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Deal Me In: The RNG neither frowns nor smiles4 September 2009
Dear Mark: Please explain the frequency of wins on a slot machine. For instance, sometimes the machine will give away money, spin after spin, and then it comes to a complete halt. I could hit that spin button 20 times in a row, and not a winner will appear. Can the random number generator be set to stop hits after so many wins, so that I end up giving it all back in the end? Billy H.
A random number generator, Billy, has no brain, no preferences, and but one function: generating random numbers. It doesn't give the minimal shadow of a hoot what those numbers are used for; so by design it can't generate a predestined sequence of wins or losses.
Wins that occur spin after spin, then the well running dry, and consequently your giving it all back, have to do with normal randomness, your short gaming timeline, and the fact that you are playing on a negative-expectation game.
You can't alter chance, Billy, but you can learn to play Froggy and leap when losing.
Dear Mark: I am curious as to which is your favorite buffet in Las Vegas. I'm going with a group from work, and as a whole, we decided that price was not an object, just quality. Your recommendation would be appreciated. By the way, we love your column at work so much that it gets posted each week in the break room. Jason S.
Thanks for the nice words about my column. The last time my name was posted in a break room was getting caught skiing after I had already called in sick, so my chastisement was dealing 50¢ blackjack, indefinitely, or at least until the next screw-up screwed up.
One thing that's guaranteed about Lost Wages, oops, I meant Las Vegas, is that you really can't come home from your visit with nothing. Your homecoming comes guaranteed with some extra pounds, especially if you partake of a feeding frenzy at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet. And since you threw in that money's no object, my personal recommendation for thriving gluttony -- where you can expand two belt sizes in one sitting -- is at Wynn Las Vegas.
Yep, the prices are steep, $22.95 for lunch, $34.95 for dinner, but one thing Steve Wynn has always done right, going all the way back to the Golden Nugget, are buffets. The food quality and service at Wynn Las Vegas have limited peers.
If you think it's a little on the expensive side, Jason, sell your coworkers on the fact that it's less than five minutes on a dollar slot machine or two hands of blackjack.
Dear Mark: I recently saw a man keeping a log of all the numbers that were coming up on a video keno machine. This person claimed that certain numbers, especially certain odd ones, were appearing more often than others. He said he's been tracking numbers for eight hours straight and was starting to see distinct patterns. His proof was that he was up $250 playing specific numbers. Any merits to his system? David D.
Even with a seat time of eight hours, and assuming he is ahead by tracking numbers, I still would chalk it up to nothing more than a lucky streak, David.
On a properly functioning video keno machine, no specific numbers or combination of numbers are any more likely to appear than any other number or combination of numbers. Possibly, your chartist had stumbled on a machine that had had too many margaritas spilled on it, with unplanned results.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "In gambling, and only in gambling, nothing depends on anything." --Bersabe & Arias, Superstition in Gambling
Best of Mark Pilarski