John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I recently was playing the IGT Hot Hit game. It’s a five-reel game with progressive jackpots for seven or more Hot Hit symbols.

On one spin, the first two reels stopped on three symbols each. I pressed the button to stop the reels and ended up with 12 Hot Hit symbols for a jackpot of almost $1,100.

Did I change the outcome by pressing stop reels, or was the random number generator going to produce that result anyway?

A. Hitting the button to stop the reels has no impact on the outcome of the game. The RNG has already done its job before you have the opportunity to stop the reels, and you’ll see the same outcome regardless of whether you stop the reels or let ’em spin.

We have seen skill-based slots in which players stopping the reels is an important part of the game. I know of none in distribution today. Skill-based play has gone in different directions.

But about a decade ago, IGT entered the skill-based arena with a vampire-themed game called Blood Life. I tested it and wrote about it at the time. It was a three-reel game that called on players to touch each reel to stop it in an attempt to form a winning combination.

One symbol was a bright green 7, easily distinguishable from the blur of other symbols speeding past the eye. I tried targeting the green 7s and managed to stop all in the window, but not on the same payline. A more practiced player with younger reflexes might have managed it, but there was a high degree of difficulty.

That’s a blast from the past, and skill-based games remain a small minority anyway.

On the slots actually available in casinos, stopping the reels early makes no difference in your outcome. What stopping early does accomplish is to speed up the game and create more spins per hour. A faster game mainly helps the house make more money.

Q. Like a lot of people, I’m new to sports betting. I’ve been in work pools and all that, but I’ve never bet on point spreads. Now that it’s legal, I’ve made a few bets.

I have a question about how point spreads work. If I bet on a team and it’s listed at +7, I get seven points. What if I look at the sports book later and the same team is listed at +6.5? Do I get the seven from when I bet, or the six and a half points that it ends up on? What makes the line change, anyway?

A. You get points as they were listed at the time you make the bet. Those who make their bets later, when the line has fallen to +6.5, get only six and a half points.

The line changes because the sports books are looking for balance in the amounts wagered. As long as somewhere close to the same amount is wagered on both sides, the house will make money because of the 10 percent vig charged in addition to your wager. That is, for a chance to win $10, you must wager $11.

If too great a proportion of the wagers are on the same side, the house will change the line in an attempt to draw more bets to the other side. In the case you mentioned, not enough money was wagered on the 7-point favorite, so the spread dropped to 6.5.

Regardless, you get the spread that was in effect when you made the bet.