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Best of John Robison
Was I Just Lucky or Did the Casino Loosen Its Machines?22 January 2005
Thanks for the kind words about my column and congratulations on your good fortune in Las Vegas.
Your first question was whether casinos can change slots based on the crowd in town at the time. There have always been rumors that the casinos would tighten their machines then the old big computer show (COMDEX) was in town because the computer nerds didn't gamble and there were so many of them in town for the convention that there weren't any rooms left for the real gamblers.
The truth is that casinos can change the paybacks on their slot machines, but it's a time-consuming process that involves changing a chip in each machine. No casino changes the paybacks on their machines just because a particular convention is in town. You had a streak of good luck and let's hope that it continues for a long, long time.
Your second question is whether the odds are different for the different denominations. That is definitely true. Higher denomination machines usually have higher long-term paybacks than lower denomination machines.
Keep in mind that long-term payback has nothing to do with hit frequency. Penny and nickel video slots usually have very high hit frequencies and also low paybacks when compared with higher denomination, reel-spinning machines.
Also keep in mind that the RNG has nothing to do with hit frequency or long-term payback. The RNG just generates numbers. The virtual reel layouts determine the hit frequency and long-term payback.
I'm glad you like the ticket systems. Although I've been in favor of them 100% since they were first introduced, I know many people who didn't like the idea of them at all. Almost every one of those people were converted however once they had a chance to experience a ticket system. In fact, the ticket system is the most quickly adopted slot innovation in history.
Best of luck in and out of the casnos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at email@example.com. 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.
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Best of John Robison