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Best of John Grochowski

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Payback Percentages are Straight from State

22 May 2000

Q. I can understand how odds are figured on craps, blackjack or roulette, but when you say some casinos pay back 96 percent, 97 percent, etc., on slots, how do you know this?

Ed R.

A. Payback percentages on slot machines at local casinos are taken from monthly reports by the Illinois Gaming Board and Indiana Gaming Commission. They represent actual results. The amount of money paid out by a casino's slots is divided by the money wagered, and that fraction is multiplied by 100 to convert to percent.

The percentages you use as examples are a little high. In the Chicago area, payback percentages on quarter machines cluster around 92 percent, while dollar machines hover around 94 percent in northwest Indiana and 95 percent in Illinois.

House edges I list on table games are theoretical. It's more important to know that in the long run, the house will keep $1.17 of every $100 we bet on banker in baccarat than to know how players fared last month. There is short-term fluctuation, but in the long run, the theoretical percentages will hold up.

Similarly, video poker payback percentages are theoretical and dependent on player strategy. Video poker is roughly akin to a table game played on a video screen. Cards must be dealt from a randomly shuffled, 52-card electronic deck - 53 cards in the case of Joker Poker - and the percentages are the same as if physical cards were being dealt at a table.

Slot machines also have theoretical payback percentages, but we're not privy to what they are. If a casino would tell me, "We set these quarter machines to pay out 90 percent in the long run, but those at 94 percent and that one over there's 98 percent," I'd report it. That's much more useful information than what all the machines in the house paid out last month or two months ago.


For more information about slot machines and video poker, we recommend:

The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
Break the One Armed Bandits: How to Come Out Ahead When You Play the Slots! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
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:

> More Books By John Grochowski