John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

My email brings more questions about slot machines than anything else. Most are of the “how can I find a hot machine?” or “how can I tell when a machine is ready to pay off?” variety.

For those, I have no answer — you can’t tell from looking at a machine whether it’s a high payer, and random results machines are never “ready” or “due” to pay off.

Those aside, let’s clear up some recent questions about the slots that I can answer:

Maria: Have you seen those sheets in some casinos that list the highest-paying slots? Some get posted around the casino, sometimes there’s a box where you can pick up your own sheet and use it as a guide.

They list the top machines and how much they’ve paid out in the last few days or last week. Do those really help? Should I play those machines?

Answer: You should consider such sheets as being for entertainment purposes only. Every machine has periods where it pays out more than at other times, just as a result of normal probability.

The sheets you describe have no real value in identifying high-paying machines. And for those who might be tempted to avoid last week’s high payers as due to go cold, that’s not the case either.

Results are random, and there is no tendency for a hot machine to stay hot or a cold machine to stay cold.

Justin: You’ve mentioned that before there were three-reel slots, there were gambling machines with wheels where you’d bet on a color.

Would you say they were slot machines? Were they called slot machines in their own time?

Answer: In the last couple of decades of the 1800s, when color wheel machines were being produced, nearly any coin-operated device was called a slot machine, including those that we would now call vending machines. If you dropped a coin in a slot and got a stick of gum, cup of coffee or a candy bar, you were buying from a slot machine.

Usage evolved so that in the early 1900s, “slot machine” came to mean specifically coin-operated gambling devices.

So yes, in their own time, color wheel games were slot machines. Would it still be called a slot machine today? Probably. Players have accepted a lot of different looks from slots, and skill-based games with no reels are being referred to as slots. If it’s a machine and you can gamble on it, players are probably calling it a slot machine.

Martha: Are there video slots where the bonus is predetermined? I’ve heard that when you make choices, your choice really makes a difference.

It seems like it would be easy to program it so that the machine gave you what it wanted to give you, regardless of your pick.

Are there machines that work like that?

Answer: What I’ve heard from manufacturers and casino operators is that prize amounts are not pre-determined in regulated casinos in the U.S.

One thing to watch for is whether you’re shown all possibilities when the bonus event ends. On the classic Jackpot Party, for instance, once you pick a Party Pooper to end the round, the awards and poopers hidden by all other gift box icons are revealed.

That amounts to advertising prizes, and all advertised prizes must be available. If prizes are not revealed at the end of a round, then it’s possible that your bonus was predetermined. If all prizes are revealed, then your choices make the difference,

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

Sign up to receive the area's top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every Thursday.