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Ask the Slot Expert: Switching speed, games and machines

29 June 2022

Question: In over 30 years of video poker play, I do not remember ever seeing any discussion, etc. regarding pros or cons of switching between speed settings on the same machine during a period of play. Have you?

Same question regarding switching from one game to another on the same machine.

Same question regarding switching from one machine to another on the same group of machines.

P.S. I am the one who had a Royal in each of six consecutive sessions that you discussed in your column.

Answer: I remember you. I'm still jealous of your six-peat.

I've mentioned speed settings on video poker (and short-circuiting spins on slots) in past columns. If you have a short bankroll or are running out of money, you can stretch your bankroll by slowing down your pace. Let each hand take as long as possible. Take some time between hands.

Yeah, right. That last piece of advice -- wait between hands -- is impossible. I've tried to stretch a short bankroll by waiting for several seconds between spins. In less than two minutes I was back to hitting Spin or Deal right after the last hand ended.

When I first started playing NSU, I would set the speed to minimum. It was calming having the cards displayed slowly one by one and I could think about how to play the hand. At some point, I decided that I had a small advantage on multiple points days and the faster I played, the more I could earn. I've played max speed since then.

Red Rock used to have a multi-hand machine that had four speed settings. Like the Spinal Tap amp that goes up to 11, speed setting 4 was 1 better than 3. Setting 4 was tournament speed. On setting 4, the results of all hands were revealed at once with a bonk noise. I could play a lot of hands in a short period of time on that machine.

The speed setting you choose has no effect on your long-term results.

Switching games, on the other hand, will affect your long-term results. You should play the highest-paying paytable that you know how to play on a machine.

Or you can play whatever paytable and gimmick you like. Recreational players don't play enough hands for long-term payback to have a greater effect on their results than luck.

What about switching games because you're having a run of bad luck? Pros don't do that because they know cold streaks happen and they don't last forever. Recreational players can do whatever they want. If they have better results on the new game, the reason is that they're hitting Deal/Draw when the state of the RNG was favorable to them.

Finally, switching machines. The same answer as switching games. If you have better luck on the new machine, it's because you're hitting Deal/Draw when the RNG has selected cards that are better for you.

Many years ago, I was playing with Jean Scott and Brad and another couple. The husband in the other couple was having horrendous luck. He moved to another machine.

His wife was next to me. She asked me what I thought about switching machines. I said, "What does it prove?"

Your long-term results are the same on every machine when you play the same paytable. Feel free to switch machines if you want. It does no harm.

I dealt with the issue of switching settings on a machine in my final session on my run to requalify for elite status before the end of the month. I needed about 30,000 in action. I had decided to play Illinois Deuces at $15 per hand on a multi-hand machine. Should I play three hands at dollars or 60 hands at nickels? I went for 60 nickel hands to try to minimize my losses with the lower variance.

I started with $500. I hit a number of good hands right off the bat and continued hitting enough hands to keep my credit meter in high three figures. I thought that as long as I was hitting hands, I might as well Max Bet and play 100 hands. I continued hitting good hands and my credit meter went well over $1000. I thought about switching to dimes, but I didn't want to do anything to break the spell I had cast over the machine. Eventually reason won out and I upped the denomination.

At some point I implemented an asymmetrical plateau system to determine how much I was going to bet per hand. Below $500, 60 hands at nickels. Switch to 100 hands at nickels over $500. If credit meter goes over $1200, switch to 100 hands at dimes. On the way down, switch to 100 nickel hands when the credit meter falls below $1000 and 60 nickel hands below $500.

The plateau amount is asymmetrical at the denomination switch because I didn't want to go through the hassle of increasing the denomination unless I had enough credits to fund a few hands. I could be more cavalier with the switch from 60 nickel hands to 100 nickel hands because the difference between $15 and $25 per hand is smaller than the difference between $25 and $50 per hand.

At some point my meter was over $2000. I thought, Isn't $1500 worth more than another six months of elite status? Yeah, it probably is.

Nevertheless, he persisted.

I hit two natural royals during this session. I was dealt many pat hands and a number of good starting hands. The best-paying hand I hit was a dealt dirty royal at 100 nickel hands.

When my credit meter was over $2000, I thought that that was a nice cushion. It is if you're betting $5 per hand. Not so much at $50 per hand.

I crossed plateaus many times, switching number of hands or denomination at each crossing. I doublechecked the number of status points I needed to earn using the slot club's app and it was about 33,000 points, not 30,000. ($1 in action equals 1 status point). I was going to have to play a little bit more than I had planned. I really should have started knowing exactly how many points I needed.

