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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Putting To Rest Another Misconception about Slot Machines

23 August 1999

You must have noticed it if you're a slot player: The delay that occurs every now and then while you're playing a machine. It only lasts for a few seconds, but during that period of time the machine will not allow you to activate a play. Coins won't register, the handle cannot be pulled, and tapping the play button proves futile. What's going on?

The mystery, superstition, and just plain misinformation that surround slot play is fertile ground for players to conjure up hidden reasons for the delay. Could the machine's computer chips be recycling into a "winning mode"? Is the machine's computer tipping us off that a big payoff is on the way? Is there some sort of internal "reset" being performed that'll turn the machine from cold to hot or vice-versa?

This columnist has observed the phenomenon frequently through the years but I never had an opportunity to research it. Curiosity finally got the best of me when I was asked a question about the delay during a gaming workshop I gave for the North Riverside Recreation Department.

To get to the bottom of the mystery I sought the advice of Rick Sorensen in the public relations department of Reno, Nevada-based International Game Technology, manufacturer of some of the most popular slot machine game formats. He in turn went to the company's department of engineering.

The answer? The delay takes place when the machine's internal electronic meters are being updated, which takes about two seconds. The meters have no connection whatsoever with the machine's random number generator and therefore have no bearing on the course of play. The bottom line is this: The delay is not a signal.

"The chief engineer with whom I spoke mentioned the word 'reset' comes up frequently when the delay is discussed among slot players, but in reality nothing is being reset in the machine," Sorensen said. "The two second delay has no significance for the player and in no way has anything to do with winning or losing."

Mystery solved. It just proves that no matter how hard we try to get an edge, the only factor that governs winning or losing at the slots is luck!

I had another question about slot play answered by the engineers at IGT. This one concerned the popular "Wheel of Fortune" machines. It seems that many players perceive the bonus spin they get on the wheel is just that...a lucky spin for extra cash that isn't governed by the machine's computer chips. Wrong!

The random number generator that rules over the combination of symbols we get on the Wheel of Fortune reels also comes into play with the bonus spin. In other words, the random number generator is a part of the computer software that runs the bonus spin. Therefore, what you'll win on the bonus spin is predetermined once you activate the play.

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