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Is a 'free ride' random or controlled?

5 April 2015

QUESTION: I love playing a video poker machine called "Five Play Multi-Strike Poker." The game gives a free ride up to the next playing level at supposed random times.

I understand how the human mind can trick us and make us feel something is less random than it is supposed to be. But, during my last playing session I kept track and the free ride came up nine out of 10 times when I didn't need it because I had a pat hand and I was advancing to the next level anyway.

Do you know how the maker of the game describes when the free ride is supposed to appear? Do they claim it is completely random?

ANSWER: Yes, the appearance of the free rides is random.

For those unfamiliar with Multi-Strike, there is the potential for four hands on each play. If you have either a winning hand or a free ride on the first hand, you move up to a second hand with double payoffs. A winner or free ride there brings a third hand at 4x pays, and a winner or free ride there brings a fourth hand of 8x pays.

Five Play Multi-Strike marries that Multi-Strike concept with the five-hand format devised by Action Gaming. On your first hand, you hold cards once, then the draw is played out five times from cloned decks. How many hands are active after that will vary depending on winners and free rides – you might get the 2x hand zero, one, two, three, four or five times. However many hands you have in play, you get one initial deal, choose the cards to hold, then the draw is played out using cloned decks.

The game is manufactured and distributed by IGT, but the Multi-Strike format was devised by Leading Edge Design. I spoke with representatives from Leading Edge when Multi-Strike was developed, and was told not only that their appearance were random, but that their frequency was designed so that you had a 50-50 shot at advancing to the next level.

That doesn’t mean you’re getting free rides 50 percent of the time. It means that on a game such as Double Double Bonus Poker, where you would move up a level nearly 45 percent of the time because of winning hands, you’d get enough free rides to move up that extra 5 percent or so to bring the total level-ups to 50 percent.

When those free rides appear is random. They naturally will overlap winning hands sometimes. A streak like yours where they overlap that often is rare, but given enough plays, it's bound to happen to someone at some time.


QUESTION: In video poker, does the random number generator have any effect on my winning hands according to the number of coins played? Also, does the RNG have any effect on my winning hands according to the denomination of coins played?

ANSWER: The main thing you should know about the random number generator is that it deals the cards as randomly as humans can program a computer to be, and that's all it does. It doesn't know how many coins you're playing, and it doesn't know what denomination of coin you're betting. Your bet size makes no difference in the cards you receive. Neither does it make any difference whether you’re playing a quarter machine, a dollar machine or something else. Given expert play and max-coin bets, a 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker machine has a theoretical return of 98.98 percent with expert play, regardless of whether you're betting five 25-cent units or five $100 units.
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