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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Power outage shouldn't cause concern

18 December 2009

Dear Mark: When the power goes out in the casino, which has happened a few times when I have played, does this have any effect on the random number generator? How about when a casino employee opens the slot machine door? Gil L.

The casino all of a sudden going dark will not have an effect on the RNG or on its generation of results, since a machine stores this information in a special memory when a temporary halt occurs.

Also, the random number generator continues to work even when the slot attendant opens the machine, as is commonly done on coined machines to fill the hopper with more loot, or to check for an internal malfunction. Your real worries, Gil, is that a loss of power or an open door will not affect the casino's keeping "up to" 20¢ of every dollar you put in.

Dear Mark: I am confused by the comment in one of your recent columns regarding video poker machines hitting jackpots one after another. You stated; "Not as long odds, but as a pit boss I witnessed on a double-zero roulette table the number 25 coming up four consecutive times. No biggie, what's 2,085,136 to one?"

I thought that every pull of the slot machine or pick of a number in roulette was not affected by any previous pull or number - the odds are always the same, so why would the 25 coming up four times in a row on a roulette wheel be 2 million to one? This would suggest that once a number comes up on the wheel, do not bet on it to come up next, odds are against it. Yet, I am pretty sure in previous columns you said that the wheel is not impacted by history, each and every roll is the same. Can you clear this up for me? Dick D.

Right you are, Dick, that every yank of the handle or number called in roulette is an independent event and is not an upshot of any previous pull or number, and frequently I have mentioned that cozy if chilling fact here in this column. But my comments in that particular article were in response to a reader who had witnessed an atypical, WOW, event. Therefore, Dick, I simply did the math on what the chances were of a select occurrence happening, such as the likelihood of 25 coming up four times in a row. It was nothing more than a rear view mirror look at what the odds are of something happening consecutively.

Dear Mark: Here's my question. A group of us at a bachelor's party in Vegas dumped a thousand pennies into a blanket, shook 'em up, then spread the blanket and removed all the pennies that had fallen tails. Again and again . . . until there was one penny left. It had fallen heads twelve times in a row. Next, us meatheads all bet on how it would come down next time – ten bucks a pop for a pot of $300.00. How would you have bet on it? Gurth T.

Pennies on a blanket at a bachelor party, in Lost Wages no less? Huh. No fear and loathing in Vegas here.

As you well know, Gurth, the result of the thirteenth flip would not be influenced by anything that had gone before, so the likelihood that it would come down heads or tails is exactly 50/50. But you have also noticed that not everyone believes that in their heart of hearts and stubbornly cling to the thought that "a change is due." I would have bet with the minority – the half dozen who bet on heads. That way, if I won I'd have shared the pot with five or six. If I had bet with the majority and won, I'd have shared the pot with a couple dozen or so. And for me, Gurth, its always fun to win more.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "No one will ever play that damn thing — it doesn't even have a handle to pull." —Jay Sarno, Nevada casino entrepreneur, upon being shown a prototype of the first video poker machine. From "King of the Slots," the forthcoming biography of William "Si" Redd

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.