It seems that the American Casino Guide has recently decided to try their hand with making slot videos, so here I am to review them. For this article, I’m going to select from the ACG’s slot videos on Youtube (and maybe a few others) and offer some commentary on each individual video. At the end, I’ll rate each video individually as well as give an overall rating for the subset of videos watched.
More than anything, scoring is going to be based mainly on accuracy and clarity with entertainment value being only a small factor in the scores. Furthermore, I’ll be giving each video a 0-10 score and will not be breaking down the scoring into components.
With that out of the way, let’s get started:
The American Casino Guide released a video on Ocean Magic just a few days ago (relative to the time that this was written). The cat has been out of the bag for Ocean Magic for quite some time, in fact, Wizard started a thread in which the game was fully broken down here. Wizard’s full breakdown as the result of game testing and simulation also appears on the Wizard of Odds site.
With that, we’re going to take a look at this Youtube video in which Matt Bourie of the American Casino Guide tells us about Ocean Magic.
The first thing that Bourie says is that he’s going to teach people how to get a, “Guaranteed win every time,” and then proceeds not to do that. His example consists of bubbles on Position 3 (from the top) that will rise up to Position 2 on Reels 1 & 3 with a bubble in Position 2 on Reel Five that will rise up to what I would call Position 1 (Top Position).
The reason that this setup is not actually a guaranteed win is because it is possible that Bourie would spin and receive stars (any color) on Reel 2 and then no stars on Reel 4 with no Ocean Magic symbols hitting on either Bubble on Reels 1 or 3. Admittedly, that would be a very unusual scenario, but it’s important to point out that three-of-a-kind stars don’t actually pay anything on Bubble Boost mode. Honestly, if you, “Vulture,” (only play the game in a positive state) enough times, you’ll see this happen sooner or later.
More than that, and perhaps less nitty, there are combinations of actual wins that could result in a net loss with this setup.
However, to be completely fair, most setups with a bubble on Reel 1 and one on Reel 3 traveling up together starting from Position 3 (second from the bottom) are going to result in a net win.
At about one minute in, Bourie goes on to explain that you need three in a row for a winning combination and, given the setup of the bubbles, that means he is guaranteed to get some winning combinations over the next two spins. Once again, that’s what will typically happen, but as I detailed above, not every three-of-a-kind pays anything when Bubble Boost is turned on, so he’s not exactly right here. This will often be true for the second spin he will take (wherein the Bubbles on Reel 1 and Reel 3 will travel to the top if he doesn’t get more Bubbles) because there aren’t as many combinations that will involve those two spots.
The first spin that he takes he describes as, “The best thing that could happen,” which isn’t even remotely true. He didn’t get an Ocean Magic Symbol matching his Bubble on Reel 1 or Reel 5 which would have been however many more five of a kinds of OM symbol. Don’t get me wrong, he definitely hit a top tier result, but it wasn’t the best thing that could happen.
It also makes me wonder how many attempts at this were done to get such a result. The video begins with Bourie having 5910 credits on the machine, so unless he was just running around vulturing and decided that would be a good time to do a video, chances are he created his own setup.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with creating his own setup. Even when you explain something like this in writing, you’re basically creating your own setup when you describe the conditions needed to have spins with a large expected profit. What I’m wondering is whether or not this is the first setup he created that he actually played off, or whether there were a few where the results weren’t as good. Once again, while not the best spin possible, I’d call his spin pretty top-tier.
Ironically enough, the second spin did end up being a net loss relative to the amount bet, thereby proving my earlier point that it’s not a guaranteed win even when you play excellent Ocean Magic setups. There are some setups that would be guaranteed wins, but the one he was playing wasn’t one of them and guaranteed win setups are going to be quite rare…though a little more common on Bubble Boost mode.
After that, we go off the rails a little bit. The next thing that happens is Bourie shows people how to be able to tell that the bubbles are coming up from the bottom. At some point, he lost a few bucks (compared to where he was after the second spin above) and I have no idea why. Anyway, he correctly demonstrates how bubbles will appear on the screen when coming up from the bottom.
