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Ask the Slot Expert: Bonus Roundus Interruptus

10 November 2021

About 11am, Tuesday morning, Suncoast Casino. I had just played 2000 hands of NSU. Another loss. At least it wasn't a shellacking like some recent sessions. Even though I had to feed the machine more times than I think I should have, at least I got some play for my money.

Next stops: my preferred Quick Hit machines. A couple of times in the past few weeks I've been able to win back the money I lost playing video poker by playing these Quick Hit machines.

First spin on my favorite Quick Hit Blitz Red machine. The screen dimmed. Shooting stars appeared in the reel area. Bonus Round!

I just barely got the first three jackpot upgrades, taking all three spins to get enough Blitz symbols. Things looked pretty bleak on the fourth level. Last spin and I still needed seven Blitzes.

First reel, no Blitz. Second reel, no Blitz. This is hopeless. Third reel, two Blitzes at the bottom. At least they're in a good position to not block too many paying combinations. Fourth reel, two more Blitzes. Right next to the ones on the third reel. Perfect position because those two bottom rows already had blocking Blitz symbols in the third reel.

Machine went into suspense mode. It's possible to get enough Blitzes on the last reel to win the jackpot upgrade. The machine played suspenseful music and took an extra long time to stop the fifth reel.

When it finally stopped, I had three more Blitzes. Jackpot Upgrade!

Total winnings for bonus round: $139.55.

It doesn't buy me a seat to space on a Blue Origin flight, but I'll take it.

Later on, I hit the bonus again. This time without being foreshadowed by the shooting stars.

Most, if not all, of the foreshadowing I've seen has been on Quick Hit machines. Most of the time, the combination foreshadowed is a bonus round hit. Some of the time, though, it has been a high-paying combination, like six Quick Hit symbols.

The Quick Hit Blitz programmers struck a good balance on these machine. Most of the time, the bonus hit is foreshadowed. But every once in a while a bonus round hit strikes seemingly out of the blue, without being foreshadowed. Those hits are nice surprises. Even though you've gotten two bonus symbols, you figure that you're not going to get the third because the spin didn't start with shooting stars. But then the third bonus symbol appears. Surprise!

Do you like it when machines foreshadow a winning combination?

First bonus spin. Only need five Blitz symbols for a Jackpot Upgrade. I get only one. Worse, I didn't hit any paying combinations on the spin either. Hoping for better luck on the second spin. And then--

Darkness. The lights went out in the casino.

Not just the lights. All of the machines too. You wouldn't believe how dark a casino is when the lights and machines are off and there is only the emergency lighting. At least the music wasn't affected and, for a change, I could actually hear it in this area.

I wasn't worried about my machine. I knew that my machine would pick up right where it left off when the power came back. I was just worried that it might take a long time for power to be restored. And if I wanted to leave before power was restored, I was concerned about what would happen because my situation was not as simple as just getting my credits from the machine. I was in the middle of a play. And, worse than that, I was in the middle of a bonus round.

Maybe it was two minutes. Maybe three. It wasn't long enough for anyone to get antsy. The lights came back on.

Now the real wait began. You think your Windows laptop takes a long time to boot up, wait till you see how long it takes a slot machine to reboot. I knew I was in for a long wait when one of the boot screens displayed the Windows Embedded logo.

I compared my machines to the ones near me to see which machine would come back up first. The two reel-spinning machines across the aisle from me looked like they were goners. Both were displaying a reel tilt (reels constantly spinning) and one displayed "Call Attendant" in its top screen.

I lost the race. A lady playing another Scientific Games machine diagonally across from me was spinning her reels again while my machine was still displaying a progress bar. Even the Quick Hit Blitz Blue machine next to me was back in action before my machine.

When my machine was finally back in action, it took me back to the beginning of the bonus round. I'm pretty sure that the first spin was just a replay of the spin before the power went out. Even though the machine did not come back in the exact state (second bonus spin) it was in when it lost power, it came back up at its last restore point and then replayed events to get back to the same state.

This bonus round was disappointing. Only $55.

Even more disappointing was that there was something goofy going on with the slot club system. Instead of displaying session points, the readers displayed this message: "Retrieving balance info. Please keep playing."

Even though I know that the slot club subsystem in a machine has to retain play data when it can't communicate with the slot club server and it will continually try to send the data for a number of days, I still feel more comfortable when I can see my points accumulating.

I've gotten the same message in the past on other machines. Re-inserting my card usually clears the message, but not today. I saw many card reader displays with the same message.

Next stop, my favorite Quick Hit Reel Boost machine. Still no session point display. I played for a little while, quitting after I had gotten two bonus rounds.

I checked my point totals at a kiosk before leaving the casino. It looks like all of my play had been recorded in the system, but I don't know for sure because I don't know how much slot play I gave. I'll check my totals on my next visit to see anything posted after I left.


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John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots