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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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When should I quit a machine?

17 November 2006

Hello,

My question is very basic. When does one walk from a slot and when does one stay? If we win a fair amount, should we abandon that machine or stay with it? Is there any formula for slot machines? And which slots pay the best? And should one always play the max bet?

Let me ask you this question. After you've won that fair amount, what is different about the machine compared with when you first sat down at it? Has the virtual reel layout changed? Has any aspect of the machine's programming changed?

Nothing has changed on the machine. You have the same chance of winning on the next spin after winning a fair amount as you have after losing a fair amount, or losing a large amount, or winning a large amount. Your odds are the same on every spin regardless of what has happened in the past.

I say you should keep playing a machine as long as it keeps paying. I use a system like a trailing stop in stock trading. I keep raising my stop point as I keep winning. If my credits ever fall to my stop point, I stop. You can find more information about my technique by searching for "plateau system" on this site.

The slots that pay the best are the ones with the highest long-term paybacks.

My flippant — yet completely truthful — answer aside, higher denomination machines tend to have higher long-term paybacks then lower denomination machines, and machines in casinos that cater to locals tend to have higher long-term paybacks than the machines in casinos that cater to tourists. Within a casino, all machines of a particular denomination tend to be very close in long-term payback. There's no particular type of machine that pays the best and no particular location in the casino in which to find the best-paying machines.

Finally, you should not always bet max coin. On some machines, betting max coin will only make you lose your bankroll faster. I have a series of articles on this site about when you should and shouldn't play max coin. Search for "the best number of coins to play".

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