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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Player's Slot Machine Questions Answered

10 February 2010

Today's question from a reader is typically of what's on the minds of many slot players who wish to learn the truth about the games they play:

I have three questions: 1. I like to play a three-reel Triple-Double Diamond quarter slot machine at Blue Chip. Is it possible for the computers to control the speed of each individual reel? If so, what is the advantage/disadvantage to the gambler? 2. Do you believe that using a player's card can affect the performance of a slot machine? 3. How do you know or determine the payout for video poker machines?

(1) Slot and video poker machines have many play characteristics and settings. Among them is the speed at which cards are dealt or the reels spin. On many video poker games, there is a touch screen function that allows guests to select the speed at which they feel comfortable playing. When such a function is unavailable, as it is on most slots, the properties are set internally.

Players will encounter traditional spinning reel slots on which decisions are reached faster than others. This characteristic has no impact whatsoever on the payback percentage of the game. The same outcome would occur had the reels spun slower.

What faster play does affect, however, is a player's bankroll. The faster you play, the more money you bet. The more money you wager within a given time frame means your bankroll becomes more vulnerable to the relentless "hold" percentage of the machine.

I typically avoid slot machines that have "rapid fire" play. Playing at a leisurely pace is hard enough. When a unit's reels spin too fast and play outcomes are reached too fast for my comfort, I will move on.

(2) Having your player's club card inserted in the machine wields no influence on the performance of the game, how much you win or lose, or whether or not you hit a jackpot.

The card reader does not communicate with the game itself but rather with a database operated and managed by the property's marketing division.

Statistics on how often you visit, what games you play, how much you typically wager, what denomination you play, and how long you stay are tabulated to create a player profile upon which direct mail offers and communications are based.

Using a card can only help you derive more value from your casino outings, especially by earning points for your play that can be redeemed for cash or comps.

There is no doubt player's clubs are self serving for the casinos, but there is a give-and-take component that makes them beneficial to guests as well.

(3)The individual payback percentages of traditional spinning reel and video slots are proprietary information, but video poker machines are a different ball game.

The payback percentages of video poker machines are based on a mathematical formula using information from the game's pay table, which is in clear public view.

The standard way to determine a video poker game's payback percentage is to make a calculation based on the number of coins paid back for each one wagered for a full house and a flush.

For example, a Double-Double Bonus game that pays nine-coins-to-one for a full house and five-coins-to-one for a flush is a "9/5" game that pays 97.87 percent.

The best source for finding video poker game payback percentages is www.videopoker.com. Click "improve your skills" on the left side of the home page and then click "pay tables" in the box that opens. You'll find the percentages for every game and every available pay table.

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