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!
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

24 November 2011

Q. I know that all the slots are computerized, but do they keep running when the machine is idle?

A. Yes, the random number generator runs continually, even when the machine is not being played.

That doesn't change the odds of the game, but it does have a couple of implications for players. One is that if you leave a machine and another player hits a big jackpot on the first spin after taking your place, it's unlikely that you'd have had the same result if you'd stayed at the game. Between the time you leave and the next player sits down, the RNG has moved on, probably by thousands of numbers.

Another implication is that it makes nonsense of systems like the one a fellow tried to pitch to me a few years ago. It was for three-reel slots, and it involved scouting machines to see which symbols were on the payline, and just above and below, when the previous player left the machine.

Even if the RNG stopped running when the game was no longer in use and just started again when the next player started, that system wouldn't work. Results are as random as humans can program a computer to be, and you can't predict the next spin or spins from the symbols left by the last play. But when you add in that the RNG runs the entire time the game is idle and that the system was just picking machines without knowing how long since the last play — well, you'd be better off taking the money buying the system would cost and putting it into a slot machine instead.

Q. My wife and I have been slot machine players for well over 20 years. We have mostly settled in one casino, once a week. We like this casino because of its wide variety of machines, but have seen machine trends throughout a year between those high-payers and the coin gobblers. We are mostly morning players arriving at the casino around 9:30. It seems that the morning hours aren't so great — we've experienced good-sized losses on the machines we like to play (my wife plays mostly pennies and nickels and I play mostly quarters, but we aren't opposed to going to larger amounts). As a day goes longer, the machines seem to play better, but often too little and too late. Yes, we've tried late afternoon and evening gambling, but that doesn't work for us. We don't expect to win all the time, but at least one of us should have a little success once in a while!

Three questions:

1. Can the game chip be adjusted by a casino to, say, start over again at low (or NO) payback percentages and then progress to higher levels depending on the number of plays? We can imagine slot machine "rollbacks" starting at 2 a.m., or very late/early, each day. The RNG seems to be stuck in this low to better payouts cycle as a day progresses. Machines have a habit of "dying" after a modest payout or two and then come back to "life" after a bit of time has passed (played more).

2. You have said that casinos remove machines that are underperforming. We believe they also do this to those overperforming.

3. Does the RNG follow its course with different bet denominations (a different track for different amounts of bets)?

A. 1. No, programming that would change payback percentages over the course of a day is illegal in U.S. jurisdictions with licensed casinos, and would be found by test programs in the gaming labs. What you're seeing is just random chance. If you kept track for a very long time, writing down actual results for hundreds of thousands of plays, you'd find the games pay the same at all hours of the day.

2. By "underperforming," I mean not making enough money for the house. That usually means not enough play. If players like the game and it gets played enough, then over a long time it will make its expected percentage for the house. If it doesn't get played, it doesn't make money and gets removed. Most casinos do not remove machines because they are paying too much. The sharp operators know that given time, the machine will make its programmed percentage, and that leaving a machine on the floor that has a reputation as a hot machine is good business.

3. Different denominations have different random number generators. If the game allows you to choose among pennies, 2-cents and 5-cents, for example, there will be an RNG for the 1-cent version, one for the 2-cent version and one for the 5-cent version. Within any one denomination, the RNG does not know how much you're betting. If you're playing a penny game, it will generate the same numbers regardless of whether you're betting 1 penny at a time, 500 pennies at a time, or something in between.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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