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Slot bonuses and secondary hits

11 October 2012

QUESTION: Don’t the paybacks on bonus rounds have to be set in advance? If your choices made a difference, they wouldn’t know how much to count the bonus in programming the payback percentage.

ANSWER: Your choices do count on most manufacturers’ bonus events. The programmer sets the possibilities, and just as on the base slot game, that determines the odds of the game. If I make up a simple bonus event in which three pick’em spots hide bonus values of 25, 50 and 75 credits, then sometimes your choice will bring a bigger bonus than others, but your average bonus will be 50 credits.

The math is more complex in bigger bonus events with more choices, but that’s basically the way it works. Over a very long time, everything that can happen eventually will, and that will lead to an average value on the bonus event. The programmer doesn’t have to fix the value of the event; the odds of the game will lead to an average return.

QUESTION: Don’t random number generators on the slots really generate two numbers, then pick one? That’s not random if when it generates a winner and a loser, it can still pick the loser.

That’s called a “secondary decision,” and it’s not legal in commercial casinos in the U.S. Early computerized slots manufactured by Universal selected an outcome from a pool of all possible winning outcomes, along with a weighted number of losers. If it was a winner, that specific result was shown on the reels. If it was a loser, then a secondary decision was made to show what losing combination to show on the reels.

Nothing in that program was cheating players or changing the odds. Winning combinations were not rejected in favor of losers. Nonetheless, some people questioned the randomness of the games, and that led Nevada to ban secondary decisions. Other gaming jurisdictions followed suit.

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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.

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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.