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Best of John Grochowski

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Penny slots and roulette nots

15 March 2015

QUESTION: I live in the Las Vegas area and frequent several local casinos. I play mostly video poker, but I keep my eyes open as I walk through the casinos. It seems that lately the turnover of penny slot machines has increased, with more titles and themes being introduced more often. This has led me to wonder whether the casinos generally buy or lease these machines, and whether they can easily convert to the latest title. I'm also wondering whether the apparent costs of this high turnover is one of the reasons the payback on penny slots is so low.

ANSWER: Modern slot floors are a mix of for-sale games, usually called "core games" by manufacturers, and revenue-sharing or leased games. Most of the biggest, flashiest, licensed titles are revenue-sharing games, including Lord of the Rings, Michael Jackson and The Dark Knight. So are big jackpot games with wide-area progressives, such as Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune.

Casinos need to have a certain number of revenue-sharing games, because they drive business. Slot manufacturers load them up with entertainment value through graphics, animation, sound effects, motion chairs and multiple bonus events to make them must-try games.

However, most slot directors prefer that for-sale games make up the bulk of their floor. Games such as Wolf Run, Cleopatra and Jackpot Party in most incarnations are for-sale games.

Operators understand that video slot games reach their peak, level off and start to lose popularity in a matter of months. Games do change with some frequency. However, when a game is changed, it's not a matter of buying a whole new machine and bearing all that expense. The hardware stays on the floor, and the software is changed. In casinos that have server-based machines, the change can be made remotely, from a server room. Those remain relatively few in number, so most changes require opening the machine, removing the CPU and taking it to the back shop, where the game chip is changed under regulatory supervision.

Since the change just requires a software switch, it's relatively easy for operators to adjust once a game is no longer earning its keep.


QUESTION: My buddy told me about this roulette system, and it seems pretty good. You start with a $5 bet on the third column. The third column has eight red numbers and only four black, so you also make a $10 bet on black. Black pays even money, so it takes $10 bet there to equal the 2-1 payout on a $5 bet on the column.

You break even when any of the red numbers in the column hit, win $5 on most black numbers, and win $20 when any of the black numbers in the column hit. You have 24 of the 38 numbers covered, and some of them are big winners.

ANSWER: The losses on the 14 numbers you don’t cover will outweigh the wins and break-evens on your bets.

Per 38 spins, you’ll risk $570. If each number shows up once, each of the eight reds in your column will bring you $15 – your $5 bet plus $10 in winnings – for a total of $120. For each of the 14 blacks not in your column, you’ll get $10 in winnings plus you keep the $10 bets. That’s another $280. And each of the four blacks in your column allow you to keep $15 in bets plus bring $20 in winnings, for $140.

Add that all up, and you’re left with $540, while the house keeps $30. That’s the same 5.26 percent house edge you’d face by betting just the column, or just the black.
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