Quick strike!

Feb 19, 2008 4:02 AM

Recently, a man hit a $1.7 million instant jackpot after playing for only 15 minutes and investing $59 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

At Sunset Station, a woman hit a $200,000 Wheel of Fortune jackpot after investing $3.75 and spinning the reels only three times.

On Valentine’s Day, an 82-year-old man hit a $199,000 Wheel of Fortune (quarters) jackpot after investing only $3.

And a week ago, a man from Idaho hit a $1 million Wheel of Fortune jackpot at Cactus Pete’s Casino (in Jackpot, Nevada) after investing only $30 in the machine.

Do we see a pattern here?

It seems that nearly every time someone wins a huge jackpot such as Megabucks or Wheel of Fortune, the winner recounts playing for "just a few minutes" and having spent "just a few dollars" before striking it rich.

I can’t remember ever hearing a progressive jackpot winner reveal "playing for 18 straight hours" and pumping "my entire bank account" into the machine before hitting the top award.

Is it some kind of coincidence that all jackpot winners appear to stumble into a life-altering windfall? Is it the nature of luck that you will win when it’s "your time," and that no amount of playing will produce a win unless it is, in fact, your time?

Or is there a link between winning and the early stages of a machine’s cycle, assuming there is such a thing as a machine’s cycle?

I confess I support the latter theory — it’s been my experience that video keno jackpots come relatively early in the playing session, or that they come shortly after "resetting" the machine, a practice I’ve used for years to duplicate the "sequencing" that occurs at the start of a machine’s cycle.

While there are players who don’t subscribe to the "cycle theory" of how a machine works, I’ve seen enough jackpots to believe that there is a cycle.

When I first started playing video keno, I often played downtown where they had plenty of the older Fortune, upright keno machines. And many times I would hit jackpots such as 8-out-of-9 or 8-out-of-10 on cold, idle machines that were on either side of me, as I waited for a hand-pay jackpot for the machine in front of me.

When those machines started to disappear and I began playing IGT’s Game King or Bally’s Keno Plus machines, I found that a lot of my jackpots occurred shortly after depositing money. I also found that cashing out and starting over (a practice I now call "resetting" the machine) seemed to simulate the early cycle, often leading to a nice jackpot.

One of the best jackpots I ever hit after "resetting" the machine came on a 25-cent Keno Plus machine on which I was playing the Triple Trouble keno game. If you’ve never played it, Triple Trouble has a bonus feature in which all payoffs are tripled for three games.

Well, after some uneventful play on an 8-spot card, the machine went into its bonus round and rung up 7-of-8 numbers. Thus, the regular $1,600 jackpot was tripled to more than $4,800!

The advent of ticket-in, ticket-out has made resetting the machine quicker and easier. It’s simply a matter of hitting "cash out" then reinserting the ticket into the machine.

There is one caveat, however, when re-setting the coinless machines: If the machine is a multi-game, multi-denominational keno machine, I recommend exiting the game before reinserting the ticket.

This involves leaving the keno game you’re playing (Four Card Keno, Multi-Card Keno, Power Keno, Caveman Keno, etc.), exiting to the menu screen (where all the games are listed), then returning to your particular game.

Even though this requires that you remark all your cards (assuming you’re playing a multi-card keno game), it ensures the machine is, in fact, starting fresh. It seems to make a real difference.

When I’m playing aggressively, I don’t wait very long to reset the machine. Especially when the machine appears to be in a funk. By that I mean the numbers continually fall short of the minimum needed for a hit — such as 3-out-of-8, 3-out-of-9, 2-out-of-7 and 4-out-of-10.

When the machine is so uncooperative, I’ll reset after as few as three or four games. It sometimes catches the people next to me by surprise — the ticket printer makes a distinctive, albeit annoying, sound.

I’ve even had folks ask me, "Does that help at all?"

It’s nice to say yes and validate it with a W-2 jackpot!