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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Thrifty Gambling Applies to Video Slots

30 October 2002

This question regarding the Atronic Sphinx video slot machine game via e-mail from Sam R. Scafferi:

"Perhaps this isn’t just about the Sphinx slot machine. Maybe it’s any of a wide variety of 5-reel video display machines that offer up to nine pay lines to be played. I suppose it is just something I’ve experienced in the short term, but it seems to me if I put twenty dollars in one of these machines and then play one pay line and one credit per line continuously, more often than not I will lose my entire twenty dollars. Conversely, if I put in a twenty dollar bill and play one credit for nine lines (nine credits) on each play I often get up by five or fifteen dollars, which a lot of times I will walk away with. What the heck is going on here? On these type of machines (nine pay lines) should a player never play fewer than the maximum of nine pay lines, or am I trying to find a pattern in a random event that really isn’t there? Would appreciate your input. Thanks."

Dear Sam: Remember that slot machines may look different on the outside but they are all the same on the inside. They are electronic gaming devices governed by computer programs that guarantee the casino a percentage of the money played. As for your experience with the Atronic Sphinx variety of video slot, don’t forget that when you play only one credit on one line, you are surrendering the opportunity to win on the other lines even though winning combinations may pop up. When you play one credit on all nine lines you are eligible to win on any payoff combination. On a quarter machine, twenty dollars will give you 80 credits. The 1-line, 1-credit method gives you 80 plays on your original bankroll but you are spreading yourself very thin. On the same machine the 9-line, 9-credit method gives you one credit short of nine plays on your original bankroll but you are maximizing your opportunity to win if, in fact, payoff combinations appear. My advice to you is to use the 9-line, 9-credit system. There is no wisdom in playing the game if you don’t give yourself a chance to win on every play. A 9-credit investment on each play gives you just that opportunity. On the other hand, there is no wisdom in getting greedy as I see some people do and bet max 45 credits on each play. A cold spell can wipe out your bankroll in a jiffy. The 9-line, 9-credit system is smart and it’s what "thrifty gambling" is all about. You are right when you define slot play as "random". That’s exactly what it is. The computer doesn’t know how many coins you are playing. All it knows is that you’ve activated a play.

Congratulations to Jack Binion’s Steak House in the pavilion at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, for receiving an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator’s award program. The restaurant’s award winning wine list includes wide ranges of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Meritage, Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, and first growth Bordeauxs from such names as Louis Latour and Robert Mondavi. Jack Binion’s Steakhouse is open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and is open for dinner Friday through Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and Sunday through Thursday 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Reservations are recommended. Call 1-866-711-SHOE, Ext. 3425.

Illinois casinos may be complaining about the higher tax rates that the Illinois General Assembly hit them with, but that didn’t stop Penn National Gaming, Inc. from wanting a piece of the action. The Pennsylvania-based company has completed a cash deal worth approximately $780 million to purchase Hollywood Casino Corp. which owns casinos in Aurora, Ill., Tunica, Miss., and Shreveport, La. The sale should close the first half of next year.

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