Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Mark Pilarski Archives
More Strategy Experts

Gaming Guru

author's picture

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

27 March 2015

By Mark Pilarski
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 stimulate me to ask. You mentioned that a slot machine might be programmed to return 88% of the wagered money back in wins. My question: Is there a selected timeframe (daily, monthly, life of the machine) or a specific amount (every 100, 10,000, pulls) for this 88% 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% 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% 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% 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% 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%. Because I did a Q&A on this game in 2014, allow me, David, to direct you to my web site, 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

Deal Me In: Your chances of busting are not as great as you think

20 March 2015
Dear Mark: Your reference to splitting 10s in the last round of a tournament reminds me of my favorite casino story: Dice isn’t my game (I have only one game—21) but once I stopped by a dice table to witness the last roll in a tournament. One player, who was in the middle of the pack and not likely to win anything, put all his money on the boxcars prop bet. ... (read more)

Deal Me In: Gimmick bets are part of the game

13 March 2015
Dear Mark: With “Fortune” Pai Gow Poker, how bad are the odds on the bonus fortune bet? Ray C. Pai Gow Poker is a hybrid of Chinese dominos, “Pai Gow” and American seven-card poker. Played with a standard 52-card deck plus a joker, it differs from the typical seven-card game in that you play against a banker, not against other players at the table. ... (read more)

Deal Me In: Possible, but improbable of hitting the big kahuna

6 March 2015
Dear Mark: I just returned from Las Vegas and noticed every casino offers banks of slot machines that offer those huge progressive jackpots. Do those machines ever pay the progressive jackpot or is that the casino's way of getting people to pump in more of their money? Gary C. The allure of progressive ... (read more)

Next 10 Articles >

  • Featured Articles

Deal Me In: Times to split 10s at blackjack are extremely rare

Dear Mark: I am aware that you never – ever – ever split 10s against a dealer’s 5 or 6. However, I have been tempted to do so when no one else is at the Blackjack table. My question is what is the percentage odds of winning (or losing) by doing so? Herb C.Surprisingly, Herb, there was a gaming writer, John ... (read more)

Deal Me In: Player questions if he is a freak of nature

Dear Mark: I am a freak of nature. Of the 50 times that I have played slots, maybe twice I left with $20 to $40. All the other times I have lost big. One time, I went with a lucky elderly teacher friend of mine and she won $300. I lost $50. So, she gave me another 20, and again I lost. She then gave me yet another 20, and again I lost. ... (read more)

Deal Me In: Decent game, for those running the casino

Dear Mark: I happened to come across a game called 3-5-7 Poker. Could you please share some information regarding this game, and, if it is a reasonable game for the player who follows your rule of “only make casino bets that have less than a 2% house edge.” Jeff J.The game 3-5-7 Poker is a simple poker-based hybrid found both in table and video poker form in many casinos today. ... (read more)

Deal Me In: Does the Golden Arm exist?

Dear Mark: I have read about people who are selling info about how to set dice. Is there anything to someone's ability to set dice and to throw them a certain way to improve their ability to throw desired numbers? On the other hand, are you convinced no matter how you "set" the dice that you will have a ... (read more)

Deal Me In: Scores of one-button bandits seldom pay out super-sized jackpots

Dear Mark: A slot employee told me that some of the bigger jackpot machines, where he works, have not been hit in years. Does this surprise you? Alice L.Not in the least bit, Alice. The odds of hitting some of these super-sized jackpots can be higher than hitting the Mega Millions (258,890,850 to one) lottery. ... (read more)
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.