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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Tips for Video Poker Tournaments

13 May 2004

Hi, John:

Love your column, and have learned quite a bit about Video Poker and Slots from your writings and knowledge. Thank you.

I was invited to a Video Poker Tournament in a few weeks in Atlantic City. Do you have any strategies for me to increase my chances of winning?

I have no idea if it will be Jacks or Better, Joker Poker or Double Bonus, but being a gambling woman, I am betting Jacks or Better...

I feel I am a pretty decent and fast player.

Royally yours,
Chickey

Dear Chickey,

You're welcome.

It would be nice if the tournament organizers would give you more information about the tournament. As you mentioned, it would useful to know the paytable on the machines so you could learn and practice the strategy for it.

It would also be useful to know if the sessions are limited by hands, time, or both. Most Video Poker Tournaments have sessions are based on time, and a good many also limit the number of hands per session. That's good to prevent the faster players from playing more hands than the slower players.

If the sessions are only time limited, play as fast as you can. If they're both time and hand limited, slow down but play quickly enough to ensure you play all the hands you're given.

Friends who have more experience playing in Video Poker Tournaments than I have tell me that the winners aren't necessarily players who play every hand correctly, but the ones who play all the hands they can. They tell me not to spend a lot of time trying to look for cards to hold. If there's nothing obvious, get five new cards.

Another thing to consider is that you're playing in the short run. You can make plays that you normally wouldn't make on the casino floor. For example, in 9/6 Jacks, you're better off in the long run holding a high pair over a 3-card royal. In the tournament, you might be better off going for the royal because you'd be almost guaranteed to win the session.

Best of luck in the tournament,
John


We are going to Las Vegas and we were wondering if we can bring our 2-way radios in the casinos--not for cheating, but for telling someone in our party where we are going.

Thank you,
Joe

Dear Joe,

I've heard of people using them without any problems and also people being told they couldn't use them. Don't use them in the sports book, keep your conversations short, maybe even step away from the table to acknowledge a message, and I think you won't have any problems.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

I' ve played the nickels slots at Table Mountain and Chukchanski in Central California and do fair at both places, which was better than when I was in Reno where I was feeding the nickel machines as if they were buffet slots.

I'm on my way to Viva Las Vegas at the end of the month and you've mentioned hitting the places where locals play rather than the big boys and was wondering if you could drop some names of these local places.

Thanks,
Phil

Dear Phil,

Just about any casino not on the strip or in downtown is a locals casino--for example, the Arizona Charlies casinos, and any casino owned by Station Casinos or Coast Casinos. The Palms is also known for its high paybacks.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi,

I am new to your site and perhaps you have already answered this question in a previous issue. I think I understand randomness and all that stuff in slots machines. What gets my attention is that the results seem to me more like programmed outcomes than random outcomes. If not, why do you see so many winning combinations in the non-paying lines? The appearance of winning combinations in the non-paying lines is outrageous! If they were truly random, the frequency of winning combinations in the non-paying lines should be about the same as in the pay lines.

Am I wrong?

Thanks,
Luciano

Dear Luciano,

Sorry, but you are wrong.

The reason you see so many near misses above the payline is because the stops below those symbols appear so many times on the virtual reels. For example, the single bar symbol may appear twice on the virtual reel, but the space below it may appear four times. It is thus twice as likely to have the single bar land above the payling than on it.

Each symbol on the reel is not equally likely to land on the payline. It all depends on how the virtual reels are laid out.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I am very interested in purchasing the Price Is Right slot machine. I have several questions:

1) Where would I buy it?

2) How much does it cost?

I attempted to look on the internet where to purchase it, but could not find anything. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Scott

Dear Scott,

Your first step is to determine if it is legal for you to own a slot machine in your state. I don't know where you live, so I suggest you check the chart at www.royalbell.com.

If it is legal, you have to decide if you want a new machine or a used one. A new one will set you back about $10,000. New or used, you can contact IGT's sales office and ask them to help you purchase a machine.

That's if the machines are even for sale. IGT, and the other manufacturers, make some machines available on a profit-sharing basis only. I don't know offhand if the Price Is Right machines fall into this category.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. 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 two or more 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
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