A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. My wife pointed out something you wrote about the slots, that a reel could have nine 7s and one lemon, but that the programming could make the lemon come up 90 percent of the time.
It was about three-reel slots, but we were wondering, do video slots work the same way? Can they make it so that other symbols come up a lot more than bonus symbols and make it harder to get the bonuses?
A. There’s no need for programmers to work that way on video slots.
Video reels take up no physical space. They can be as long or short as the game designer needs to make the odds come out right. So the designer can place symbols on the reels in the desired proportions and let randomness take over from there.
On reel slots, the need to fit physical reels into the slot machine casing is a challenge. The solution is to program a virtual reel. A number set is defined, and different proportions of numbers from the set are assigned to each reel.
In the example you mention, I answered a reader’s question a couple of years ago about a reel with nine 7s and one lemon. If the programmer needed the lemon to come up 90 percent of the time, then 90 percent of the numbers would be assigned to the lemon and 10 percent divided among the 7s.
Results still would be random. The random number generator would generate numbers without regard to their application. But 90 percent of those numbers would be applied to the lemon.
On video slots, there’s no need for such a work-around. If the game designer needed lemons on each line 90 percent of the time, then 90 percent of the symbols could be lemons.
I’d be curious to see the resulting game. Maybe it could be called Lemons or Lemonade, with a bonus event at a lemonade stand. Animated customers could choose lemonade glasses for bonuses while making faces and throwing their drinks across the screen when too sour.
Q. I just started playing craps little while ago at the urging of one of my work friends. I’ve gotten the basics. I can play pass and come and I’m getting the odds. I place 6 and 8 and know to stay away from the others.
I guess I goofed last time I played. I bet on pass and the shooter rolled a 7. I was expecting to get paid, but they took my money. I asked why and they told me it wasn’t a comeout. I thought you could only bet pass on the comeout and they should have told me no bet.
A. You can bet on the pass line at any time. If it’s not made on a comeout roll, it becomes a put bet.
With a put bet, your money is on whatever point the shooter has already established. You don’t get the comeout with its eight ways to win and only four ways to lose, and that’s to your disadvantage. You do have the opportunity to back a put bet with free odds.
It is up to players to note whether the next roll is a comeout before they make their bets. If it is a comeout, a disc at a corner of the table will be turned to the side that says “off.” If it is not, then the disc will be turned to the “on” side and placed in the box for the point number.
Dealers will not warn you or refuse your bet if you bet on pass after the comeout. It’s your responsibility.