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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: It doesn't hurt to ask

11 December 2015

Dear Mark: The question I have is with regard to your statement, “Here's the kicker: They are going to comp you anyway for a feeding frenzy so that after you chow down, you will hook right back up to another machine allowing them a shot at getting some of their money back.” Do you mean that if you are NOT getting a food comp with your hand pay, you are getting 'shortchanged,' so to speak? I don't think anyone has offered me a free comp on a hand-pay at ANY casino I've been "lucky" at. Maybe they thought that I could buy my own with that 1K+ they just “gave” me. Should I be asking for more? I guess today's payout people are not as generous as you used to be. Jean H.

My response to Wayne, Jean, was geared more towards a sizable jackpot; one where a player’s card isn’t used – or in his case, not a valid one – and they would want to keep him in-house, along with developing patron allegiance for future visits.

Nevertheless, even at lower-level play, when a slot attendant is counting out those crispy $100 bills, it never hurts to ask. Words along the lines of, “I’m getting a little hungry,” could well get the slot attendant to call a slot host for a voucher to the coffee shop.

This is why I continually harp on the use of your favorite casino’s player’s card, which, by the way, didn’t even exist in my first 15 years in the gambling business.

I began when the only machines that existed were those old patriarchal mechanical machines that had just three reels, with 20 symbols on each reel. Mathematically, that worked out to 20 x 20 x 20 possible combinations, equaling an 8,000-to-1 chance of hitting a jackpot. A slot player could play all day, and they still weren’t offered any goodies back then. With the advent of computerized, super-sized jackpot machines that accept a loyalty rewards card, even the penny player can get comped.

Your typical hand-pay today does get you something, though, Jean. With a payout of $1,200 or more on any slot/video poker machine, you will – joy, oh joy – automatically be handed a tax form (W-2G).

Dear Mark: Often in your column you toss around the initials RNG. Could you please explain how the RNG makes a slot machine loose or tight? Darnell T. From your hometown, Motown

The RNG (random number generator), Darnell, is nothing more than a generator of a random number stream. The RNG has nothing to do with the looseness or tightness of a machine or its long-term payback. The sole purpose of the RNG is to make sure that every number has the same chance of being generated. For the control of long-term payback, some numbers would have to have a more likely chance of appearing, something that the RNG cannot do.

A slot machine's long-term payback (tight/loose) is strictly determined by its reel layout and paytable.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “A true gambler played because he loved the thrill he had on the turn of a card, because it tested his ability to out-wit and out-guess the other person.” – Poker Alice, Poker Alice (1951)
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
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.