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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Always Enjoy the "Show" When You Play Slots

3 February 2010

Unless you enjoy playing slot machines for the entertainment value you derive from them (in addition to the hope of winning some money along the way, of course!), modern "one-armed bandits" may just as well be looked upon as electronic pull-tabs.

The essential components of electronic gaming devices could probably be housed in a container the size of a shoe box when you get right down to it. All you need is a currency validation system, a play button, and a display to inform you if you won or lost.

Most of what slot machines are is meant to visually and audibly stimulate you while you play, and in the process create a mode of entertainment.

The crisp and colorful graphics on the back-lighted top box, the feel of playing a game, the electronic sound prompts and music, and, last but not least, the spinning of the reels combine to create a grand illusion that has made slot machines the kings gambling.

An e-mail came in from a reader, Gerald F., whose question typifies the perception that recreational gamblers have of slots, and how misinformation about the games can ultimately hold players hostage to their beguiling ways:

The question that we have relates to video slots. We see many people hit the button to start the machine and then hit the button again to stop the machine. I am not sure if they are actually able to change the symbols that appear on the line or not, or if that will change the payout on the machine. Some people say that it does and others say that it does not. Anything you can do to shed a little light would be appreciated.

Essential to the understanding of how slot machines operate is the fact that all of the decisions that are reached on every spin is predetermined the instant you hit the play button.

The virtual reels on video slots and the mechanical reels on traditional slots do not spin independently of one another, even though that is the illusion the games are designed to convey.

For example, on a Red, White, & Blue Sevens machine, the second you initiate a play the outcome on the reels is determined by the computer program that governs play. Even though the reels stop one by one, it's already determined whether or not you're going to line up red sevens or get blanked.

Same holds true for video slots. The virtual reels may spin and stop one by one left to right, but the entire grid of symbols that you are going to receive is already established.

Video slots are equipped with "stop" buttons that allow players to view the results of the spin immediately. The grid of symbols appears instantly without the spinning reel show.

The grid of symbols you get when you hit stop, however, is the same you would have received had you just waited for the spinning reels to lock into place. The function has no impact whatsoever on the payback percentage of the machine.

Hitting the stop button does however impact a player's bottom line. It merely speeds up the game and allows you to make more plays and wager more money in a given period of time.

The unrelenting "hold" percentage (the money retained by the casino) on slot machines wears players down at a greater rate the faster you play.

The best advice when it comes to slots is to always sit back and enjoy the show.

There's nothing wrong with escaping from the rat race by allowing yourself to get caught up in the entertainment illusion that slot machines are designed to create.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp