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# A shuffle through the gaming mailbag

13 October 2011

Q. I have a question about the random number generator in slot machines. If there are 1,000 possible combinations, does the random number generator have to choose them all before there can be a new cycle? If that's the case, then wouldn't you want to leave a machine after a big hit, since that combination wouldn't be available?

A. Every combination is available on every spin of a slot machines. Random numbers that are selected are not eliminated from the number set for the next play.

The machines aren't programmed so that after 1,000 plays, they've given back exactly their target percentage, and that after the next 1,000, they're back exactly on target, and so on. Game designers just set the odds of the game so that over hundreds of thousands of plays, they will lead to a payback percentage very close to the target.

If the games were programmed as you say, then yes, you would want to leave a machine after a big hit. But that's not how they're programmed.

Q. Does it matter how fast or slow you play on a slot machine? My sister likes to play slow until she gets a couple of wins, and then she tries to get in a steady rhythm. She says that once she breaks the ice, if she plays fast and steady, she wins more.

A. Neither fast play, slow play nor anything in between make any difference to the random number generator that determines what you see on the reels or screen. In the long run, you'll get the same payback percentage regardless of your speed of play.

Where speed of play does make a difference is in the total amount wagered. If you wager 40 cents a spin on a penny slot for 500 spins in an hour, you're risking \$200. If I wager the same 40 cents a spin but spin the reels only 100 spins in an hour, I'm risking \$40. Given equal bet sizes, faster play means more money risked per hour, with resulting larger contributions to the casino's bottom line.

Q. I was playing Quick Quads, and I had a hand I wasn't quite sure what to do with. It was in Double Double Bonus Poker, and I had A-A-2-2-8. You have that big payoff for four aces plus a low kicker, so usually I just hold the aces whenever I'm playing Double Double Bonus. That's what I did here, but I was wondering if the Quick Quads play might be different.

A. For those who don't know Quick Quads, it's a video poker game designed to give the player more four-of-a-kind hands. If you have three of a kind, and the other two cards add up to a match those cards, you get the four-of-a-kind payoff. For example, if you have 7-7-7 and the other two cards are a 5 and a 2, then the 5-2 add up to a 7 that rounds out your quads.

A-A-2-2 is a Quick Quads keeper. If you draw a third deuce, then the aces add up to a fourth 2, and you get a nice four deuces pay. Even in Double Double Bonus, we hold both pairs when dealt A-A-2-2. Draw an ace and you have a full house. Draw a 2, and you have four of a kind. Combined, that gives you a better average return than if you tossed three cards for a long-shot draw at four aces, and a longer shot at four aces plus a kicker.

For those wondering how the game can afford to give out all these extra quads, you pay for it with a sixth-coin bet per hand. It's not a bad deal. In all games available on the Quick Quads format, the payback percentage is higher if you make the extra bet than if you don't. Given expert play, 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker rises from 98.98% return to 99.65, and 9/5 Double Double Bonus increases from 97.02% with five coins wagered to 97.95% with a six-coin bet.

The extra bet does add volatility to the game. You're still getting only five-coin paybacks on hands other than Quick Quads. All the return on the sixth coin is concentrated on the extra fours of a kind.

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John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.