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Scoblete's 'Slot Conquest'

1 February 2011

The year 2010 was a busy one for Frank Scoblete, one of gambling's most prolific, as well as entertaining, writers. He rolled out four books through his new publisher, with Slots Conquest ($16.95, Triumph Books) rounding out the quartet late in the year.

Like everything Scoblete writes, it's fun to read as well as informative. I breezed through its 157 pages on a flight to Las Vegas, and I know full well that turning discussions of math-based topics such as payback percentages and hit frequencies into easy, breezy reading can be as challenging as the subject matter.

Slots Conquest tackles the games behind the games with examples that will bring a chuckle or three. Scoblete tells of the casino executive who put signs saying, "This machine is HOT!" on games with big recent payouts. Machines that had been cold were marked with signs saying, "This machine is DUE!"

Past results have no effect on future outcomes and it makes no difference in later payoffs if the machines have been hot or not, as Scoblete duly notes. But the signs serve their purpose, enticing customers who are looking for machines they think are ready to pay off.

One of my favorite chapters is called "Slot Scammers and Other Creeps," and deals with people who will tell you "I can show you the trick slot pros use to win millions," or "I am an engineer and have looked inside the machines to discover the secret to paying out large sums to smart players such as you." All for a fee, of course.

As always in a Scoblete book, there are stories galore, tales of triumph, defeat or just plain strange beliefs about the slots that will have you cheering, wincing or shaking your head in disbelief. "The Ghost in the Machine" chapter relays comments from players who believe there's a supernatural effect in the slots, that they can feel good vibrations from winning games, or the energy from a hot machine. When one player who wants to talk about the psychic dimension starts with, "You are a math weenie, one who believes in math over everything in gambling, aren't you Scobe," that set off bells of recognition. I've had that same discussion with many a player who doesn't want to hear about odds, hit frequencies and random numbers.

Scoblete's own "Top 10 Weird and Wacky Slot Experiences' are worth at least 10 chuckles, including his time playing next to the pregnant woman he thought said, "My glass of water broke."

What about the "Conquest" part? There is a short chapter on beatable slots, but the games are not common. They're still around, games such as S&H Green Stamps and Triple Diamond Mine, with banked bonuses that reward smart players who spot a machine that gives them a head start toward a payoff. These games are available in dwindling amounts, but when I spotted a Green Stamps machine right after finishing this book, I knew just what to look for.

The real conquest comes in learning to avoid pitfalls, choosing games wisely, staying within your budget and having fun both on the slots and in reading the tales Scoblete tells so well.

NEW GUIDE: Each year, Steve Bourie updates his American Casino Guide ($18.95, Casino Vacations Press), and each year it gets bigger and better. The 2011 edition takes 353 pages for listings of every casino in the United States, with games offered, amenities, buffet prices and special features.

For anyone who travels to different casino markets, the Guide is a valuable resource, one I find myself turning to frequently during each year.

Sprinkled in are features on casinos and casino games, by many gambling authors. Full disclosure time: I'm an annual contributor, along with Henry Tamburin, Linda Boyd, Bob Dancer, H. Scott Krause and Bourie.

It holds up as a good basic guide on how to play, with chapters on how to play blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps along with several articles on slot machines and video poker. Discussions on how to get the most out of player rewards clubs, the best casino bets, mistakes made by blackjack players and the best places to play in several states make the Guide a solid how-to book as well as a where-to book.

At the back of the book are another 128 pages of coupons from casinos throughout the United States. By far the biggest share are from Nevada, of course, but there are offers from Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri and New Jersey, too.

Learn more at americancasinoguide.com.

PODCASTS: Chicago area readers and listeners know I do a series of short casino tips on WLS-AM radio. Those in the rest of the country can catch the tips via podcast at http://www.wlsam.com/sectional.asp?id=38069

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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