John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. What does “F5” stand for on a betting line for baseball? I’m new to baseball betting and I see this on some lines and not others.

A. F5 signifies a line on the first five innings of a game. Some bettors like the five-inning bet because the pitching is less predictable over a full game in this age when starters pitch fewer innings than they once did.

In 2017, major-league starters averaged 5.5 innings per game, according to data at To look back a few decades, starting pitchers averaged 5.8 innings in 2007, 6.0 in 1997, 6.1 in 1987, 6.3 in 1977 and 6.4 in 1967,

Turning a larger portion of the game over to relief pitchers is an enduring, long-term trend. F5 wagers put the focus on the portion of the game where the bulk of the innings are pitched by starters who are named before the game.

Q. My husband and I play penny slots, maybe one casino day a month. We win sometimes, and when we lose it’s never more than $100 between us. We have fun, stop to watch each other’s bonus rounds, have lunch out, and just have a nice time.

Last week, I went with my mother while my husband was at work. She plays dollar three-reel slots, and she told me, “Go ahead and splurge a little today, you can’t really win anything on those pennies,” and she handed me $300, and called it an early birthday present.

I’d have liked to just put the $300 in with house money, but I played at the games next to her. And I won. I had one win for $800, and another one for $1,100. Even with other losses, I finished with more than $1,500, plus the $300 Mom gave me.

I told her we should split it, it was her money, but she refused and said we should call Dad and my husband and all go out to dinner, my treat. I think Mom lost something like $200, but she wouldn’t even take that first $300 back.

It all left me feeling funny. I did win big, and it’s really tempting to try again. I was so nervous betting all that money, I wasn’t exactly having fun until the first jackpot, but I really liked winning.

A. Congratulations on your wins! You had the kind of day in the casino players dream of.

However, be careful not to read too much into it. You’re the underdog every time you play. Days like your mother’s, losing a couple of hundred dollars, are a lot more common than winning $1,500, and the bigger your bets, the more you risk losing.

I’m going to make a few assumptions before doing a little arithmetic. First, I’ll assume you and your husband generally bet one coin per line on penny slots — 40 cents on a 40-line game. That’s a common way to play and the small losses you report tell me you’re not betting big on these games.

Next, I’ll assume you and your mother bet $3 per spin on the dollar machines. Pay tables on three-reel games include an incentive to bet the max, so most players do.

Dollar slots usually return a higher percentage to players than penny games, Let’s assume 90 percent on the penny games and 95 percent on dollar machines.

Per 1,000 spins, you risk $400 and average $40 in losses on the penny machines, and risk $3,000 with $150 in average losses on the dollar games.

If you decide to try dollars again, understand the risks, set hard limits on losses, and stick to them.

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