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Best of John Grochowski

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Slot tips that can save you money

4 July 2013

On any casino trip, the little things count. Just a few little ins and outs about how the games work can make a difference in your bottom line and your enjoyment of the gaming day.

This week and next, let’s explore a few of the little things, with some short tips for casino trip. This week, tips are for slot players, and next week I’ll have a few on video poker.

  • A woman once phoned me, certain a slot machine had been rigged. She usually played roulette, she explained, but on this occasion was taking a chance on a $5 slot machine. She’d lost a couple of thousand dollars, then went to an ATM and withdrew a few thousand more. And she lost THAT.

“I hadn’t hit ANYTHING,” she told me. “I was SURE it was due."

There was nothing wrong with the machine, but there was plenty wrong with her approach. Slot machines are never “due” -- they’re as random as humans can program them to be, and previous results have NO EFFECT on future outcomes.

Here’s the tip: Stay within your budget, and don’t count on a cold machine to suddenly heat up. Long cold streaks are as much a part of the normal odds of the game as big jackpots.

  • There are more myths about slot machines than any other casino game, but it took me aback when one day’s e-mail brought notes taking opposite sides of the same myth.

One player complained that casinos loosened slot machines in the daytime, so the “idle rich,” as he put it, got the good stuff, while working people got lower payouts at night. The other complained that the slots were tight in the daytime, when retirees play, and that the jackpots are reserved for younger folk.

Here’s the tip: Slot machines pay out the same percentages, day or night. To change the paybacks, casinos have to replace a computer chip inside the machine. A Gaming Board agent must be present as evidence tape is broken, the chip is replaced, and the new chip is sealed with new evidence tape. That’s not something that’s done on a day/night whim.

Even with new server-based games, where it’s possible to change games or percentages with a few mouse clicks, states require double-lock systems, where making the change requires approval of both a casino employee and a regulatory agent. Percentage changes are not permitted on any day/night or weekday/weekend whim.

  • A woman once wrote to me to say, “A slot attendant pointed out a machine to me and said that’s where I should play. She said it had been paying off like crazy. Was she just angling for a big tip if I won?”

The likelihood is that the attendant was just being friendly and trying to point out a hot machine. But attendants don’t have access to the machine’s programming and don’t know whether a machine has a high payback percentage or has just had a hot streak.

Here's the tip: When a slot attendant tips you off on a hot machine, smile, thank them, then play what you want to play.

  • A few years ago, I watched from a couple of seats away while a woman played a bonus round on a Super Jackpot Party slot machine. She chose a “Pooper,” ending the party. But she then had a choice of five party favors for one last bonus -- and the hat she touched revealed a Party Saver. The bonus party was back on.

The man next to her told her, “Whatever you do, next time up, don’t pick the hat. That Saver rotates around.”

Where was the Saver the next time? Under the hat.

Here's the tip: Locations of the Party Savers or big bonuses or any other awards in pick-‘em type video slots -- not just Jackpot Party, but any games where you make picks for bonuses -- aren’t on any rotation. They’re determined by a random number generator, and can just as easily as not be in the same space on your next turn.

  • A slot machine-playing friend surprised me by saying he thought player rewards cards made slots a better percentage play than video poker.

“My free play is better than my wife’s, and she plays video poker,” he said. “That has to count for something, doesn’t it?”

Slot play often brings back about twice as much in free play as video poker play. But video poker players using expert strategy on the best games get returns of better than 99 percent, while slot players get from about 88 to 96 percent, depending on coin denomination.

Here's the tip: Free play, typically around a quarter of a percent and rarely reaching a full percent, can’t begin to make up the difference in return on the games between slots and video poker. Play slots for fun, but don’t expect the best percentage return.


Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski