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Ask the Slot Expert: Do you win more when you don't use a players card?

19 January 2022

Question: I just won $300 bucks but spent $120 doing it. My boss won $3,500 from $80. I am a player's club member. My boss is not. It seems like I usually win more when I don't sign in.

Do you think something is amiss with that?

Answer: No, I don't think anything is amiss for many reasons.

First, weird things happen in small sample sizes.

I've had some NSU sessions in which I've hit three sets of deuces. I've lately been doing a slot floor tour, playing 100 spins on my two favorite Quick Hit machines, 100 spins on a Monopoly machine, and then 100 spins on a Game of Thrones machine.

After a streak of profitable tours, my luck turned and I was losing money on each machine. I used my card every single time I played.

The bottom line is that you have too few plays to be able to draw any kind of conclusion.

Second, the games you played and the amount you bet could have made a difference. Did you play the same machine, one after the other? Or, at least, the same game, maybe on side-by-side machines? Did you bet the same amount per spin? And, for that matter, did you play the same number of spins?

If you want to argue that using a card affects results, you have to hold all of the other variables constant. That is, card or no card is the only thing that can be different between the two sets of observations. Otherwise, you don't know whether card usage caused the difference or one of the other variables.

Finally, regulations for RNG-based games typically require that the RNG not have any outside influences. Day of week, holidays, conventions, time of day, usage of players card -- none of these things have any affect on the RNG and, thus, they don't have any affect on the results of a spin.

I've had many players tell me that it seems like they have better results when they don't use their card. Their reasoning is that the casino has to cheap out on what you win to pay for all the benefits you're earning.

Rare, but still out there, are players who tell me that it seems like they have better results when they use their cards. Their reasoning is that the casino wants to reward its regular customers and keep them coming back. There's a maxim in marketing that it is cheaper and easier to get a current customer to buy more than to turn a non-customer into a regular customer.

One group thinks you're better off not using a card. The other thinks the opposite. I call that the yin-and-yang of slot club card usage. Both groups can't be right. The truth is that probably neither is right and using your card has no affect on machine results.

I was recently playing my favorite Quick Hit Blitz Red machine. A lady sat down to play the Quick Hit Blitz Blue machine next to me. We were both hitting more than our fair share of Blitz bonus rounds. (Sometimes I go 100-200 spins with no bonus, sometimes I get multiple bonuses in far fewer than 100 spins.) We were both using our cards. She was winning far more (hundreds of dollars versus tens) in her bonus rounds, though.

I emphasized the words it seems in the statements above. Players' impressions about their play results are unreliable. People tend to remember events that confirm their theories, and place more weight on them, than events that go counter to their theories.

We don't have to rely on what seems to be happening. Players can keep track of their results with and without using a card. Then we'd have hard data instead of impressions.

One thing, though, is that you can't use amount won or lost as the measure being tested. Payback is far too volatile to test with a reasonable number (say, under 10,000,000) plays.

Hit Frequency, on the other hand, is perfect. We can compare the Hit Frequency of 500-1000 spins both with and without using a card. The frequencies should be very close, indicating that card usage has no affect on results.

Nothing is amiss in your experience. The only thing you can do is what I did with my Quick Hit Blitz neighbor.

I silently grumbled to myself that my luck in the bonus rounds wasn't anywhere near as good as hers. When I got up to try my luck on another machine, I wished her continued good luck.


Last week I wrote that some of the talking heads on TV are the source of Covid confusion, partly because of the limited amount of screen time they get. Consider this exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Dr. Leana Wen on January 14, 2022.

BLITZER: We're following breaking pandemic news right now. New mask guidance just released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the COVID omicron variant aggressively spreads in the United States, nearly 800,000 cases on average just yesterday.

[18:15:10]

Let's talk about the breaking news with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen, what do you make of this updated mask guidance from the CDC now encouraging Americans to upgrade their masks to the -- either the N-95 or the KN-95 for better protection?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I strongly agree with the CDC recommendation, although I wish that it came out much sooner because we have known for over a year that COVID is airborne and our quality of mask really matters, that it's best that if you wear an N-95, KN-95 or KF-94 mask. If you're unable to do that, at least wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top of that. But a single layer of cloth mask just is not enough.

I think back to the CDC had changed their guidelines months ago, we could have reduced the delta surge and we might not be where we are with omicron. So I wish this came out sooner and I hope the Biden administration will also make these high-quality masks widely available, free of charge.

