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Best of John Grochowski

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A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

7 July 2011

Q. I don't believe that the odds are really the same after a big win on a slot machine. I've been playing slots for 30 years, and I've had my share of jackpots. Not once have I ever had another jackpot on the next spin. Almost every spin after a jackpot has been a loser.

No matter what you say, I think slot machines adjust and change the odds after they pay a jackpot.

A. The short answer to this is no, slot machines don't change odds after a jackpot. The random number generator just keeps generating random numbers from the same set of possibilities. Past results have no effect on future outcomes, and all results are possible on every spin.

That doesn't mean hitting two big jackpots in a row is at all likely. Different kinds of machines have different frequencies of jackpots. One that pays a relatively small jackpot fairly often might pay the big one an average of once per 10,000 spins. Others will get the lights flashing and the bells ringing in celebration once per 40,000, or 100,000, or in the case of Megabucks more like once per 50 million.

The odds are long the first time around, and they'll be just as long the second time. Even if you play often enough to win 100 top jackpots in 30 years — and three-plus top jackpots per year takes some playing — that leaves you with only 100 second spins in trying to win jackpots that average only once per 10,000 spins, or 40,000, or 100,000, or more.

The average expectation is that any one individual will never follow a top jackpot with another jackpot in his or her entire slot-playing life. Casino-wide, it's a different story. There, over time, you have millions of players making billions of plays. Back-to-back jackpots are not just possible, they're a certainty.

Given enough trials, anything that can happen eventually will. Over the years, I've heard from a number of readers who have had back-to-back jackpots, and have written about some of them in this column.

As for "almost" every spin after a jackpot being a loser, well, that's life on the slots, isn't it? There are more losing spins than winning spins. There have to be, or there couldn't be any big winners. You might as well say that most of your spins after a loser have been another loser. That's what should happen, given the odds of the game.

Slot machines don't go into any makeup mode after big wins. They just keep paying at the normal odds of the game. That's enough to assure profits for the casino.

Q. My dad is one of those guys who always splits 10s (in blackjack) if the dealer has a 6 up. He told me, "The way I look at it, when I have an edge, I want my money on the table. I have an edge with a 20 against a 6, but I also have an edge with a 10 against a 6. So I split and get more money on the table."

You know and I know his edge is a lot bigger if he stands on the 20, and splitting the 10s costs him money. But he did set me to wondering. Is there ever a right time to split the 10s against a 6?

A. If you're a basic strategy player, no. It's always best to stand on 20. If you're a Hi-Lo counter, and the true count is plus-4 or higher in a multideck game, then you add to your edge by splitting the 10s.

Then there's tournament play. If you're in the late stages in a tournament round and you absolutely have to maximize your wagers, then splitting 10s is one way to do it. But understand that in tournaments, we sometimes have to make all kinds of odd plays that we wouldn't make in a cash game.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski