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HOME > > Ask the Slot Expert: Breaking up with my favorite video poker machine

Ask the Slot Expert: Breaking up with my favorite video poker machine

6 January 2021

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: Your column on annoying players who don't use the deal button mirrored my feelings completely. You forgot to mention that those same players always pick the loudest machine in the area. I always have a pair of earplugs in my pocket for when I encounter these individuals, they really help. Great column.

Answer: Thank you very much for the kind words about my column.

I had the same thought about Bet Maxers and loud machines. Why do they never play a machine that has the sound turned off?

Then I gave myself a dope slap after I realized that maybe some of them do pick silent machines but I don't know it because their machines are -- silent.

Suncoast used to have an incredibly loud slot machine next to its only bank of good video poker machines. I used to lower the volume on the machine before I played one of the video poker machines. When people played the machine, though, it was just as loud as ever.

One time nobody played the machine while I was playing. I went back to it to check the volume level. It was back at max. I figure that the machines resets to default levels at some point, so my lowering the volume was futile.

I wish all video poker machines let me configure the machine to the way I like to play. Let me control the volume level. Let me control the speed. Let me decide whether I want to see the paying hand on deal banner.

My pre-game ritual on my favorite machine includes setting the volume level to the middle setting. The volume isn't too loud at the maximum setting, but I want the volume level to be loud enough for me to hear but not so loud that it alerts the players near me when I hit a good hand. Even though I never let a machine count out the credits on a large win, the machine is quick enough that the awarding-credits tones change from the 10-15 credits notes to the larger win notes.

I'm going to have to break up with my favorite machine. I fell in love with it because there's no glare on the screen and it deals quickly when set to the maximum dealing speed. In addition, it is in an area that is usually relatively quiet and not too crowded.

Other players like the machine too. Many times I wasn't able to play it because there was another regular already playing it.

I'm going to have to break up with the machine. It's not me; it's her.

There's something flaky with the slot club subsystem in the machine. Everything is fine when I start playing, but the bezel around the card slot changes from green (hunky-dory) to flashing orange (at least I think it's orange, which means game play without card, according to the IGT documentation). I haven't touched my card.

The change in bezel color has happened to me on other machines. When it happens, I check that my session points score is correct and still increasing as I play. As long as the subsystem knows who I am and is still counting my points, I know that regardless of what is wrong right now, the subsystem will eventually report my point total to the slot club server.

The situation sometimes resolves itself. The bezel goes back to green. But sometimes things go pear shaped.

And that is what's been happening regularly on my steady. At some point while I'm playing, the bezel starts flashing. And instead of going back to green, the slot club banner at the bottom of the screen disappears and a minute or so later, the screen flashes a few times and then displays messages indicating that the slot club subsystem is rebooting.

After the subsystem recovers, it's not like the slot machine itself, which resumes right where it left off before rebooting. The subsystem tells me that my card is invalid and I should reinsert it.

The subsystem has rebooted each of the last two times I played the machine. The last time it even rebooted twice.

I don't think I've lost any points -- if I did, the number I lost was minimal -- but I don't want to take a chance. In addition, I can't play for a few minutes while I wait for the subsystem to reboot.

I have to end the relationship.

As I write this, polls have closed in Georgia and results are starting to come in. Polls show that a large number of people don't trust the polls and polls also show that a large number of people don't trust polls.

By the polls, I mean the vote counts reported by precincts, counties and states. Election commissions have counted, re-counted and audited their vote totals in the last presidential election and have certified their results. No evidence of widespread fraud has been presented in court.

John Bolton recently said that either there's no widespread fraud or the Trump campaign has the worst lawyers ever. I would like to point out that the two scenarios are not mutually exclusive.

By polls, I mean surveys that show what people are thinking. Part of the reason is that people think the polls are saying something they're not and the reason for that, I think, is that we're not teaching enough probability. I wonder if gamblers understand the results of polls better than non-gamblers.

I submit into evidence this transcript of a segment in the November 6, 2020 episode of Tooning Out the News, a predominantly animated lampoon of the news streaming on CBS All Access. The segment is a clip from ABC's election night coverage in which George Stephanopoulos talks to pollster Nate Silver.

GS: Let's bring in Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight. Nate, talk about the forecast you had coming into election night.

NS: So, coming in we had Joe Biden with an 89% chance of winning, Trump with 10%, 1% chance of a tie. [edit] So in 2016 we had Trump with a 30% chance of winning, roughly.... [edit] But look, you know, I don't control when the 30% happens, the 10% happens, so there--

At this point, an animated reporter walks into frame and puts an animated sash that says Mr Wrong 2020 on Mr. Silver.

Reporter: Congratulations to Nate Silver, the new Mr. Wrong 2020. As Mr. Wrong, you will write a think piece about why you were actually right before the news media gives you another chance in 2024.

The writers of this segment, and maybe many people in general, don't understand the probabilities that Silver gives with his predictions. In 2016, Silver gave Trump a 30% chance of winning. Need I point out that 30% is not 0%.

Gamblers understand that they can't know the outcome of a bet with certainty, but that they can know how likely different outcomes are. Furthermore, unlike elections, which are singular events, bets can be made over and over again and we can see the probabilities validated in the long run.

Silver isn't wrong when the underdog wins. To prove him wrong, we'd have to rerun the election many, many times to see whether the outcome he said had a 30% chance of happening actually happens only about a third of the time.

Here are the latest figures from https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases.

Totals Weekly Increases
Date Cases  Deaths Cases Deaths Cases Deaths Cases Deaths
 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 

It looks like the Christmas surge is just starting, soon to be followed by the New Year's Eve surge.

Hospitals are full. EMTs are told not to transport patients with a low probability of survival.

On the New Year's Eve coverage, many people said that they were glad that 2020 was finally over. None of our challenges went away as the ball dropped in Times Square. The only thing that changed was the calendar.

Happy New Year!

Meanwhile, Wuhan, China, thrives 1 year after pandemic began.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

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. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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