BLITZER: Yes, because they're not all that cheap right now. Let's me get your thoughts also, Dr. Wen, on the Biden administration now announcing that Americans will soon be able to order a rapid test online, have them shipped directly to their homes. Is that the best way, do you think, to distribute these tests?

WEN: I do. I think it's a really big step in the right direction, because, otherwise, their other plan was to have people go to a pharmacy, find tests, get them reimbursed through an insurance company, which we know is not easy. This plan is going to have four tests delivered for free to Americans who want them, but it's four tests per household, which is not nearly enough. And it's certainly not going to come in time for us to stop the omicron surge.

What I would like to hear from the Biden administration is a plan going forward, as in, can we anticipate the next surge and then say that we will give all Americans who want them, two tests every week, if they want to take them. Something like that would be the moon shot kind of goal that we really need so that we stop being reactive but we're actually being proactive.

BLITZER: And what is the latest science, Dr. Wen, tell us about the accuracy of these rapid tests specifically against the omicron variant, which is obviously so dominant right now?

WEN: These rapid tests are picking up omicron, but we have to be using them the right way. The rapid tests are not as sensitive as the -- and as reliable as the PCR tests, if somebody is newly symptomatic. But here is how we should be using them. They are effective right before you do something. So, if you're getting together with friends and family, somebody who is vulnerable, take it right before you see them to see if you're currently infectious right now.

If you have symptoms and your initial test is negative, these tests are meant to be serial. So, take another test the next day. If that is still negative and you still have symptoms, take a PCR test for confirmation.

Something else that the rapid test is particularly good for is to see if you're still infectious after an illness. After an illness, you do not want to take a PCR test because that PCR test is going to still be positive for a long time. So, take the rapid test in that circumstance too.

BLITZER: Yes, excellent advice, as usual, from Dr. Leana Wen. Thank you very, very much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:00]

According to the timings in the transcript, five minutes elapsed between the start of her segment and the start of the next segment, including a commercial break. According to the clock on the screen, her segment lasted about three minutes.

Dr. Wen has criticized the CDC for confusing messages. Do you have any idea when to take the different types of tests after this segment? We have the luxury of re-reading the transcript. Thirty seconds at the end of her segment is far too little time to explain what she meant.

On January 17, 2022, Dr. Tom Frieden said this about CDC's messaging on CNN, "It's easy to criticize, but hard to do better." Last week I wrote that talking heads who say a message is confusing should rewrite it to make it clearer.

Later on the same program, Dr. Paul Offit said that rather than fourth doses, we should be trying to get the unvaccinated vaccinated. You get more bang for the buck in terms of an increase in protection giving the dose to an unvaccinated person than giving it to a triple-vaxxed person.

Okay, Doc. That's easy to say. How about some ideas about what we can say or do to persuade the unvaccinated to get vaccinated?

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://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#new-hospital-admissions), 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 
 01/18/22   66,715,937   4,023,704   850,575   572,769   1,872   8,627   4,983,654   147,105   13,301   25,927   (1,787)   99 
 01/11/22   61,732,283   3,876,599   837,274   546,842   3,659   8,528   5,421,565   139,572   12,168   32,486   2,594   100 
 01/05/22   56,310,718   3,737,027   825,106   514,344   1,065   8,428   3,501,427   104,272   8,867   20,966   276   61 
 12/28/21   52,809,291   3,362,755   816,239   493,378   789   8,367   1,693,987   63,185   11,127   7,977   89   56 
 12/21   51,115,304   3,569,570   805,112   485,401   700   8,311   1,063,296   55,734   9,102   5,639   9   110 
 12/14   50,052,008   3,513,836   796,010   479,762   691   8,201   853,262   57,885   8,946   5,008   17   91 
 12/07   49,198,746   3,455,951   787,064   474,754   674   8,110   821,215   66,191   8,575   5,011   23   125 
 11/30   48,377,531   3,389,760   778,489   469,743   651   7,985   563,746   28,426   6,309   3,343   (50)   55 
 11/23   47,813,785   3,361,334   772,180   466,400   701   7,930   667,924   41,145   10,754   4,784   (24)   86 
 11/16   47,145,861   3,320,189   761,426   461,616   725   7,844   604,748   63,164   7,862   4,577   22   85 
 11/09   46,541,113   3,257,025   753,564   457,039   703   7,759   516,764   33,219   8,290   5,539   34   103 
 11/02   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 
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