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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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When Wheel of Fortune Machines Hit at the Same Time

21 March 2005

Slot machines are the only thing I play. I have noticed many times while playing Wheel of Fortune that it seems if one machine in the row is hitting, then we're all hitting at just about the same time for the same length of time. Then they all go cold at just about the same time too. I realize they are randomly programmed, but it just seems like they run hot and cold at the same time. Why is this?

Love your column.

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

I think the phenomenon you described doesn't happen as often as you think it does. We have very selective memories and will sometimes ignore evidence that is contrary to our view of the world. If you watched a group of Wheel of Fortune machines and kept careful track of their "temperatures," I'm sure you'll find that sometimes all machines are cold, sometimes all machines are hot, and sometimes one or more machines are hot while the others are cold.

Now, you didn't say this, but some people may say that the machines can't be random because they're sometimes in sync with each other. These occasional runs of synchronicity do not prove the machines are not random, just as a streak of heads or tails does not prove that a tossed coin is not fair. Patterns, in fact, must occur in a random event because they are a possible outcome.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi,

I live in Dover, Delaware. There ia a casino at Dover Downs. What is your opinion about that casino being a good one to play? I have learned machines have been "tightened" to reduce payouts. I've won money there and kept it.

Slots are not a favorite of mine as statistically the players are donators.

Any comments you care to share are appreciated.

Myles

Dear Myles,

I have not been to Dover Downs, so I don't have any opinions based on firsthand experience. I did hear the management of Dover Downs speak a few years ago around the time they did a big expansion, and they seemed to be attuned to what players want and concerned about making a place players would feel comfortable playing in.

I looked in Strictly Slots to see if I could find some payback numbers for their slots, but Delaware isn't listed so I assume they don't release their numbers to the public.

Now, as to whether the casino is a good one to play in, I have to ask you if you like playing there. Do you feel comfortable in the casino? Do you like the selection of machines? Does the slot club give you rewards that you can earn and use? Do you like the non-casino aspects of the property, i.e., parking, restaurants, etc.? If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, this is probably a good casino for you. If your answers were "no," then you should probably play somewhere else.

Who told you that the machines were "tightened?" Here are some possibilities in order of increasing credibility: other players, slot floor personnel and hosts, slot director.

Other players are the least reliable source for this sort of information. All they have to go on is incomplete empirical evidence--that is, watching the machines. The slot floor personnel have somewhat better evidence because they've watched the machines for a much longer time than the players. Still, they don't always know exactly what's going on. The people who have the best information are the people in casino management. After all, they're the ones who made the decision to change the paybacks!

One more comment: Unless they have found some way to get the odds in their favor, all players are donators.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John:

Are you aware of the payout for video poker Jacks or Better at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun? I have played at the Rhode Island "facilities" and the payout is 6/5.

Thank you,
John

Dear John,

Whenever I need to know whether a casino has full-pay video poker machines, I check Skip Hughes' Video Poker Homepage (www.vphomepage.com). It's a pay site, but it has a ton of information that isn't available elsewhere.

According to Skip's site, both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have 9/6 Jacks or better, but only at $5 (and $100 for Foxwoods). I don't know the paytables for the lower denominations, just that they're not 9/6.

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