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Best of John Grochowski

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The Casino Answer Man

3 August 1999

I was wondering if it is tougher (in odds/probability terms) to play and hit slots on a big riverboat, such as Grand Victoria, than on a smaller boat such as Hollywood's City of Lights II, even though the ads say that the bigger one has a better overall payout percentage.

I mention this only because after reading your Slot Machine Answer Book (which is very entertaining, by the way), I remember that these percentages are governed by pooling all money played, so one would think that a greater revenue pool would be harder to hit as opposed to a smaller one. In Hollywood's case, is each boat governed by its own separate slots monitor/computer, or is there one that controls both boats on land?

Slot machine payouts are "pooled" only in gathering information for casino statistics. Each slot machine is governed by its own computer, and each slot machine has its own payback percentage. We're just not privy to that information.

We do know that in Illinois, for example, no machine may pay less than 80 percent nor more than 100 percent in the long run. That leaves a lot of room for variation. A casino that pays back 95 percent on dollar machines can have an 85 percent machine here, a 98 percent machine there and a 92 percenter across the way.

Ideally, we'd like to see the payback percentages for individual machines so we could play the 98 percenters and avoid the 85 percenters. That's something we'll never see, and there's no way to tell a slot machine's payback percentage by looking at it from the outside. So the best we can do is look at a casino's average payback percentages, broken down by denomination of coin used, and say that on the average, we're more likely to win where the returns are higher.

There is no one computer that controls paybacks in the whole casino. There is a central computer that monitors all the slot machines, but it has nothing to do with what you see on the reels or the machines' payback percentages. It's merely an accounting device, tracking the outcomes.

All that's a long, roundabout way of saying that you are no more likely to find a loose machine in a large casino than a small one, or vice versa. Average payback percentages aren't perfect indicators, but they are our best available guide to where we're most likely to win. Given comparable payback percentages, the size of the casino doesn't matter.
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