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Best of John Grochowski

Gaming Guru

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Play This Machine, Not That Machine

18 July 2021

In more than 30 years as a player, I've received a lot of advice, some good, some bad, some indifferent.

It was the bad advice that had my wife and I laughing a few weeks ago when the conversation turned to slot tips. The tips may not have been good, but they were memorable.

  • PLAY THIS MACHINE! On a 1980s trip to Las Vegas, Marcy and I were walking the slot aisles in a casino near the north end of the Strip when a couple toting plastic buckets filled with quarters came rushing up to us.

Big grins were on their enthusiastic faces and the woman pointed and shouted, "You have to play that machine!" Joining in the moment, the man said, "We have to go to the airport now, but we've been playing for three days. The same machine. It's paid for our whole trip."

They went on their way. Marcy asked, "What do you think?"

I said, "They're probably shills, but we're playing anyway. No harm in playing one machine over another."

Twenty dollars and a few minutes later, it was on to a different game.

Slot shills were more common than they are now. My mom once saw a man who was playing two $5 slots outside a downtown Las Vega casino. He was surrounded by plastic racks filled with $5 tokens. The area was roped off and had security guards at either end.

The player couldn't lose, and as tokens poured out of one machine he'd pull the handle on the other.

When the player left, the games were shut down. But the impression of winning was there for passers-by.

  • DON'T PLAY THAT MACHINE! It was fairly early in the development of video slots. The first Monopoly slots were just being introduced and I went to a press event for the unveiling.

On a three-reel game, I was lucky enough to land on Boardwalk and win something like 1,000 quarters,

When I moved to video, someone walked behind me and shouted, "Don't you know any better than that? The video slots are computers, don't you know that? They can be fixed against you."

It's no easier to "fix" a video slot than a reel-spinner, but I wasn't getting in a public dispute. I had work to do. That I landed on Boardwalk on video, too, and won 2,000 nickels was just gravy.

  • I WOULDN'T USE THAT CARD IF I WERE YOU: Marcy and I took a bus trip to a casino a couple of hours from our home. I wanted to see what it was like for my Chicago newspaper column, so we signed up.

Everyone was very friendly and the time passed quickly. The guide passed out packets with lunch vouchers, a $5 slot voucher and player rewards cards.

We found two machines together and both reached for our new club cards. Another player shouted, "Stop! You really don't want to do that."

I asked why not, and that was his cue to walk down the row to deliver his lecture.

"They take it right off your return. As soon as the machine knows you're playing with a card, it goes into low-pay drive."

I said, "We'll risk it," and we both put our cards in. The random number generator doesn't know whether you're using a card. Your payback is unaffected, and If you can pick up free play, cash back, meals or any other comps, so much the better.

The other player shook his head and gave a parting shot. "I wouldn't use that card if I were you."

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski