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Best of John Grochowski

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Can Fibonacci Help Us Win at Slots?

19 September 2006

I understand three-reel slot players who always bet maximum coins. On most machines, your payback percentage is highest when you bet the max.

I also understand three-reel slot players who don't bet the max --- except, of course, for those who play progressives. There's no point to playing a progressive slot machine if you're not going to make the wager necessary to be eligible for the big jackpot.

Still, progressives aside, sometimes short-bankrolled players don't bet the max, and that's fine. Staying within your bankroll is one of the basic requirements of survival in the casino. Other players will bet one coin at a time and point out that on most slot games, your payback percentage is higher when you bet the max, but your average losses in dollars and cents also are larger when you bet more.

Bet the max, bet less --- you pay your money and you make your choice.

But then there are players who waffle between the two, sometimes betting the max, sometimes not. Usually, they'll bet the max when they're feeling lucky, or drop down to one coin when they've been on a losing streak.

Then there are those with a system, trying to time when the machine is more likely to pay off. They seem to think they can prime the machine with one-coin bets, then reap the rewards with max coin wagers at the right time.

One such system crossed my screen recently when a woman e-mailed to tell me about a system she'd been given by a friend of a friend. It was based on Fibonacci numbers --- the next number in a sequence is based on the sum of the previous two. Start with zero, then one, and the third number in the sequence is zero plus one, another one. Then the next number is one plus one --- two. And so on, so that a Fibonacci sequence looks like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and on and on.

Systems players have long used Fibonacci sequences on table games. A roulette player betting on red or black, for example, might start with a one-unit bet, then after a loss bet one again, then two, then three, then five, then eight. A streak of five losses in a row would mean losses of 1, 1, 2, 3 and 5 units. Win the eight-unit bet, and scratch off the 3 and 5, leaving your next wager as 2 plus 1, or three units. The size of the wager increases or decreases with wins or losses.

How can that be applied to slot machines?

It seems this system for three-reel, two- or three-coin slots alternates between one-coin wagers and three coin wagers. It starts with a single one-coin bet. If it's a winner, the sequence starts over. If it's a loser, the player switches to one max-coin bets.

That's when the series really gets going. A loser on one max-coin bet is followed by two one-coin bets, then three max-coin bets. If there are no winners along the way, you can follow the sequence --- five spins at one coin, eight spins at max coins, 13 spins at one coin, and it's a cold machine indeed that extends this sequence any farther. Any win, as this player described the system starts the sequence over again.

"My friend says most of the wins will come on the max coins bet, and that the system will save you a lot of money on the losers," she wrote. "What do you think?"

I told her that opposed to betting the maximum on every bet, that yes, this system would save money, just because anyone who uses it is betting less. But there is nothing in a slot machine's programming that would make it any more likely that the winning spins would come on the maximum-coin bets in such a system than on the one-coin bets.

Slot machine results are as random as humans can program a computer to be, as I've grown fond of telling anyone who will listen. There is no one spin that's more likely to be a winner than any other spin. No one, and no system, can tell you when the wins are coming, and when you're more likely to lose.

If you're using a system such as this to tell you when to bet one coin and when to bet the max, you're just as likely to hit a big winner with a small bet than with a big one. If you're a sometimes-max-coin bettor, how is it going to make you feel when you're biggest winning combination lands on the reels after you've made your minimum wager? That won't happen every time, but it'll happen. With repeated play, it's inevitable.

I'm no zealot on the point of maximum-coin wagers, though when I play, I bet the max. If your bankroll dictates smaller bets, then bet small. But when it comes to switching back and forth and trying to time the max-coin bets to match the big winners, well, that can't be done. Whether you're playing by feel or Fibonacci, the random number generator rules over all.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.

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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski