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Ask the Slot Expert: Determining results on a slot machine: RNG. Bingo drawing. Horse race?

1 September 2021

Question: Historic Horse Racing slots are coming to NH. I think I have a good understanding of how class III slots work. I have no idea how class II machines work. How the hell do you go from racing results to the display of the wheels. Can you help?

Answer: On his old show, The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert had a recurring bit called Craziest F#?King Thing I've Ever Heard. I've heard some crazy things lately.

I received an e-mail from a high-end audio retailer in England advertising their latest product, an "audiophile network switch" to put between your cable modem/WiFi router and your network-attached HiFi equipment. This switch consists of two boxes -- one with the noisy power supply and the other with the components that actually switch the network data between the ports. A reviewer wrote that this switch made "music more approachable and listenable. It replaced that fake ‘clean’ sound with a sense of balance and musical order”.

The thing is, digital data is zeros and ones. It's not an analog waveform. Given the same input, the output from the audiophile switch and the output from an inexpensive D-Link or Netgear switch will be identical. How can the same 1s and 0s that came out of the audiophile switch sound better?

Another crazy thing I heard recently is the way Nevada, or Clark County, at least, does jury selection. I reported for my first jury duty in Las Vegas a few days ago. It started the same as jury duty in Union County, New Jersey, the only other place in which I've done jury duty, before veering off to Crazy Town.

Reporting time was 8AM. Checking in has gotten much faster since I started being called for jury duty 30-something years ago now that the process has been computerized. A few minutes after we were all checked in, the jury manager, or whatever they call the person in charge of the venire (a legal term for the pool of prospective jurors that I'd never heard before googling voir dire), thanked us for showing up. Then she showed a video that gave an overview of the jury selection process and left out about 90% of the details.

After the video, she told us we would all be going to a courtroom later and we could take a 20-minute break. That break ticked me off a little because they made me report at 8AM and I don't usually get up until 8AM.

When the break was over, the marshal (bailiff) assigned to the courtroom was in the jury waiting room to escort us to his courtroom. The jury manager instructed us to line up in the order in which she called our names.

I recognized this procedure when random selection changed from a clerk drawing slips with our names on them from a box to the computer in the jury manager's office randomizing the order of the jurors. I was about number 30.

When we the roughly 40 of us got to the courtroom, the marshal had us line up again in the order in which we were called. He then led us into the courtroom and directed us where to sit to achieve some degree of physical distancing.

The judge then thanked us for showing up and told us that this was a civil trial and 10 jurors were needed, eight that would deliberate and two alternates. The alternates would be chosen at the conclusion of the trial, so everyone chosen should pay close attention to the testimony.

She then asked the attorneys to introduce themselves. I recognized the name of the plaintiff's attorney from his firm's commercials. The judge asked each attorney to give a brief description of what they're contending and list the dramatis personae for their side.

The judge then addressed some questions to the entire jury pool. Are we all 18 or older? Are we all residents of Clark County? She said the trial was expected to take all of the following week and asked if that presented a hardship for anyone. One young lady said she was in college and couldn't afford to miss a week's worth of classes. Another person was supposed to start a new job as a pharmacist that week.

One lady said she was moving out of state and she already had her ticket. The judge asked her when her flight was and she said February. Probably not going to be a problem, I thought. A few minutes later the lady corrected herself. She said she checked her reservation on her phone and her flight is actually around the middle of September.

How can you confuse September and February? Would she have been five months late for her flight?

A few people said they had a situation (treatment, disease, medication) that made needing to use the bathroom urgent and unpredictable. I thought that if the problem was real, they should have gotten a doctor's note and been excused by the jury manager and never have gotten this far.

The judge asked us all if we knew anyone connected with the trial: attorney, plaintiff, defendant or witness. One man said he was a neighbor of the plaintiff's attorney and their kids go to the same school.

In my past experience, after hearing that the judge would excuse the juror from that trial and send him back to the jury waiting room. This judge did nothing. I think the man was in the courtroom for the entire jury selection process even though he would be excused with cause. That was weird.

The first 20 of us were sat in the jury box and in two rows of seats in front of the jury box. They were given a sheet with additional questions. How long have you lived here? Occupation? Married or single? Ever been sued or sued someone else? Ever been in a car accident? Ever served on a juror before?

One by one the first 20, I'll call the A-Team, answered the questions. When they were done, I expected the judge to ask the plaintiff's attorney if he would like to challenge a juror and for him to then ask the judge to excuse a particular juror. The judge would then thank the juror and send him or her back to the jury waiting room. The next person in the random order would take their place. That prospective juror would then answer the questions and the defendant's attorney would have the opportunity to challenge a juror.

The process would continue until each side said the jury was satisfactory, or they ran out of challenges, or they ran out of potential jurors and needed to get fresh blood from the jury manager.

In Union County, I was never chosen as a juror. I was either excused by the judge or challenged by one of the attorneys. I never spent more than a couple of hours at any one trial. In the course of one two-day stint, I went to three or four trials as a prospective juror.

By the end of our term of service, we were mixed in with people we hadn't been with before. I was at one trial sitting next to a woman a little bit younger than I was at the time. The attorneys were unable to get a jury from the initial batch of potential jurors sent and we were the next batch of potential jurors.

One of the attorneys challenged one the jurors in the box and the clerk called out the name of the next person in the random order -- an older gentleman that my neighbor knew well. She said that he would be excused.

He never even made it into the jury box. The judge asked him if there was a reason he could not be an impartial juror in this case (a criminal case with a Black defendant) and he replied in the affirmative. The judge excused him right then and there.

Back in New Jersey, it took a couple of hours to select a jury. Here in Las Vegas, after the judge finished with her questions, she said the plaintiff's attorney would then ask some questions and it was all aboard for Crazy Town.

He started with the Speed Dating round. "What is your passion in life? What makes you get out of bed? Everyone says family or work, so those are out. Tell me something else."

One by one, each person on the A-Team answered that question and any follow-up questions the attorney had. At the end of this round, we went to the Focus Group round. He asked them more details about their car accidents, whether they were hurt, whether they were satisfied with how their insurance company treated them, etc.

Then it was time for a lunch break. After lunch, the Focus Group round continued with discussions of damages awarded for pain and suffering and loss of future earnings.

At 5PM, the judge said we were done for the day and we should report back to the courtroom at 8:30AM the next morning for what was expected to be a half day. Already I had never spent that much time as a prospective juror for one trial and now I had to come back.

The next day, after the marshal lined us up and took attendance, he told us the court was not ready for us yet so we could take a 15-minute break.

Eventually we retook our assigned seats in the courtroom. The plaintiff's attorney asked a few more questions and then finally said he was finished. (I was finished with this process three-quarters of the way through the day before!)

Next it was the defendant's attorney's turn. She did a few hours of Focus Group before finishing with another Speed Dating round. "What one word would other people use to describe you?"

When she was done, the judge sent us out on a 20-minute break so the attorneys could exercise their challenges. I think that's what she said. She was difficult to understand with her mask.

When we were called back in, the clerk read the names of the 10 people on the A-Team who were chosen as jurors. The judge thanked the rest of the A-Team for their cooperation. Then she thanked the rest of us for our patience. Even though we did not participate, she said we were an important part of the jury selection process. Anyone who was not chosen to be a juror had finished their jury service and could leave.

I have to admit that I was disappointed in that I didn't see what would happen in the attorneys could not agree on 10 people from the A-Team. Would the replacement jurors be interviewed extensively? Would the attorneys have to accept the replacements with no questioning? I don't know and the video did not address the jury selection process in detail.

Forty people, a day and a half to chose 10 jurors. I had never experienced anything like that in New Jersey.

In 1969, New Jersey reformed the jury selection process to give the judge a larger role and the attorneys smaller roles because the process was taking too long. Over time a standard (and mandatory) set of voir dire questions were devised and a method for attorneys to propose additional questions was developed.

The following passage is excerpted from Standards for Jury Selection issued on December 11, 2006 after a Special Committee on Peremptory Challenges and Jury Voir Dire presented a report to further improve the jury selection process in New Jersey.

Standard 4. Attorney Participation

At the discretion of the trial judge, if requested by counsel, at least some participation by counsel in the questioning of jurors should be permitted.

Since 1969, the conduct of jury voir dire, which had previously allowed extensive attorney participation, has been primarily in the hands of the trial judge. State v. Manley, 54 N.J. 259 (1969). There is no suggestion that we should revert to the pre-Manley practices or anything close to them. During the course of the Special Committee's work, there was no outcry from the bar to allow attorney participation. However, in some cases practitioners have requested at least some involvement. Rule 1:8-3(a) allows attorney participation, and Rule 1:8-3(f) requires discussion of the practice, if requested by counsel, during the pre-voir dire conference.

The admonitions of the Court in Manley are as true today as they were when that opinion was written. The undue consumption of time and the undesirable practice of juror indoctrination as consequences of attorney participation must be avoided. The judge thus should continue to exercise the primary role in questioning jurors.

The Special Committee in its report encouraged the allowance of some attorney participation if requested. But whether to allow it and, if allowed, the manner and scope of the practice must remain discretionary with the trial judge. The most common aspect of attorney participation used by some judges involves follow-up questions. This occurs mostly at sidebar, but sometimes also in open court. When a prospective juror is called to sidebar, it is typically to discuss an issue that calls for follow-up questioning. This fluid process makes subsequent questions appropriate based upon answers given by the juror. Attorneys should be permitted, if they wish, to participate in these sidebar discussions with jurors. Typically, sidebar discussions are more conversational and much less formal than colloquy that is conducted in open court. With the court's permission, they should also be permitted limited participation in follow-up questioning in open court.

Greater restraint should be placed on requests for attorney participation in initial questioning. In this regard, all of the initial questions will have been resolved in the pre-voir dire conference, and there is no demonstrable reason why the questions would be better posed by counsel than by the judge. This remains a discretionary issue. However, the standards do not envision widespread use of attorney participation in initial questioning.

I've been deposed as a witness twice and testified at trial once and the sum total of the time spent in those experiences was less than the time it took to choose this jury.

Another crazy thing is the new Samsung TV I bought during Amazon Prime Days. It's called The Frame because it can display artwork or your own pictures when it is not being used as a TV. I didn't care about that feature. I just wanted a larger TV for my bedroom and the price was right.

Here's the thing. When you turn off the TV it goes into art mode and displays a painting. To really turn it off you have to press the Off button again in a special way. You have to press and hold the Off button to really turn off the unit.

Most Off buttons on universal remotes send a pulse when you press it, not a continuous stream of commands. You have to use the remote that came with the set. One customer commented on a message board that he was trying to cut down on the number of remotes he needed and now he is forced to use the TV's remote to turn it off.

There is no software setting to tell the unit to disable art mode and just turn off when it gets the off command.

Crazy.

So, what was the question again? Oh yes, Historical Horse Racing (HHR) slots. Sounds like another crazy idea. Are RNGs really so evil that we have to find elaborate ways around them?

I can see the Class II slots based on bingo drawings. Class II let Native American tribes offer slot machines in their casinos because they were already allowed to have bingo games. Class II slots are just a more entertaining way to show the results of a bingo drawing than daubing numbers on a bingo card. (And much faster, too!) The tribes didn't need additional action from the state government unless they wanted to have Class III (RNG-based) machines.

Historical horse racing slots are just another dodge around the RNG and, like Class II slots, take a very simple process (results based on the output from an RNG) and turn it into a complicated procedure.

Betting on a past race sounds like something out of Back to the Future when Biff took a sports almanac back in time to give to his younger self. To quote Homer Simpson from the Simpsons slot that disappeared too quickly from slot floors, "Woohoo! I can't lose!"

Well, you can lose. Even though the results of the spin are based on a past race, the machine doesn't tell you which race your spin is based on until after the spin is over.

Exacta is one of the companies that offers HHRs. They recently received a patent for a method to use multiple horse races (or other sporting events) to determine the results of a wager.

In the method described in the patent, you are really betting on your ability to determine the order in which the horses in a race will finish. The example in the patent uses three races. The system determines an initial ranking for each horse in each race based on the odds for each horse to win the race. For example, the odds may say that horse 9 is the favorite to finish first in race 1 and that horse 5 may be the least favorite to win the race. Horse 9 is ranked 1 and horse 5 is ranked 10.

Players can alter the rankings of the horses in the races. If a player thinks horse 5 will do better then dead last, he can move that horse up and shift the other horses around.

When you press the button to initiate the spin, you can ignore the replay of the race displayed on the screen in the same way that Class II players ignore the display showing the results of the bingo drawing on their machines.

To get the result of your spin, the machine builds a binary number by comparing your predictions with the actual order in which the horses finished. If horse 9 won that race, you get in 1 in the position for rank 1, race 1. If you predicted horse 1 would come in second in race 2 and horse 4 actually came in second, you would get a 0 in the position for rank 2, race 2.

The machine ends up with a binary number like 001000100000000000000001000000. Each 1 represents a correct prediction and each 0 represents an incorrect prediction. The slot then looks in a table of results to find the result that corresponds to this number. Then it spins the reels to reveal the result.

Sounds like a lot of work to just spin the reels, right? Well, players can ignore all this silliness and just hit the Spin button to accept the rankings provided by the system.

Oh, the lengths to which some machines have to go just to avoid using an RNG.

Sources:


Here are the latest figures from https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases.

Totals Weekly Increases
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Deaths  Cases  Deaths  Cases  Deaths  Cases  Deaths 
 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