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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Using the Stop Button

14 June 2004

Hi,

I was wondering what are the best casinos in Alantic City? And what do you think about the Slingo machine? Is there a better percentage rate when playing the $1, $0.50 or the 25-cent machines? I Love this game and I really do play the slots more then I should, but as long as my bills are paid first my husband and I love to stay at the casino and play the slots.

Also, the comp cards. Is it better to use these or not? It seems if you do and hit a couple hundred and you leave the card in that they end up taking back what you have won.

Thanks, Rhonda

Dear Rhonda,

I can't say which casino is "best" for you because I don't know what's important to you -- slot paybacks, variety of slot machines, video poker, rooms, restaurants, etc.

I haven't played the Slingo machine in a long, long time but (surprisingly) I really enjoy playing the Cyber Slingo lottery. I don't like lotteries, particularly the scratch-off games on which it takes about 10 seconds to discover the outcome. With the Cyber Slingo game, I feel like I'm getting value for my money.

As a general rule, dollar machines pay back more than half-dollar machines, which pay back more than quarter machines.

The use of a comp card has no effect whatsoever on the results on a slot machine. The reason the machines tend to take back what you've won is because they're negative expectation games--that is, they take in more than they pay out.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Just a comment about who pays to play off a jackpot. I would like to add to the thought.

If the casino forks over the money to play off the jackpot, who gets the jackpot if it comes right back?

I have seen it happen. It even happened to me. I won 400 two times in a row on a Diamound quarter machine in Tunica.

Thanks for your great articles,
Fred

Dear Fred,

I don't know if any state has regulations covering this situation. Absent any regulations, I think it depends on the circumstances.

A casino in Las Vegas used to give players the money to play off a jackpot. In this case, the players kept any winnings. I say if the casino gives you the money to play off a jackpot, you keep any money won on the spin.

On the other hand, if you refuse to play off the jackpot and leave the machine with the jackpot displayed and the casino puts in the money to play off the jackpot, you are not entitled to the money. I don't know whether the casino can just keep the money or it has to consider the money to have been abandoned by a player and subject to the found money regulations.

I have a vague recollection of seeing a slot employee play off a jackpot once. She opened the machine to get a coin to use to play off the jackpot. She hit some sort of a winning combination on the machine. She kept playing the machine until the credit meter hit zero, which took a minute or so because the kept hitting small winning combinations. As I said, it's a vague recollection and I could be completely misremembering what happened.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello,

Some of my friends think that what you win on the bonus rounds is pre-set. Is this true?

Annette

Dear Annette,

There might be some games in some jurisdictions in which the bonus amount is preset, but according to the manufacturers the amount is not preset and it does matter which fish, spaceship, or oil well you choose.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I frequent the casinos in Minnesota, Atlantic City, and, of course Vegas. I love to play a variety of video slots.

Could you tell me of all the video slots machines out today, which ones are the best to play, with the best features and graphics and best bonus features?

Thank you kindly,
Brian

Dear Brian,

You cover a pretty wide geographic area.

I'm going to give you the same answer that I give anyone else who asks me what the best is. I really can't answer that for you because I don't know what you like. For instance, maybe you like long, interactive bonus rounds. Or maybe you prefer to make a choice or two in the beginning of the round and just want to watch it play out. Or maybe you don't like interactive bonus rounds at all.

I can give some guidance, however. You'll find the best graphics on the newest games. The newest games will be on each manufacturer's newest game platform, and the newest game platform will have the better graphics than any older platform.

Finally, the best games to play are the ones you enjoy playing most.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


My wife and I both enjoy the 5-reel video slots and the many varieties available for the fun and entertainment. However, she likes to use the stop option because she believes she can influence the outcome. I, on the other hand, believe the outcome was destined when the play button was hit (time/random number generator), not anything that happens hence. Can you tell us if either are correct?

We are also glad to see many of these variety games showing up (in Biloxi, Mississippi) as variable value play... 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 cents, on the same machine. But, how are payback statistics reported for such machines so I can tell what to expect? Are any stats available that you are aware?

Don

Dear Don,

First, you are correct. The outcome of a spin is determined by a number from the Random Number Generator. The only thing that pressing the Stop button does is to cut down on how long the reels spin before stopping on the result.

As for your second question, I have to admit that it's been a few years since I looked at slot accounting software. Back then, multi-denomination machines were relatively new and the stats available from the slot accounting system were limited. If I remember correctly, the communications protocol in use at the time did not handle multiple games or multiple denominations from a gaming device, so the casinos could only see how much money was played on a machine and how much was won, but they couldn't tell how much was played on each game at each denomination.

The software and communications protocol have probably been upgraded to report play by game and denomination but, as I said, I haven't looked at the software lately so I don't know that those enhancements have been rolled out to the casinos yet.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


This summer my husband and I are going to spend a few hours each at Wheeling Downs, WV and Atlantic City, NJ (they are on the way to our final destination so we're not spending much time at either place).

Any tips on how to get the most of the short time? For example, in Atlantic City which casino is best for playing slots? And do these casinos have penny slots? I played them in Tunica and had a lot of fun on them.

Thank you for your advice and/or opinions. Continue with your column. It is a good one.

A column fan,
Bev

Dear Bev,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

I'd like to go out on a limb and say that every casino in Atlantic City has penny slots, but because I don't know that for a fact, I'll say that I know for sure that the properties owned by Caesars Entertainment (Atlantic City Hilton, Caesars, Bally's, and Claridge) have them.

I suggest you head straight for the Caesars parking garage after getting of the Expressway. You can check out Caesars and walk over to Bally's and the Claridge without ever having to go outside if the weather is nasty. Of course, if the weather is nice, you'll want to go out and walk the boardwalk.

As an alternative, you can go to the Borgata and see a little bit of Las Vegas in New Jersey.

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