Issue 262
September 19 - September 25, 2005
Volume 5
page 3

Winner at Slots Gets Heat
By John Robison


Do slot machines just sit there running random combinations constantly when idle or just when been played? I have always been curious as to is this random win programed at the say 803 pull of machine or maybe it is just the 488 minute the machine has sat there. For instance, if I had sat at a machine and played slower maybe had been there when random combination clicked in or maybe had I played 6 more pulls would I have hit?

Also you used to have better luck at $5 machines, seemed like they were looser. Now everybody plays them like dollars and $10 machines like they used to the $5 and they aren't as loose now. Do you think the $25 and $100 machines are looser now? Do you think it is better to play maximum coin on a $25 or one coin on a $100 machine?

Also I have read machines are looser close to change cages and ATM machines in almost every book but there is difference of opinion on machines next to tables. Some say they are loose so table players will hear wins and be enticed to get off tables others said they are tighter because they know table players will drop in coins as they come and go from tables. Which is it?

Thanks for your column, really enjoy it. Do you have a book published with advice for slot players?


Dear Nedra,

Modern slot machines generate new random combinations even when they're idle. Wins are not programmed to occur on a certain pull or after a certain number of minutes. There's no way to predict when a hit will occur. You might have had better luck had you played more slowly simply because the machine would have polled the RNG to get the results of your spins at different times. You might have hit something had you played six more pulls. There's no way to know for sure.

I haven't done any research on this, but I don't think there's been any significant, industry-wide change in the paybacks of the higher-denomination machines. As for whether it's better to play max coin on a $25 machine or one coin on a $100 machine, the answer depends on how many coins is max coins. As a general rule, we'd expect to have a higher payback on the $100 machine, so you're better off playing $100 per spin on the $100 machine than $100 per spin on the $25 machine.

But if max coin is less than $100 per spin on the $25 machine, then you're better off playing $50 or $75 per spin on it. The reason is because even though the payback is higher on the $100 machine, it's not sufficiently higher to offset the greater risk of $100 per spin as opposed to $50 or $75 per spin.

Finally, I think the machine placement advice is outdated. It is true that every slot director will have his or her own slot floor philosophy, today's slot directors order roughly the same payback percentage for each of their machines in a particular denomination.

Slot directors may have ordered different percentages and played placement games when slots weren't as entertaining as they are today and when they had only a few hundred slots to manage. Now that they have a few thousand slots to deal with, they don't have the time to micromanage them.

I do have a book out (Thanks for asking!). It's called The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

About the Author

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a video poker columnist and writes 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 with Frank Scoblete, which is broadcast from Memphis on WMC 790AM Saturday morning from 9:30 to noon Central Standard Time. John is on the show from 10:30 to 11:00. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by the Author

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots

Learn the secrets of today's new slots--how they work, what they pay, and how to play 'em! The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots is packed with powerful information on choosing a machine, payout percentages, slot myths, the value of systems, taxes on jackpots, tipping, using slot clubs, and more. Included are strategies for Double Diamond, Wild & Loose, Wild Cherry, Red White & Blue, Sizzling 7s, Blazing 7s, Wheel of Gold, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Price Is Right, Scrabble, Megabucks, Wheel of Fortune, Millionaire Sevens, and almost any machine on the casino floor. Use the Slot Expert's tips to last longer and have more fun playing today's most popular slot machines.

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