Stop slots!

June 29, 2010 7:03 AM
by

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent time in my column beating up the casinos for offering paytables that are less than desirable. I’ve also taken some players to task for continuing to play these paytables, which is hardly going to convince the casinos to raise them.

But, even the worst paying video poker is likely higher paying than the best slot machine. Of course, while we can discern which video poker machine is the worst, we have no idea which slot machine is the best.

In fact, the casinos can change the payback overnight of any slot machine in the house and you’d never know it. There is nothing to tell you that yesterday the machine was set to pay back 92% and today it is set to pay back 82%. While they can do similar with a video poker machine, any knowledgeable player will figure it out the second they see that all the payouts have been cut.

In video poker if you want to change the payback, you MUST change the payouts. With slot machines, you can simply make them payout less often, but pay the same amounts for each winning combination.

With video poker, what you see is what you get. Each card is drawn randomly from the deck. The machine does NOT take notice of what hand you are forming and decide to switch one to make sure you don’t wind up with a Flush or Straight or Full House.

With slot machines, near misses are PURPOSEFULLY programmed into the game to make you feel like you were so close to winning. There is no requirement that each symbol show up with the same probability or that what shows up on reel #1 doesn’t impact what will show up on reel #2.

With today’s newer systems, the casino doesn’t even have to go to each slot machine to reprogram its payout. Many are now controlled from a central server. So, some suit can be sitting in his office and program all the slot machines to payout 1% less than they did yesterday and not a single player will know.

Again, they can do this with video poker too, but when you see that the payout on a Full House went from 9 to 8, you’ll know something is up. In fact, the guy in the suit doesn’t even actually have to do anything. It would be quite easy for the casino to set up the program to lower the paybacks on all the machines beginning at Friday noon in anticipation of the weekend crowd. Maybe lower it two points before a big holiday weekend.

With the slot machine, no one will have any idea this is going on. With video poker, everyone will know what the casino is up to. This is why it is far less likely for them to play this game with video poker. I doubt any casino wants to get a reputation for lowering its paybacks as a holiday weekend approaches. With slot machines, however, the number of people even in the casino who will know what is going on may be only a handful.

So, while I counsel people to play only full-pay video poker (or at least NEAR full-pay video poker), the only advice I can give to slot players is to avoid them 100 percent. Even if some of them were programmed to pay 99.5 percent like jacks or better, the player would have no way of knowing which one paid this and when. The fact that the average payout for a slot machine is maybe 92 percent means that not only do you not know which pays more, even the ones that DO pay more are STILL not worth playing!

This coming weekend, we celebrate the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Declare your own independence this week – from slot machines.

To help you on the road to independence, our July 4 special continues until the end of July. You can get BOTH Winning Strategies for Video Poker AND Video Poker: America’s National Game of Chance for $15 (a $34.90 value!), which includes Priority Mail shipping. Send a check or money order to Compu-Flyers, P.O. Box 132, Bogota, NJ 07603 and break the slot habit today!