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Slots, Random Number Generators and Systems for Sale.

I have been told by numerous slot mechanics that the new (last 8 years) slots with wheels are completely computer driven. In that I mean, that when you drop the first coin, the RNG picks a winner or no winner, and the outcome is also based upon how much the machine has taken in and paid out. The wheels are just a show. There could be a video screen which said winner and how much (it would say loser much, much more often). Of course, the RNG will not know how many coins you put in, so you always play max coins. If this is true, how is the algorithm set? The slots are set to winning percentages by the Hotel. How does this equate to random when the house can set the machine to pay?

Please explain, as I am very perplexed. I used to love the slots, but now I can hardly get payouts. Its like the casinos moved the good slots away.

Dear Sid,
What you say about slots is true; the RNG (Random Number Generator) chooses the combination when the first coin goes in, but extra coins played will multiply the win IF a winning combination has been selected.

As for the percentage payoff, it is established over a series of spins, say 1,000,000. What that means is that for 1,000,000 spins, the payback will total 85% of all the money put in, but within that series, there could be several very large 'wins' back-to-back, or they might occur 50,000 spins apart or ...? The only thing the casino knows for sure is that over time, they'll keep 15% of all the money put in; in the space of 1000 spins, almost anything can happen. They accept that risk as part of the game, plus it makes machines appear to be 'hot' and they love that.

I urge you to consider switching from slots to video poker where, for the most part, payouts are higher and far more predictable, since in VP there are far fewer combinations which can come up.

You recently answered an interesting question regarding when one should invest in a nickel video poker machine. The writer asked about playing a vp nickel machine with a jackpot over $900 ... you advised it was a good bet.

I'm curious. I always asssumed the vig on a nickel machine, slot or vp, was outrageous and too high to mess with ... am I wrong? When should I play with a nickel vp machine (aside from the obvious "when you're nearly broke!")

Dear Chase,
One cannot lump nickel video poker machines together with nickel slots regarding payouts, since the return on a VP machine can be determined by the payout schedule; that's not the case with a slot where, as you say, the 'vig' is usually outrageous. The writer of the question to which you refer did not tell me what format the machine was, but as I stated in my answer, if it was an 8/5 format, the $900 jackpot made for profitable play. To see how that works, look at the Video Poker page of our site.

As to when you can play 5-cent VP machines, do so when the payback is at 100% or more; they will usually be progressives. For example, on an 8/5 Jacks or Better machine, it's when the royal is at least $475. Such situations are rare but they do exist, especially in a competitive market like Vegas.

My question is regarding the payoff schedule of an internet sportsbook.

They pay 1.98 of your original bet. The 1.00 is to get your original bet back and the .98 takes 2% of your win. In addition, they then charge 10% if you win (not if you lose, like most books). So an example would be if I bet $100 on the Bulls to win, the payoff would be as follows:

$100 X 1.98 = $198 total win

$198 - $19.80 = $178 I get back on my account.

Had I lost they would have just taken the $100 without juice.


I appreciate your help in this matter.

Dear Skip,
Let's examine an entire transaction to demonstrate how to figure the 'vig' that the book is charging. In a 'normal' book, two opposite bettors each risk $110 in order for one of them to win $210. Follow me on this? Bettor A chose the Bulls and put up $110 to win $100. Bettor B chose the Jazz, put up $110 and lost. Player A gets the $110 + $100 back, the book keeps $10 and the vig. is $10 divided by $220 (the total amount of the transaction) or 4.54%.

In your case, you bet $100 on the Bulls and someone else bet $100 on the Jazz. You won $78, plus got your $100 bet back. The book kept $22 of a $200 transaction or 11%. Not a good deal, though you are risking less money in those situations where you are wrong.

Let's look at it in the case of a season of football where you bet 15 of the games and, because you follow the sage advice of "Real Ralphies" handicappers, you win 9 games. At a 'normal' book, you'd bet 15 X $110 or $1650. Your return would be 9 X $210 or $1890 for a net profit of $240 which is 14.5% of the monies bet.

At this book you're dealing wih now, you'd bet a total of $100 X 15 or $1500 and would get back 9 X $100 X 1.98 = $1782 minus $178.20 or 1603.80 for a net profit of $103.80 which is 6.92% of the monies bet.

Conclusion? This book is charging you too much vig.

While in Vegas over this past holiday weekend, I happened onto a double deck game at the Casino Royale on the Strip. There were only three of us on the obvious card counter, another woman and myself. The pit boss(es) stood right behind the dealer(s) 90 percent of the time.

The deck was shuffled after every 3 hands...or sooner if the counter upped his bet too much.

And yet we were all still making good money.

The pit boss whispered to the dealer (being at first base I could hear this) to stop stripping out the cards. To his credit, the dealer 'forgot' to do this.

What difference would this have made?

Thanks for the reply in advance.

Dear AMS,
'Stripping' is an action that a dealer may use in between 'riffles' of the deck which essentially reverses the order of the cards. I am unaware of that action being either good or bad; my opinion is that the pit critter thought he'd make a difference in the win at the table, but -- like most in the business -- he doesn't know much about card counting. If stripping or not stripping made a real difference, then every casino would do it. The real effective move was the shallow penetration he was enforcing.

However, if that counter was smart, he was upping his bet when the count moved in favor of the house. That action forced the dealer to shuffle away 'bad' decks but, by flat-betting, the counter would keep the 'good' counts around a little longer.

That brings us to The GameMaster's "First Law of Blackjack Physics": For every countermeasure introduced by the casino, we will develop an equal, but opposite reaction.

What about buying some of the roulette or craps systems for sale, testing them, and publish your findings and evaluations in the magazine? I think that would be very interesting, cause I see quite a few systems for sale, and wouldn't mind buying one of them if I knew they worked. "If" is the operative word here!


Dear Jim,
We don't do that, since none of them work. There is no system which can consistently overcome the house edge in roulette or craps. It's like you and I tossing a coin. You pay me $1 when it comes up heads and I'll pay you 95 cents when it comes up tails. You may get ahead of me for a while, but in the long run I'll win.

Always remember "The GameMaster's Final Argument" - If these systems really worked, the guy who 'invented' it would be in the casino using it, and wouldn't be trying to sell it to you.

Hot Tip of the Month: At a Deuces Wild game, I often see players hold 2 pairs that are dealt to them. Remember, since the game pays only for trips or better, you should hold just one pair, unless the payoff on a Full House is 20 for 5 or more. Which pair should you keep? It doesn't matter, even if one is a high pair and the other is a low pair.
-the GameMaster


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