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# Deal Me In: Only Nostradamus can predict when a machine is due to hit

27 March 2015

Dear Mark: I always look forward to reading your answers and thoughts on the casino world. I do have one question that I have always wanted to ask and your recent answer to the fellow complaining that he always loses at the slots has stimulated me to ask. You mentioned that a slot machine might be programmed to return 88 percent of the wagered money back in wins. My question: Is there a selected time frame (daily, monthly, life of the machine) or a specific amount (every 100, 10,000, pulls) for this 88 percent return to happen? Richard B.

Because a random number generator selects all of the symbols arbitrarily, nobody, and that includes the casino owners, knows the whereabouts of where the machine is in its payout cycle. What the programming does tell the house is that after millions and millions of decisions, X amount of money will be won by the casino and lost by the players.

Using your 88 percent return as an example, all the slot manager does is order a quarter machine with that hold percentage from the manufacturer, and over a “period of time,” that quarter machine is going to pay back to the gamblers 12 percent of the total amount wagered.

As to your question, Richard, what is that period of time, figure approximately 10 million yanks of the handle, which is typically the number the slot maker has determined it would take for that particular machine to achieve that overall 12 percent hold calculation.

Prior to those 10 million spins, the machine will go through incalculable hot and cold cycles, but as the slot closes in on that 10,000,000 yank mark, it’s going to hold pretty darn close to that 12 percent payout mark.

Dear Mark: What is the house edge on the game Free Bet Blackjack? I know it is helped by the push of a 22, but the free bet option is nice. David G.

Using a more simplified basic strategy than regular blackjack, the house edge on Free Bet Blackjack is approximately 1 percent. Because I did a Q&A on this game in 2014, allow me, David, to direct you to my website, http://markpilarski.com, and have you search “Is Free Bet Blackjack Really a Freebie” for a complete analysis on this variant of blackjack.

Dear Mark: I was playing blackjack where someone was continuously splitting face cards. Most everyone was giving her a lot of crap. Finally, the dealer confirmed face cards “should never be split.” An elderly lady about 80 corrected the dealer. She said, "Honey, the only time you split face cards is when the table is full and your friend needs a seat.” Charlie L.

The sage advice, Charlie, from that senior citizen playing on the game, needs no superfluous follow-up.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “He places the bet, juices flow, he really feels alive: action. When the bet is on, his existence is confirmed.” – Henry Lesieur, The Chase
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Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.