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So Whatís Normal on the Machines?

By Frank Scoblete

One of the great ways to tell that someone is completely, thoroughly, and hopelessly insane is to see if he or she doggedly does the same thing over and over the same way time and time again - even if it doesnít work, hasnít worked, and will never work.  Based on that definition many casino gamblers might be considered insane, since they continue to play their games of choice utilizing strategies that have cost them dearly in their playing careers and will continue to cost them dearly in the future.

Of course, labeling a casino gambler as insane is merely an effort to shock our readers into paying attention because, after all, even the best games utilizing the best strategies are still overwhelmingly favoring the house.

But now that we have your attention, letís take a look at some of the crazy things gamblers do that might merit the above label, if only facetiously, and what the should do to increase their chances of winning or, at the very least, increase their chances of losing less!

Slot machine players know that they are facing edges of from 2 percent to 17 percent. Sane players would like to keep the house edge at or as close to the 2 percent range as they possibly can. How can they do this? Know what to look for in a slot machine and know what to avoid!

Look for machines that are certified at 97 or 98 percent return. The casino will have a big sign that says every machine in this bank is programmed to return 97 or 98 percent. Play those. Be aware that some casinos might have signs that say, ďThe machines in this area return up to of 98 percent.Ē All the means is that a minimum of one machine has to be programmed at that high return level; the rest can be dogs.

If you canít find machines that are ďcertifiedĒ at 97 or 98 percent; the next best thing is to look for machines that are stand-alone models, that is, machines that arenít linked up with other machines for joint jackpots. Avoid machines that have multi-casino progressive jackpots in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Why? Because these machines, to generate that jackpot, and to pay for the licensing agreements between the casinos and the manufacturers, must keep about 15 percent of all the money played in them. That means for every $100 a player puts through the machine in the long run, the player can expect to lose $15. Thatís a big hit, especially if you donít hit it big on these machines.

Video poker is a great game to learn, especially when you can play machines where the house measures its edge in the tenths of a percent, instead of in whole percents. The classic Jacks-or-Better 9/6 machines have only an approximately one-half percent house edge. That means for every $100 you play through this machine in the long run, youíll lose a mere 50 cents. Thatís a far cry from the progressive jackpots. 

There are books that can help you learn which machines to play and which to avoid. My Break the One-Armed Bandits!, and Victory at Video Poker,  and also John Robisonís The Slot Expertís Guide to Playing Slots.

Of course, once you have selected your machine to play, how you play it is also a key factor in whether you will be able to go home some nights (or none nights) with some of the casinoís money jingle-jangling in your coin cup or pocket.

In video poker, the ďhowĒ of playing is simply to play the best possible strategy that you can handle for the game you have selected. Select the right games, play the right strategies for those games, should be the mantra for all video poker players. Video poker is a game of skill and chance, but in the long run your skill is the determining factor in your success.

Slot players have no control of the machineís decisions whatsoever. Slots are pure chance. Thus, how you manage your money at the slots is the only variable in playing strategy. Do you play one coin, two or three or more? Do you set a win goal or a loss limit?

            Savvy slot players know that in the long run the casinoís edge will win out, so the key to their playing strategy is to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that long run to make it as long as possible. They look for machines that have equal distribution, meaning that each extra coin merely increases the payout by that percentage (i.e., one coin = 100-coin payout; two coins = 200-coin payout; three coins = 300-coin payout). There is no added value or benefit to playing more than one coin in such machines. You are merely putting through two or three times as much money for the house edge to work against. Play one coin and you can stretch your ability to last at the machines of this nature.

Now that you can stretch your money, what do you do if you win some money? How do you know when itís time to quit? This isnít easy to answer. If you were to hit a nice jackpot on your very first spin but you had planned an evening in the casino, would you have gotten your full entertainment value by heading for the door? Probably not.

In cases where you hit it big early, the best money-management advice is to take part of your win and all of the money you brought with you to play and lock all of it away. You donít have to literally lock it away, but it should be put aside and not used for the rest of the night. Instead, play with the rest of the win and see if you can increase it. If you do, great. You get to go home a big winner. If you donít, youíve gotten your entertainment value and youíve managed to bring home some money to boot.

While no amount of money-management or machine-selection advice can turn a negative into a positive (the casino is going to have its edge), the tighter and tougher you play, the better will be your long term results. And thatís a sane way to approach the machines!

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author. His books and tapes have sold over a million copies. He is executive director of Golden Touch Craps dice-control seminars. His websites are www.scoblete.com and www.goldentouchcraps.com . For a free brochure or more information call: 1-800-944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.

 Articles by Frank Scoblete
Hitchcock, Blackjack and Suspense

In Baccarat Big Is Better
So What's Normal on the Machines?
Only a Slot Player? Think Again
These Myths are Mistakes
by Frank Scoblete
Frank's Bio and Books



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