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Best of John Grochowski

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The Casino Answer Man

16 August 2000

I play the slots often enough that I've become friendly with several people who work in slot departments at a couple of the riverboats. Last week, one of them told me something that really took me by surprise. He said the winning combinations aren't really random, that the so-called "random number generator" was just a series of numbers running in a continuous loop. He said each random number corresponded to a winning combination, but they appeared in the same sequence over and over again.

I told him I thought that the state required results to be random, and he said they are, but that the random factor was the player's timing. If my friend and I start playing at the same point on this loop of numbers, our timing might be different enough that I get reel combinations Nos. 2, 8, 19 and 26 while my friend gets 3, 10, 20 and 28. Starting from the same point, if our timing was exactly the same we'd get the same results.

That doesn't sound like random results to me at all. Is this true?

Either your slot department friend was trying to give you a really sophisticated answer and left out a couple of important details, or he was badly off target.

Random number generators - the computer programs that determine what combinations you see on the reels - are as random as humans can program a computer to be. Results are so close to random that they are unpredictable.

That being said, perfect randomness is easier said than done. The late Lenny Frome, who was an engineer in the aerospace industry before becoming a casino games analyst, reported several years ago that random number generators weren't perfectly random. He said even the best random number generators eventually went into a loop of recurring numbers. It might take billions of numbers to reach that loop, and the loop was so big players wouldn't notice, but it was there.

A couple of years after Frome's report, executives at Silicon Gaming told me they had developed the first true random number generator, with no recurring loops. Did Silicon really succeed in achieving total randomness? I have only Silicon's word to go on.

In any case, even the imperfect random number generators used in slot machines are so close to random that we might as well say results are random. You can play a slot machine from now until Bill Gates' fortune runs out, and you'll never be able to spot a pattern of which you can take advantage.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
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