At that point, he plays a Reel 5 coming up from the bottom, which is extremely negative, but lucks his way into bubbles on Reel 1 and Reel 3. He plays that off to a small net profit and a final game state of a Bubble about to travel to the fourth position of Reel 1 and a bubble to the first position (top) of Reel 5 which he remarks, “...I don’t think is worth it.”
Saying he doesn’t think that’s worth it seems like a bit of a mixed message considering he had just played a bubble coming up from the bottom of Reel 5 only, which is terrible. In his defense, that may have just been for demonstration purposes.
SUMMARY: My biggest issue with the video is his use of the word, “Guaranteed,” when the winnings are not guaranteed from the positions that he played. That said, you’ll be net profitable in extremely short order if you only play that sort of position, so it’s almost a semantic issue more than anything. It’s just an odd thing that he left in the, “Guaranteed,” verbiage given that his second spin demonstrated, clearly, that it’s not a situation in which one is guaranteed to profit.
I also thought it was weird that he would play Reel 5 only, but it might have just been for the purposes of demonstrating that a bubble would come up and then he lucked his way into another Reel 1 & Reel 3 setup. I’m also surprised that he didn’t want to play off that Reel 1 bubble (at the end) with Bubble Boost off—I would have played it. It’s honestly about the worst setup that I WOULD play, but I’d have played it.
Overall, I’m going to give his video a 7 out of 10 as I consider it a video with slight misinformation, but the fact that it clearly conveys the general notion of how to play a profitable Ocean Magic game makes up for that a bit. Good job, overall.
AINSWORTH QUICK SPIN
Is American Casino Guide being sponsored by Ainsworth? I have no idea why the publication (meaning ACG) would ever want to encourage anyone to play a penny slot game, but here we are. Let’s hit play and dig into this one.
Early in the video he says, “This is a good game because it’s a penny machine, fifty credits, so you can bet up to three times. We’re going to be betting max lines, three times, and it’s only $1.50 a spin.”
Okay, so where I’m confused is why is that a selling point for the game? There are any number of slot machines in which some amount between $1-$2 can be bet and where the max bet falls somewhere in that area. In fact, $1.50 is a fairly common max bet amount for an earlier generation of slot machines with Quick Hit Platinum also having that on a ton of penny units that used to be out there; some of which are still around.
I guess the only thing that I can defend is, when compared to the newer generations of slot machines, $1.50 is on the lower end of max bet amounts. I still don’t think that alone is a good reason to recommend a machine, though. Besides that, we have no way of knowing (unless he was told) was percentage payout that unit is set at, or more importantly, any other unit in most casinos.
Fortunately, we do get the disclaimer as to the high house edge and fast rate of play just over a minute into the video.
I can understand where ACG is going to choose to market some of their videos to casual slot players, even if I don’t love the decision. I don’t really understand why they picked this game specifically, but maybe that will be explained later on in the video.
At about four minutes in, Bourie points out exactly what I said in the previous paragraph. However, he follows that up by saying, in part, “...these are the games that you’re going to want to check out; they give you a great value for your gambling dollar.”
Okay, WHY does that game give me a great value for my gambling dollar? That hasn’t been made clear to me, at any point in this video, other than him pointing out that the max bet of the machine is $1.50. Personally, I don’t think that’s enough to go on to call something a, “Great value.” At no point have we heard anything about what percentage the game holds compared to other slots machines. For example, if this game holds 15% (I have no idea what it holds, btw) and a machine with a $2.00 max bet holds 10%, then you’d be better off on an expected loss per spin basis (22.5 cents v. 20 cents) to play the $2.00 game.
Aside from certain machines in certain jurisdictions as well as some games on online casinos, players simply don’t know what the long-term RTP of the machines are, so I find it a bit of a stretch to call anything a, “Great value.”
It’s also pretty clear from his questions to someone off-camera that he hasn’t actually played this game before.
