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Best of John Grochowski

Gaming Guru

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A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

8 March 2011

Q. On slot machines, does the random principle change when you stop the spins yourself?

A. Nearly all games remain random when you stop the reels yourself. Game designers call it "illusion of skill." You feel like you have control of the game, but the random number generator has already determined your result immediately after you start the reels spinning. Your timing in stopping the reels doesn't really make any difference.

There are a couple of games that involve actual skill, in IGT's Reel Edge series. As of now, there are only two games in the series, Blood Life and Triple Red White and Blue. In those, you touch each reel to stop it individually, and you can affect the outcome. However, the reels spin very, very fast, and it is very, very, very, very difficult to make a reel stop exactly where you want it to.

I gave Blood Life a try, attempting to halt green 7s on a payline as they whizzed by. It felt like a moral victory just to stop them on screen, even if they weren't all on the same payline. Still, it did make a difference when I touched the screen. On most games that allow you to stop the reels yourself, you're stopping them all at once, and the pays you get — or don't get — have already been determined by the RNG.

Q. I had a very odd event as I colored up on the last of several sessions. I announced "color" and placed my chips, pre-counted by me to be $550, on the table. The dealer just slid them into his rack! I was dumbfounded and told him that was my color up stack, and he immediately agreed. The pit boss asked the dealer if he knew the amount — he said no. I said that I did and that the stack contained $500 in green and $50 in red for a total of $550. Then came the "conference." I was shocked to say the least.

To their credit, they paid me my $550 with very little delay but no one apologized for their error. I didn't care, I just wanted my rightful payout. Have you ever heard of such a thing happening?

A. For the benefit of those who don't play table games, "coloring up" is exchanging your chips for larger denomination chips when you leave the table. It's easier to pocket five $100 black chips and two $25 green chips for $550 than 20 green chips and 10 red $5 chips.

Now then, I don't think I've run into this situation. Had there been any resistance, you could have asked if surveillance had it on camera, but since the dealer immediately admitted the mistake, the only question was the amount of payoff. Good thing you knew exactly what you had.

What I think all of us have seen lots of times is the dealer mistakenly taking away winning bets instead of paying. I saw a roulette dealer once just dig in his heels and insist that he hadn't made a mistake on a minimum red/black bet at a dollar table with quarter chips. The player had to get a pit boss to overrule him for the sake of a buck.

Q. I've found I prefer to play Hundred Play penny video poker. I get truer odds and more rewards (and also a higher exposure of my bankroll). My question is, do you change any betting strategies when playing a 100-hand machine compared to a single-hand machine?

A. No, the odds remain exactly the same whether you're playing single-hand, Triple Play, Hundred Play or anything in between.

Look at it this way. If you were dealt a flush that included four parts of a royal on a single-hand game, you'd go for the royal, right? It's not a close call. On 9/6 Jacks or Better, the return for holding ace-king-queen-10-7 of hearts is a flat 30 coins for a five-coin bet, but if you toss out the 7 and hold just ace-king-queen-10, the average return is 91.8 coins.

If you were dealt that hand 100 separate times, the best play would be to go for the royal every time.

Hundred Play just gives you those 100 hands all at once, with the same odds.

Of course, the temptation is strong when that dealt flush is on the Hundred Play screen to just take all 100 flushes and their total payback of 3,000 credits. But on each of those 100 draws, you have a 1 in 47 chance of completing the royal, and if any one comes through, you have a 4,000 coin payoff that beats the dealt flush total all by itself.

There's a risk that you won't draw any royals, but the risk-reward ratio is all in favor of making the same play on Hundred Play that you would on a single-hand game. So it goes with every strategy decision. Playing more hands doesn't change that risk-reward ratio.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski