CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Related Links
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Where Have Those Payback Signs Gone?

6 December 2004

Dear John,

What does "nudge"/nudging" mean in playing slot machines? How does a person "nudge" a machine?

"Nudge" is the technical term for when a symbol lands above or below the payline, and then moves to the payline. An example of a machine with the nudge feature is IGT's Double Diamond Deluxe. When a bar symbol with a diamond on it lands just above or below the payline, that bar symbol moves ("nudges") to the payline.

If you look at the programming of the machine, you'll see that there's nothing special about the symbols that nudge. There is something special about the blanks above or below the nudge symbol. When the machine sees that one of these blanks lands on the payline, it knows to nudge the reel up or down one stop.

There was a machine a number of years ago that had a manual nudge feature. When certain symbols landed on the payline, the player could nudge one reel up or down one stop. I know Caesars Atlantic City used to have them. I vaguely recall seeing them in another casino, but they were never very popular and, I think, disappeared from slot floors.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

My question is about the type of slots at Indian Casinos. I live in Hollywood, Fl. and have gone to the Seminole Casinos and the new Hard Rock Casino (which was built on reservation-owned land) and they both have the type of slots that are hooked into a type of group Bingo game.

The casinos are both confusing and horrible in their win to loss ratio. The machines only have a button to start play and it seems to take an unusually long time for the wheels to engage, which I would imagine allows the RNG to run longer.

It seems to me that they have very poor returns for the amount of plays. I have tried to ask for the win return percentage, but those in charge at the casinos either don't know or don't want to make that information public. I was wondering if you had any insight as to their payback percentage. I never seem to fail to do much better at the local casino ships than I do at the Indian's casinos.

Thanks in advance,
Tom

Dear Tom,

The type of games you described are known as Class II games. As you described, Class II machines are really Bingo drawings under the hood. As such, these machines do not have RNGs. They have to wait for a central server to perform the Bingo drawing and send the results down to each machine.

As I understand it, Native American tribes are allowed to offer Class II games as long as it is permitted in the state. In what may be a gross over-simplification, if the Catholics can offer Bingo, so can the Comanches.

And, as I understand it, Native American casinos with Class II games need not reveal their payback percentages. They also tend to have little competition because of their remote locations, so they don't have to compete with other casinos on paybacks.

Because you said you do better on the casino ships, my advice to you is to vote with your wallet and play on the ships.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

Love your column.

I have a question/complaint about the new slot play all the machines seem to be going to... the print out ticket!

I think this is horrible for the player, makes it much harder to skip around machines, also to play multiple machines at once. I'd like your thoughts on this.

Thanks,
Carol

Dear Carol,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

Even though I'm 100% in favor of ticket systems in slots, I will admit that the systems are not without their problems. For one, when the machines don't take coins, it makes it impossible for players to slow down by cashing out frequently and feeding coins instead of playing credits. I have also received letters from visually impaired players who say that the systems make it more difficult for them to play.

Many years ago, Max Rubin wrote about playing slot marathons. A slot marathon is playing all one spin on all slots of a particular denomination in a casino. I've played a number of these in the past. It was really easy and fast to drop a few coins in a machine and see what happens. If I had had to deal with tickets instead of coins, I wouldn't have had to carry a bucket of coins with me, but I would have spent a lot more time inserting bills or tickets and waiting for tickets to print.

The benefits of ticket systems far outweigh the few problems. Ticket systems are the future and there's no turning back now.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

At two different casinos in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the past month the staff came over without being called (or so they say) to put coins into my 25-cent slot machine.

The first time it happened to me, I was doing great and getting all sorts of credits until they came to put money in my machine. My friends told me that the reason they come over is because the machine is to due to payoff so they come to reset it.

Upon becoming aware, at the second casino, I refused to let them touch my machine. I started playing the machine after an older gentlemen had put hundred of dollars into the machine. When casino staff came to me this time to put money in my machine, I said "this is my money, I did not call you, I am not cashing in my credits (75 at the time), you can put the money in after I finish my credits, it will only be a few minutes". The security demanded that I stop playing. When I refused again, they called in security. I had no choice but to let them do whatever to the machine. After they did, the machine was lousy. It was not as generous as before.

I spoke to several security staff that night and they said the casino can do whatever they want because they own it and these are the rules. I told them that was very dishonest because people come to try their luck to win and when the casino does this, it's cheating the people right in their faces.

John, please let me know your comments. I'm very upset at casinos right now and am refusing to go back to this casino. I realize that it's hard to win from the one-armed bandits, however this tactic of theirs is very dishonest and unfair!!

Christine

Dear Christine,

I assume when you say they put coins into your machine, you mean that they filled the hopper in the machine. Before we figured out that ticket systems were the way to go, some casinos installed systems that would alert them when hoppers were getting low so they could do a "preemptive" hopper fill instead of waiting for a player to drain it dry.

I'm surprised they did it while you were playing because the whole idea of the preemptive fill is to keep players playing and not waiting. The fills are usually done during the graveyard shift. But then again, some jurisdictions require many witnesses for a fill and it's faster to get it done now when all the participants are available.

As I've said to many people in the past, when you feel you've been mistreated by a casino, write them a letter telling them what happened. And then vote with your feet and play somewhere else if they don't rectify the situation.

In any case, filling the hopper has no effect on the results you get from a machine. It's just coincidental that the machine went cold after the casino filled its hopper.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


When I first started going to Vegas a few years ago, I noticed a few slots had a sign above the machine saying the percentage of payout, like 98%. Now the last few times I have been in Vegas I have noticed the signs are gone. Why?

Susan

Dear Susan,

I think there are a number of reasons why payback signs are less prevalent today.

First, many players ignored them. Circus Circus used to (and may still) have a rotating carousel of 98%+ payback machines. I used to see times when that carousel was empty and people were playing machines for which there were no payback claims. If casinos are going to tell players where the good deals are and the players are going to ignore the advice, why should the casinos bother?

Second, many players misunderstand what payback is. It's tough to convince someone that a machine on which he has just lost $500 is a 98% payback machine.

Finally, and I think this is the main reason, casinos don't need claims of high payback to get people to play machines. Years ago, the only incentive to play a machine was to win money. Today, we still want to win money, but we also want to be entertained. And today's machines are very entertaining. We're pouring millions of dollars into nickel machines because we want to get to that bonus round just one more time -- despite the fact that these nickel machines tend to have very low paybacks (say, 88%-92%) even though we're betting dollars per spin in many cases.

Payback just isn't the selling point it used to be.

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