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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Two Rules to Follow Lead the Way to Smart Gambling

11 March 2009

Have you ever fallen into the trap of playing a slot machine longer than you had intended? In all likelihood, it happened because you were waiting for "just one more bonus round" on one of the video games that have taken over casino floors nationwide.

There's no doubt about it; interactive bonus and free spin rounds are the new carrot-on-a-stick for slot players. They keep us pushing the machine's "play" button far more than pulling the handle on traditional spinning reel slots when the only lure was an elusive jackpot.

The lesson to be learned is just that it is never wise to chase jackpots, so is it financially damaging to chase bonus rounds.

Jackpots and bonus rounds are very different. The former, when hit, fulfills the promise of a sizable win. It's generally the top award the machine can pay and comes with all the associated bells and whistles.

Getting into a bonus round, on the other hand, offers no guarantee for a big win; just a "maybe". But that's a mighty big five-letter word for many people, who will play longer, spend more, and worse yet, put all their winnings back, in quest of catching one.

The "catch", however, is significant. Slots are mathematically programmed to pay sizable jackpots infrequently. The odds are very tall against lining up the jackpot symbols on any given spin.

The hit frequency of bonus rounds on low-denomination multi-line/multi-coin video slots is much greater. The anticipation of getting into a second screen bonus, or being awarded free spins, has become the most significant attraction of the new wave of games, and the most addictive.

The results of some bonus rounds net players significant wins. Many others are minor awards. The dilemma players face is magnified because of the fact the number of penny, two-cent and three-cent games at Illinois and Northwest Indiana casinos has increased dramatically over the past year, while the number of higher denomination units has dropped.

A recent monthly report from the Illinois Gaming Board revealed that the number of one-cent slots at the nine casinos in the state increased from 1,505 machines to 1,995 over a 12-month period, while the number of two-cent games went from 1,225 to 1,571. The number of nickel games decreased from 1,984 to 1,492 during the same period of time.

When you take into account the fact that the average payback percentage among all the slot machines at Illinois casinos was 92.48 percent, but the average payback percentage was 89.30 on one-cent games and 88.12 on two-cent games, you can recognize why the emphasis has shifted.

There's one other rule to follow if you want to keep the fun in your gaming adventures: Attend casinos on your own terms, which means refusing to be manipulated by promotions which are designed to increase your number of visits, or make trips you hadn't planned.

Some properties in the Chicago-are gaming market are very aggressive and quite persistent with direct marketing campaigns that are aimed directly at average recreational gamblers.

Always remember that special one-day-only promotions, giveaways, and cash offers are worthwhile only if you have made plans in advance to go out.

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