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Ask the Slot Expert: Where have all the deuces gone?

24 November 2021

Robin, the Boy Wonder, picked up the parchment he found on the casino floor.

"Holy video poker, Batman. The Riddler left another one of his diabolical riddles."

"Read it, Robin," said the Caped Crusader.

"When is playing NSU Deuces like playing 9/6 Jacks or Better?" said Robin. "This is a tough one, Batman."

"I think I know the answer, old chum. Playing NSU is like playing 9/6 Jacks or Better when you don't get your share of sets of deuces."

Last year I went a little over three months between hitting sets of deuces. The fact that the casinos were closed most of that time had a lot to do with that gap. I never thought I'd leave that record in the dust with the casinos open and my playing regularly again, but not nearly as much as I did pre-pandemic (and pre-slot club downgrades!)

Jean Scott once told me that one of the reasons she likes NSU Deuces Wild over 9/6 Jacks is that hitting a set of deuces can help you recover from a couple of bad sessions or even one terrible session. Jacks or Better doesn't have a comparable hand. The next best thing to a royal in 9/6 Jacks is a straight flush, but it pays only a quarter of what four deuces pay and it hits about half as frequently. She said that sometimes your only hope of getting out of a hole is to hit a royal.

Three-of-a-kind, the lowest-paying hand in NSU, doesn't hit as frequently as a high pair, the lowest-paying hand, in Jacks or Better. You need to hit your share of Wild Royals and five-of-kinds to make up for the less frequent pushes. Many times a flurry of premium hands (Wild Royals, five-of-a-kinds and straight flushes) near the end of my session has turned that session from loser to nearly breakeven.

Over the past few months, not only have I not been getting my share of deuces, I also haven't been getting my share of premium hands. It seems like I used to have a pretty good chance of breaking even for a session. Small win, small loss, sometimes sizable win or sizable loss. But it wasn't loss, loss, loss, loss...loss the way it's been the past few months.

Let's take a look at my diary.

February 24, 2020. A double header. A royal and a set of deuces.

July 14. 2021. I get a set of deuces. It's been 90,000 hands since my last royal. I should have hit two royals in that number of hands, on the average, but at least I've had 17 sets of deuces, which is about the number expected.

August 12. About 5500 hands played since last set. That's about 5400 hands between sets, on the average, but it's not unusual to go one cycle without getting a set.

August 27. Over 10,000 hands since last set. Two cycles, no deuces, not unusual.

October 10. Over 15,000 hands since last set. The probability of an event not happening in three cycles is 0.05.

October 20. Over 20,000 hands without a set of deuces. The probability of an event not happening in four cycles is 0.018.

November 7. Almost 25,000 hands since my last deuces. The probability of an event not happening in five cycles is 0.007. But I did win a consolation prize. I was dealt a 4-card royal in hearts. I was hoping for a deuce to score a nice dirty royal. I didn't really want to get my first W-2G of the year. I hit draw and got the king I needed to complete the royal. Okay, I'll take it. Especially since it's been 19 months and over 100,000 hands since my last royal.

November 14. Over 31,000 hands since four twos have graced my screen at one time. This is getting ridiculous. I sometimes check that I see deuces in all four suits while playing. It's hard to believe that I've sometimes hit three sets of deuces in a session of 2000 hands. The probability of an event not happening in six cycles is 0.003.

November 21. Finally, after four months and about 35,000 hands, I was dealt three deuces and the fourth was not hiding in some other machine when I hit Deal. The probability of an event not happening in seven cycles is 0.0009. Have to remember that extremely unlikely is not the same thing as impossible.

Based on the 1.1 million hands I've played and the average hit frequency of royals and deuces, I estimate that NSU owes me eight royals and eight sets of deuces. I wish I could expect that the game will make up for that shortfall in the next million hands, but that's not what is most likely to happen.

The most likely thing to happen is the most likely thing to happen. The most likely thing to happen over the next million hands is that I'll hit royals about once every 43,478 hands and deuces once every 5347 hands, on the average.

Right now, I figure that I've gotten a royal once every 63,000 hands and deuces once every 5500 hands. What will my stats be if I just hit these hands with the expected frequency in the next million hands?

My average number of hands between royals drops to about 52,000. It's still above the expected average number of hands between hits, but it's much closer.

My average number of hands between deuces drops to about 5400. That's very close to the expected number.

If the hands continue to hit with the expected frequency for another million hands, the hands between hits stats would get even closer to the expected number. The machines don't have to do anything to make up for my shortfall so far. All they have to do is do what they're likely to do.

One of the Gambler's Fallacies is that an event is more likely to occur in the future because it hasn't occurred as frequently as it should have in the past. How else is a machine going to "make its numbers?"

How many times have you thought, "This machine hasn't been paying. It's got to start paying soon. It's due." Or, "I haven't had a bonus in a long time. It must hit soon."

How many players have lost more than they should have because they thought that a big hit must be coming soon?

The opposite situation is not a problem, though.

No one ever got into trouble leaving a machine that they think will turn cold.


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 
 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 
 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