Slots,not for us!

September 11, 2007 1:23 AM
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This past week, my wife and I hosted a big end of summer barbeque with many friends.

Two of these friends had gone to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut the night before. One, who played craps, returned victorious. The other, who played blackjack, did not fare as well. Given what I do for a living, it should be no surprise that we spent some time talking about each of these casino games.

The one who played Craps lamented that although he was happy to have won, he was there for such a short time and didn’t have a chance to play any slots. I looked at him and said that this is why he came home a winner. He asked, "Slots are that bad?"

I responded the only way I knew how — with the truth. Yes, slots are that bad. Many are set to 92-93 percent paybacks. Today, you can’t even tell when you’ve won or lost. There are so many pay lines zigzagging across the screen, I always think I’ve won when I haven’t and can’t figure out why the machine is paying off when it does!

When we were done, he didn’t seem to mind not getting to the slot machines nearly as much. My friends acknowledged that basically all casino games have an advantage (for the house) and that the longer you play, the more likely you’ll lose.

One of my friends asked me about the best paying games. I mentioned video poker and how there are some games with a payback over 100 percent. He looked at me and said "but I thought you said slots were no good."

Right then and there, I knew I had my material for this week’s article.

If within my circle of friends they haven’t figured out that video poker is NOT slots, then there’s a good chance not all of my readers have figured it out. I also have to remember that each week there are new readers of GamingToday, which means repeating myself about important topics is not such a bad idea. So, allow me to say it again”¦ Video Poker is NOT Slots! Yes, they use some of the same technology. Yes, they are both housed in the same type of machine. That is where the similarities end. A slot machine can be programmed for any payback the casino wants and you’ll never know what it is. It is totally legal for it to be programmed to give you one near miss after another just to keep you coming back for more.

In most gaming jurisdictions, any video game that uses (simulates using) real life objects (dice, cards) must be completely random. It’s just as if they were using the same objects for real. Thus, in video poker, the dealing of the cards must be completely random. The odds of any single card being dealt are the same as any other that hasn’t already been dealt during that hand.

Once we acknowledge this is the case, we can calculate the exact payback of the video poker machine using the paytable, which also must be in plain sight. I’ll save the explanation of how this is done for next week.

So, the payback of every single video poker machine can be instantly known by simply reviewing the paytable. Now you can decide if the payback is good or bad with certainty. Because of this, we also know that the paybacks of video poker are FAR superior to that of slots.

I suppose the one downside is that video poker requires learning a strategy and working at it, while slots requires the ability to press a button. With slots, you’ll get the payback no matter what. With video poker, playing the wrong strategy will hurt you, which is also a key reason the paybacks are so much higher than slot machines.

As long as I’m repeating myself this week, I might as well go all the way and implore you all to break the slot habit. Give video poker a try. You won’t regret it.