation, I guess.

I was sure that Atlantic City would be current with any new trend in slots, but since I didn't have firsthand information, I had to rely on reports from you and others to get the straight scoop.


We are new to slots having recently moved to Reno.

I play a lot of Deuces Wild poker. When dealt two pair, I keep only one pair and draw again. It seems to me that if I keep two pair I can only get a full house, but if I discard one pair then I might get a full house or 4 of a kind or 5 of a kind.

My wife says I'm wrong. I should keep two pair. Am I right (for a change)?

For a change, you're right. The expected value of holding just one pair is higher than that of holding the two pairs.

You can check out which combination of cards in a hand has the highest expected value using software like Jean Scott's Frugal Video Poker or Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at 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