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Best of John Grochowski

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Low slot pays and bad blackjack plays

9 November 2014

QUESTION: You write all about these new games, and Mad Men and the new Austin Powers sound like fun, but why do they make the games with such low paybacks? Someone should tell WMS and IGT and Bally and all those companies that you can bet as much on a penny video game as on a dollar three-reel game, and players deserve paybacks just as high.

ANSWER: Let’s put the responsibility where it belongs here. Paybacks are lower on penny games than on nickels, lower on nickels than on quarters, and so on up the line, because that’s the way casino operators order them. Manufacturers would love to have their games on casino floors set for high payback percentages. With higher paybacks, the games are more fun and exciting to play, and are shown to their best advantage.

However, casinos are businesses, and they have to do what it takes to make the games profitable for the house. Penny video slots are the most popular games in casinos today, and as long as players are filling the seats, there’s no incentive for operators to offer higher payback percentages.

Beyond that, there are a couple of other practicalities to consider. It’s possible to bet $3, $4 or $5 or sometimes more with a maximum bet on penny slots, but most players don’t. It’s common for players to cover all the paylines, but bet only 1 cent or 2 cents per line. On a 40-line game, there are a whole lot of players betting 40 cents or 80 cents a spin. Operators are not about to reward that with paybacks as high as those on three-reel games where players are betting at least $1, with a large share betting a maximum $3 a spin.

Also, video slots with their free spins and bonus events bring fewer spins per hour than a non-bonusing three-reel game sich as Double Diamond or Blazing 7s. During the time spent on bonus events, you’re not betting any money.

Given that average bets are lower and the gameplay is slower on penny video slots, casinos aren’t likely to offer equivalent payback percentages.

However, none of that is the responsibility of the game manufacturers. They all offer their games in a variety of payback percentages, and it’s up to the casino operator to choose which to install.


QUESTION: I had a weird thing happen at a blackjack table. One of the other players had a 10 and a 7, and he signaled to hit. The dealer hesitated, and said, “You have …” and the player tapped the table hard, signaling he wanted a card. He drew a 3 to give him 20, and other players started muttering about blind luck and fools and horses and that kind of thing.

The dealer wound up pulling a 21, and beat everybody. Naturally, the guy who hit the 17 took some grief, and one player picked up his chips and stormed off.

The player apologized and said he’d misread his hand, that he thought the 7 was a 4. There was some more grumbling, but then it was done. People let him be, and he turned out to play pretty solid basic strategy.

My question is, what would you do in that situation? Would you say something to the player? Storm off?

ANSWER: I’d have stayed silent. A bad play by another player is as likely to help me as hurt me. We all tend to remember the times they hurt us and not even notice when they help us, but there is nothing magical about the order of the cards in the deck. The dealer just as easily could have drawn a bust card instead of the card that gave him 21.

Mistakes happen, and if you can just shrug off the bad plays of others, you’ll be a lot happier at the blackjack tables. However, if you can’t do that, and if bad plays are going to upset you and make you lose your focus, then you’re probably better off changing tables. I wouldn’t have stormed off like the player at you table, but it might have been the best move for him.
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