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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Wheel of Fortune Paybacks

26 September 2005

My husband and I are going to Vegas in October. I love to play video poker and he likes the regular slots. I always play the full amount on the machine.

My question is: Are the cards you draw really determined by what you keep in your hand or is it already set in the machine? I hope I'm making myself clear.

Thank you,
Annie

Dear Annie,

This is the way modern machines operate. When you press the Deal button, the machine chooses five cards at random and displays them. It continues shuffling its electronic deck until you press the Draw button, at which time it chooses cards at random to replace your discards.

Good luck in Las Vegas,
John


I happened across your webpage and I think that it's a great resource to someone like me who is new to slots.

Question: I'm hooked on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine. I've played them on my last few trips to Horseshoe in Bossier City. I've noticed that at times, I'll play the maximum number of coins and it may be over 100 and sometimes over 150 pulls before I get the "Spin" wheel on the third wheel. Other times, I've had the spin wheel come up two or three times in a row. Also, it seems that when the spin wheel is coming up quite often on a machine, that the top wheel will usually land on a low payout (25 or 30 coins). Are most of the Wheel of Fortune machines set to pay approximately the same amount, or are some set to payout on a higher percentage?

Also, is my time and money better spent on a different machine? I like to play 25 cent and dollar machines?

Thanks in advance,
Kevin

Dear Kevin,

I believe that all of the Wheel of Fortune machines of a particular type and denomination have the same long-term payback, but IGT doesn't share their PAR sheets with me so I don't know for sure.

The wheel lands on a low payout more often than a high one because the segments of the wheel are not equally likely to land under the pointer. The low ones are weighted to land more than the high ones. Just the reel-spinning game uses virtual reels, the wheel-spinning game uses a virtual wheel to alter the probabilities.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, I play in Thunder Valley Casino Roseville, California. My question is about Wild Haywire Deluxe's virtual layout. Is it possible for one machine to have more double bar hits or single bar hits than the same machine an aisle away? In other words, can one machine have different types of hits come up more frequently than an other?

Thanks,
Mike

Dear Mike,

Absolutely. It is definitely possible for two seemingly identical machines to have different playing characteristics. Most games have multiple long-term payback programs available for them.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Is there any way I can find out about slot tournaments?

Yes, you can search on this site for articles about slot tournaments. You can call your favorite casinos to ask them if they have any slot tournaments coming up. You can also check magazines like Casino Player and Strictly Slots, your local newspapers, and any giveaway magazines that may be available in your area for notices about slot tournaments.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I would like to offer a basic strategy for playing fifteen-line video slot machines. Please let me know if you agree.

First of all, when playing fifteen lines on a video slot machine, even if one or two lines happen to pay off, there are still thirteen lines that generally will not. So even if a player wagers one nickel per line, at least thirteen nickels (65 cents) will still go to the house every time, win or lose! That gives the house a huge advantage!

And the worst part is that winning lines are only paid based on a single nickel wager (even though the player is actually wagering 75 cents!), so players do not stand to win much on any given payout.

So to offset this house advantage, I have two recommendations:

First,if you prefer to play all fifteen lines, only play machines that feature numerous "wild symbols" because they offer the possibility of receiving payouts on numerous lines simultaneously ("Enchanted Unicorn" is a good example).

Second, if you prefer to play fewer lines, look for bonus rounds that pay based on your line bet and not your total wager. That way, your bonus rounds will still pay at the same rate regardless of your overall wager ("Winning Bid" is a good example).

Please let me know your thoughts on this strategy.

Without seeing the PAR sheets for the machines, it's impossible to give a definite, mathematical answer. I think there's nothing wrong with your recommendations, but of course they have no impact on the house edge. A 95% payback machine is a 95% payback machine, regardless of whether there are wild symbols on the machine or what the bonus rounds are based on.

Your basic premise, however, is flawed. You state that "at least thirteen nickels will still go to the house every time, win or lose" is not true. And the house does not have as huge an advantage as you think. The house edge is whatever it is based on the layouts of the reels and the probabilities in the bonus rounds.

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 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
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