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Deal Me In: I'm talkin' Quick Draw McGraw fast!

21 February 2014

By Mark Pilarski
Dear Mark: I attend free slot tournaments when invited and wondered if there are any tips you can give to do well besides hitting the button quickly. Wayne S.

The gist of any slot tournament, Wayne, works like this: Players either congregate in a specific room of the casino, or at the site on the casino floor holding the tournament. Players are then assigned to a specific slot machine, given a set amount of time to play, and the person with the highest number of credits (points) won at the end is the winner.

The tournament format that you were probably playing in is one that uses timed sessions with machines in free-play mode, meaning, you don't have to put any money in the machine to play. The up-front entry fee, in your case, FREE, is your total cash outlay. Now if the tournament includes a FREE Chuck wagon buffet, you just broke the bank.

A typical format when playing free-play tournaments is to give each player 1,000 credits, and 20 minutes to play them, per round. Each time the player taps the spin button, three credits are deducted from their starting credits, and credits that they win are shown on a separate meter. When time has expired, the machine locks up to end play.

As a slot tourney player, you have probably noticed more paying combinations when playing in tournaments than you get with normal play. That is because most casinos have a distinct slot tournament chip that is used in the machine, one that increases the frequency of winning combinations.

So, Wayne, as your question implies, the real, and only trick here is to get your fingers moving at lighting speed, because the more those reels are spinning, the more you give yourself a chance to accumulate points. The faster you get at tapping the max coins button when the reels stop spinning, the better your chances are of winning a slot tournament.

Likewise, it is important to note that the machine will not spin until the winning credits have been tallied and displayed on the screen. Therefore, timing, Wayne, is everything. You need to be prepared to initiate the spin button INSTANTLY after your credits have been computed.

Also, because any credits that you have not played when the time is up will be lost, you lessen your chances of winning because the players who are super-duper fast at hitting the spin button, will have more spins than you, hence, more likely with a tourney chip to have more points.

The bottom line, Wayne, is that in a slot tournament there is but one simple strategy: Get in as many spins as you can. Just keep your fingers on the spin button and get skilled at pushing it with split-second military precision.

Oh, and one other tip, Wayne. Concentrate on your play, and your play only. Don’t gawk at the scores of the other players. A few precious seconds here or there can sometimes be the deciding factor on whether or not you advance to the next round.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: I'm confident that sooner or later, most race tracks will have a special section reserved for degenerates.” – John Gillehon, A Gambler's Bedside Reader (1998)
 

Deal Me In: Surreptitious jackpot shrouded in mystery

14 February 2014
Dear Mark: I subscribe to the local paper and look forward to your column each week. I have learned a lot from it and was hoping to learn a little more, maybe. A friend and I went on an all-nighter junket to the Reno Hilton about 15 years ago and what happened to my friend has stuck in our craw for all this time. ... (read more)
 

Deal Me In: Using Final Jeopardy tactics at blackjack

7 February 2014
Dear Mark: A few weeks ago I got into the final round of a blackjack tournament. When we got to the final hand, the three remaining players with chips, me being one of them, had nearly an equal amount of chips remaining. It felt like we were on the game show Jeopardy, and it was the final question. Both player A and B bet all their chips, so I decided to go along and bet all of my chips. ... (read more)
 

Deal Me In: Talk about a snowball's chance in hell

31 January 2014
Dear Mark: I am sure you saw the news. Quicken Loans are offering to pay anyone filling out a perfect bracket for March Madness a billion dollars. Do you think anybody will ever fill out a perfect bracket? Jimmy K. Nada chance, Jimmy! Zippo, zero, zilch! The $1 billion prize is safe; and believe me, Quicken Loans knows the math of such a feat. ... (read more)

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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.