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Best of John Grochowski

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Are these VP players brilliant or lucky?

12 June 2016

QUESTION: We just returned from a two-week casino vacation. One morning, quite early, there was quite a stir, we were told just about every bank of video poker machines was paying out massively, on hand pays.

There were guys sitting around just waiting to be paid out. We actually watched one young man get FIVE hand pays in the same morning. Later that day we learned a group of nine men (no couples) had won multiple hand pays. They did not seem to be guests of the hotel, none of them drank more than one soda apiece, and they left as quickly they appeared.

Without seeming too judgmental, they all looked very techie. They were not dressed like men on holiday. The casino does not seem to be boasting about any of these big wins. My wife said she saw one pay out was $5,000. Could this have been some sort of hack?

One final question. On this trip we changed our points into free play, $700. The free play did not last very long, just two or three hours. The newer slots simply ate it without any return. Can a slot machine pay less out on free play?

ANSWER: The extreme likelihood is that the flurry of hand pays was just a coincidence. The chips that go into gaming machines are tested very carefully in gaming labs before they are certified by state gaming commissions for release to casinos.

If the casino suspected any kind of hack, it would have shut down the machines immediately. No one else would have been allowed to play them.

Very rarely, there is a flaw in programming that allows players in the know to gain an advantage.

About 15 years ago, there was a multigame machine with a programming flaw that enabled players to force mid-level winning hands. The flaw didn't force big jackpot hands, and it took some time for anyone in charge to notice the error was there. Once it was discovered, the machines were pulled from distribution.

A flaw that enabled players to force jackpot hands would be discovered very quickly. If the casino suspected anything, it would close down its machines and alert both the gaming commission and the manufacturer.

But that is extremely rare. The gaming labs do their job well.

As for the fast losses on the free play, there is nothing in game programming that enables it to pay differently on free play than on paid play. Results remain the product of random numbers, and the random number generator doesn't know where the credits came from.


QUESTION: I laugh every time you write about roulette and you point out that the house edge on nearly every bet is 5.26%, but that the five-number bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 is 7.89%. The existence of that one bet must have taken up a few columns worth of words over the years.

But what I want to know, is there every a situation where you should make the five-number bet? Maybe if none of those numbers has show up in a long time?

ANSWER: No, I’d never make the five-number bet. The house edge is the same on every spin, and the edge is higher on that bet than others. If I wanted to bet those five numbers, I’d bet single numbers, or a combination of a split on 0-00 and a street on 1-2-3. Then the house edge is the usual 5.26%.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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