A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. On a three-reel, one payline slot machine, there are two wires that stretch above the reels resting on top a metal lip extending from one end of the slot to the other. The lip appears to have holes on each end and in the center to secure the wires with rip ties.
I have seen where the wiring was only secured at each end but not in the center. This causes the wiring to slip off the lip and hang across the reels and may also end up resting on the reel causing it to drag against the reels when in motion resulting in scratching the reels.
Can the pressure and drag of the wiring on the reels compromise the outcome of a bet?
A. This question was relayed to me by Steve Bourie, author of the annual American Casino Guide (AmericanCasinoGuide.com).
Steve told the questioner that results are determined by a random number generator, which tells the reels where to stop, and that no pressure or drag on the spinning reels has any influence on the outcome.
The questioner doubted the answer, so Steve turned to me for input.
I told him his answer was correct. The mechanical elements of slot machines have had nothing to do with spin results for decades. Three-reel slots couple random number generators with virtual reels, which were devised by Inge Telnaes in 1984.
When the RNG generates a number, the corresponding symbol on the virtual reel is told to stop on the payline.
If pressure or drag were sufficient to stop the reel from completing the spin with the selected symbol on the payline, then the result would be as selected by the RNG, not as displayed on the game.
If you had bars on the first two reels and the RNG/virtual reel result was for another bar on the third reel, then you would get the bar-bar-bar payout even if drag or any other mechanical flaw caused the reel to stop with a different symbol or space on the line.
On the other hand you would not be paid if you had jackpot symbols on the first two, the randomly generated result was for a space on the third reel, but a mechanical flaw caused a third jackpot symbol to line up.
The official result is the RNG result, and if a slot exec checked the RNG record and found you were not due a jackpot, then the jackpot would not be paid.
The reels and symbols are really just a user-friendly interface, a display for players while the real game is played out of sight on the RNG.
Q. I saw a blackjack player grab chips seemingly at random, mixing them up, and putting him on his betting spot. I doubt even he knew how much he was betting.
Every time, the dealer would arrange the chips in order, and every time he'd bet a jumble on the next hand. Even if he won and was going to bet the same chips, he went to the trouble of mixing them up.
Why would he do something like that?
A. There's no telling why players do some things. Maybe that felt lucky to him. Maybe he liked being difficult. In any event, the casino apparently valued his business enough not to warn him, or tell him to come back when he learns to stack chips.
In such cases, the dealer will re-stack the chips in order from the highest denomination on the bottom to the lowest denomination on top. That makes it easier for the dealer to make payoffs and for surveillance to track bets.