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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.


Here are the latest Covid data. There is a difference in the hospitalization data for US versus NV. The CDC reports total number of Covid hospital admissions. Nevada reports current hospitalizations, not admissions.

All data comes from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html), except for Nevada current hospitalizations (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/).

Totals Weekly Changes
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths  Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths 
 11/10   46,541,113   3,257,025    753,564    457,039   703   7,759   516,764   33,219   8,290   5,539   34   103 
 11/03   46,024,349   3,223,806    745,274    451,500   669   7,656   555,915   38,028   9,226   4,327   45   109 
 10/26   45,468,434   3,185,778    736,048    447,173   624   7,547   488,829   42,265   9,842   4,753   (87)   96 
 10/19   44,979,605   3,143,513    726,206    442,420   711   7,451   578,396   11,963   4,381   136 
 10/12   44,401,209   714,243    438,039   7,315   795,586   14,067   15,710   149 
 10/05   43,605,623   700,176   422,329   7,166   554,194   10,642   3,852   121 
 09/28   43,051,429   689,534   418,477   7,045   817,218   14,463   6,160   165 
 09/21   42,234,211   675,071   412,317   6,880   971,637   14,691   7,466   152 
 09/14   41,262,574   660,380   404,851   6,728   1,176,763   12,919   10,256   145 
 09/07   40,085,811   647,461   394,595   6,583   975,725   10,076   5,237   104 
 08/31   39,110,086   637,385   389,358   6,479   1,113,414   9,385   7,592   173 
 08/24   37,996,672   628,000   381,649   6,306   1,045,491   7,507   8,117   116 
 08/17   36,951,181   620,493   373,649   6,190   959,978   4,715   7,065   150 
 08/10   35,991,203   615,778   366,584   6,040   819,524   3,987   7,652   122 
 08/03   35,171,679   611,791   358,932   5,918   622,832   2,279   7,489   81 
 07/27   34,548,847   609,012   351,443   5,837   652,251   2,394   8,347   79 
 07/20   33,896,296   606,618   341,096   5,758   169,933   1,478   3,351   28 
 07/13   33,726,363   605,140   339,745   5,730   181,047   1,959   4,982   33 
 07/06   33,545,316   603,181   334,763   5,697   75,104   1,373   2,234   27 
 06/29   33,470,212   601,808   332,529   5,670   87,507   2,057   3,020   24 
 06/22   33,382,705   599,751   329,509   5,646   75,420   2,157   1,930   22 
 06/15   33,303,285   597,594   327,579   5,624   95,797   2,293   1,560   17 
 06/08   33,207,488   595,301   326,019   5,607   114,250   3,762   2,271   21 
 06/01   33,039,238   591,539   323,748   5,586   123,333   3,709   991   27 
 05/25   32,969,905   587,830   322,757   5,559   174,125   4,234   1,676   26 
 05/18   32,795,780   583,596   321,081   5,533   223,966   4,230   2,301   27 
 05/11   32,571,814   579,366   318,780   5,506   303,856   4,687   2,541   33 
 05/04   32,267,958   574,679   316,239   5,473   343,348   4,908   2,559   40 
 04/27   31,924,610   569,771   313,680   5,433   383,163   4,958   2,747   65 
 04/20   31,541,447   564,813   310,933   5,368   464,556   5,072   2,590   36 
 04/13   31,076,891   559,741   308,343   5,332   480,061   5,321   2,986   57 
 04/06   30,596,830   554,420   305,357   5,275   448,935   7,124   3,084   38 
 03/30   30,147,895   547,296   302,273   5,237   439,510   6,793   939   63 
 03/23   29,708,385   540,503   301,334   5,174   388,928   7,446   1,863   53 
 03/16   29,319,457   533,057   299,471   5,121   381,695   8,362   3,078   81 
 03/09   28,937,762   524,695   296,393   5,040   480,902   11,573   2,413   83 
 03/02   28,456,860   513,122   293,980   4,957   463,356   14,129   2,835   75 
 02/23   27,993,504   498,993   291,145   4,882   451,083   13,923   2,406   162 
 02/16   27,542,421   485,070   288,739   4,720   602,906   21,411   4,149   198 
 02/09   26,939,515   463,659   284,590   4,522   779,305   21,828   5,444   244 
 02/02   26,160,210   441,831   279,146   4,278   1,007,777   22,004   7,249   249 
 01/26   25,152,433   419,827   271,897   4,029   1,312,565   23,385   10,324   250 
 01/19   23,839,868   396,442   261,573   3,779   1,317,119   21,318   11,324   279 
 01/12   22,522,749   375,124   250,249   3,500   1,790,345   22,660   17,217   294 
 01/05   20,732,404   352,464   233,032   3,206   1,499,561   18,435   14,655   233 
 12/29   19,232,843   334,029   218,377   2,973   1,258,540   15,460   12,493   186 
 12/22   17,974,303   318,569   205,884   2,787   1,656,411   18,537   16,472   239 
 12/15   16,317,892   300,032   189,412   2,548   1,494,763   17,247   18,825   229 
 12/08   14,823,129   282,785   170,587   2,319   1,375,502   15,483   18,418   175 
 12/01   13,447,627   267,302   152,169   2,144   1,114,175   10,286   15,942   121 
 11/24   12,333,452   257,016   136,227   2,023   1,197,199   10,784   14,130   106 
 11/17   11,136,253   246,232   122,097   1,917   1,099,790   8,501   11,115   65 
 11/10   10,036,463   237,731   110,982   1,852   767,645   6,838   8,868   68 
 11/03   9,268,818   230,893   102,114   1,784   588,207   5,809   5,936   35 
 10/27   8,680,611   225,084   96,178   1,749   492,026   5,585   5,238   (10) 
 10/20   8,188,585   219,499   90,940   1,759   401,037   5,053   4,501   48 
 10/13   7,787,548   214,446   86,439   1,711   351,270   4,886   3,910   48 
 10/06   7,436,278   209,560   82,529   1,663   306,965   4,962   3,232   36 
 09/29   7,129,313   204,598   79,297   1,627   303,616   5,136   3,058   54 
 09/22   6,825,697   199,462   76,239   1,573   288,070   5,370   2,196   82 
 09/15   6,537,627   194,092   72,043   1,491   250,265   5,404   1,825   65 
 09/08   6,287,362   188,688   72,218   1,426   282,919   5,638   2,734   92 
 09/01   6,004,443   183,050   69,484   1,334   251,790   5,291   3,237   104 
 08/25   5,752,653   177,759   66,247   1,230   330,411   7,889   4,076   125 
 08/18   5,422,242   169,870   62,171   1,105   358,071   7,463   4,973   114 
 08/11   5,064,171   162,407   57,198   991   365,353   7,203   5,776   117 
 08/04   4,698,818   155,204   51,422   874   418,683   7,532   7,367   109 
 07/28   4,280,135   147,672   44,055   764   460,996   7,042   7,130   91 
 07/21   3,819,139  140,630  36,195  674  463,682  5,395  8,181  57 
 07/14   3,355,457   135,235   28,744   617   422,861   5,102   5,607   57 
 07/07   2,932,596   130,133   23,137   560   351,367   3,394   5,006   24 
 06/30   2,581,229   126,739   18,131   536   278,941   6,406   4,367   26 
 06/23   2,302,288   120,333   13,764   510 
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