I started getting nervous around 32,000 points. I had fallen below $500, so I was betting 60 hands. Fortunately I hit some good hands and went over $500 and switched to 100 hands. I hit a few more good hands and quit with $800 and a bit over 33,000 status points. My first profitable session.

I went to the kiosk to see the message that I had qualified for elite for another six months. I was still a few hundred points short. Remember how I said that I really should have known exactly how many points I needed?

I was going to run a few bucks through an Invaders Attack from the Planet Moolah machine, but they were all in use. Surprisingly, there were many open positions at the NSU machines. Very unusual for noon on a multiple points day. I thought, Let me play some hands where I have the advantage now.

I lost much of what I had won playing the lower-paying deuces paytable, but I had requalified.

One of the great things about playing 100 hands is that you can get a glimpse into the long run. It can be tough to convince people that they should break up a paying combination when a different combination has a higher EV on NSU (e.g., a one deuce hand that is a straight or a 4-card straight flush). I had that choice a couple of times and it was easy to see that I did better holding the partial straight flush than the sure thing.

I want to know your feelings about multi-hand video poker. Love it? Hate it? Can't win on it? Always win on it? Let me know.


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 total 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 
 06/28/22   86,978,283   4,860,754   1,011,510   768,271   402   11,026   809,381   33,856   2,580   6,189   (8)   36 
 06/21/22   86,168,902   4,826,898   1,008,930   762,082   410   10,990   648,857   30,459   2,040   8,081   95   41 
 06/14/22   85,520,045   4,796,439   1,006,890   754,001   315   10,949   757,093   29,971   2,630   9,809   42   40 
 06/07/22   84,762,952   4,766,468   1,004,260   744,192   273   10,909   813,916   30,146   2,190   6,818   55   26 
 05/31/22   83,949,036   4,736,322   1,002,070   737,374   218   10,883   670,041   24,555   2,285   5,738   16   41 
 05/24/22   83,278,995   4,711,767   999,785   731,636   202   10,842   756,047   25,027   2,317   5,324   37   28 
 05/17/22   82,522,948   4,686,740   997,488   726,312   165   10,814   680,888   21,183   2,097   3,693   35   26 
 05/10/22   81,842,060   4,665,557   995,371   722,619   130   10,788   534,465   17,934   3,932   2,802   32   11 
 05/03/22   81,307,595   4,647,623   991,439   719,817   98   10,777   432,666   14,755   2,448   2,213   (6)   49 
 04/26/22   80,874,929   4,632,868   988,991   717,604   104   10,728   348,507   12,597   2,446   1,447   (22)   46 
 04/19/22   80,526,422   4,620,271   986,545   716,157   126   10,682   266,330   10,525   3,308   1,232   (37)   497 
 04/12/22   80,260,092   4,609,746   983,237   714,925   163   10,185   228,465   10,343   3,627   1,228   23   53 
 04/05/22   80,031,627   4,599,403   979,610   713,697   140   10,132   203,709   10,312   4,105   1,059   (52)   76 
 03/29/22   79,827,918   4,589,091   975,505   712,638   192   10,056   206,914   9,572   4,083   1,187   5   40 
 03/22/22   79,621,004   4,579,519   971,422   711,451   187   10,016   200,627   8,502   8,178   742   (71)   83 
 03/15/22   79,418,377   4,571,017   963,244   710,709   258   9,933   253,069   17,393   5,492   24,844   (20)   113 
 03/08/22   79,165,308   4,553,624   957,752   685,865   278   9,820   310,308   24,471   9,870   2,099   (101)   116 
 03/01/22   78,855,000   4,529,153   947,882   683,766   379   9,704   465,845   33,261   14,988   6,421   (189)   196 
 02/22/22   78,389,155   4,495,892   932,894   677,345   568   9,508   551,462   46,726   12,797   4,023   (297)   173 
 02/15/22   77,837,693   4,449,166   920,097   673,322   865   9,335   1,005,691   67,963   17,059   5,280   (375)   149 
 02/08/22   76,782,002   4,381,203   903,038   668,042   1,240   9,186   1,769,556   92,750   18,185   11,144   (387)   235 
 02/01/22   75,012,446   4,288,453   884,853   656,898   1,627   8,951   3,193,570   121,420   17,885   26,555   (344)   191 
 01/25/22   71,818,876   4,167,033   866,968   630,343   1,971   8,760   5,102,999   143,329   16,393   57,574   99   133 
 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 
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