Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

# Ask the Slot Expert: Do your choices in bonus rounds matter?

7 August 2013

When you get into a bonus round on a slot machine that requires you to make choices, e.g., three treasure chests out of eight, or pick until you lose, spin a wheel, anything like that, do your choices really make a difference, or has the RNG already determined how much you will win?

Thanks,
Larry

Dear Larry,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

Let me start with your last question first. Has the RNG determined how much you will win? On a Class III slot machine (the kind in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica, etc.), the RNG has not determined what you will win. The RNG is used to determine what values are under each choice. What you pick determines how much you win.

Your first question was whether your choices really make a difference. Even though your choices determine how much you win, your choices don't matter. You have no information available to tell you what value is under each choice, so the long-term average of the amount you win in the bonus round is the same whether you always choose the same items, always choose right to left or left to right, always choose randomly, or use a different method on each bonus round. Because the average is the same, your choices don't really matter.

The fact that your choices can determine your fate and still not matter can be a difficult concept to wrap one's head around. By way of an analogy, let's say we have three sets of fair dice, one pair red, one blue and one white. You call one of the colors and then throw all of the dice. Because each pair is completely fair, when we track the number of times each total appears on each pair, in the long run each pair will generate the pyramid of craps. The color you choose determines your results for that throw, but in the long run it doesn't matter which color you choose because the probabilities are the same for each pair of dice.

On Class II machines, the kind you find in Indian casinos without state compacts and machines run by state lotteries, the result of your play has already been determined by a central server. What you choose makes no difference. The central server has already determined how much you will win.

Jackpots for all,
John

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