He then states that you can bet up to $5.00 on the machine, even though he’d said before that $1.50 was the max bet. He goes on to say, “...this middle of the road bet seems good for having your money last,” but if the goal is to play as long as possible, is there not a smaller bet on the machine that can be made?
Bourie then discusses how players can get a multiplier on the wheel spin and concludes, “Somehow, the multiplier comes by getting more than six (wheel symbols) of them.” This is information that can probably be found on the machine’s rule screen, which he never looked at. For my part, I’d recommend showing the viewers through the rule screen, and I really don’t see why they wouldn’t have done that.
Bourie spent the first several minutes of the video either a little bit ahead or treading water as he hit both the free spins bonus and a no multiplier wheel bonus within the first five minutes.
What I can say for ACG is that they honestly played a session as the last seven minutes of the video consisted of Bourie absolutely going in the tank losing both his previous gains and more than half of the $100 that he put in the machine to begin with. At 5:36 in the video, he had just over $120 on the machine and was under $40 by the end of the session at at 12:42. In other words, he dropped just over $80 in that seven minute span.
With that, he concludes, “...it’s a great game you can play; you get a lot of value for your money.”
My question is, “When did that happen?” Even if we ignore the fact that he dropped over $80 in seven minutes betting $1.50 per spin and look at the entire session, he still lost just over $60 in the space of 11 minutes of actual playing. Personally, I wouldn’t call a machine where it’s nothing to lose more than $300/hour betting $1.50 a great value on anything, but that’s just me.
SUMMARY: My downscore on this is mostly because I have no idea why ACG would pimp this game, why they would call a game a, “Great value,” without explaining why (and it’s probably not even true anyway) and why they wouldn’t show the viewers how to find the rules screens and learn what the bonuses are and how they work in advance of playing.
The only thing that saves this video from getting a completely abysmal score is the fact that Bourie was entertaining while he played, as well as whomever he was talking to off-camera and you could tell that he was even getting into the near misses a bit. Still, this video refers to this slot machine as a great value game without ever presenting anything that would support that position, so I’m going to give it a 2 out of 10.
FIVE GREAT GAMES
The premise of the next video is that ACG is going to take a look back at what they call five great slot machine themes, so I don’t even know what to expect going into this one. Let’s have a look and see what they have to say about each one.
This video features noted writer, John Grochowski, who has written a few books on casino games. He starts the video by pointing out that slots don’t hold their popularity for as long as they once did, but plans to present some of the older generation of slots with a ton of longevity.
Blazing 7’s: Grochowski makes a number of great points for the Blazing 7’s theme. This video is definitely going to be worth a watch for anyone with an interest in slot machines, but since each section is only a couple of minutes long, I’m not going to hit on all of his points here. Perhaps the most interesting point that he made in this section is that the original single-line version of this game started with a Progressive based at $1,000 and the jackpot frequency was likely enough that it would typically hit prior to $1200, which means that most jackpots were not subject to mandatory tax withholding. (W-2G)
Double Diamond: While not quite as old as Blazing 7’s as a theme, Grochowski’s main point is that the base Double Diamond theme can be found in casinos to this day and has been incorporated, in one way or another, into even modern slot games such as Wheel of Fortune.
Jackpot Party: For his Jackpot Party section, Grochowski focuses on a combination of unique gameplay combined with the number of different types of machines across multiple generations of slots to have some variation of this game. For me, this one is the only head scratcher on this list. It’s not that Jackpot Party isn’t a good theme, and perhaps national numbers would prove me wrong, but while I recall seeing some Jackpot Party variation or another in most casinos, I don’t ever really recall seeing a ton of Jackpot Party units in any one casino.
Personally, I would be inclined to replace Jackpot Party with the Quick Hits series of games, and perhaps Grochowski would now as the Quick Hits brand seems to still do well in installations, but I suppose the original version of this video was from 2013, so QH had almost a decade less under its belt at that time.
Monopoly: This is a solid pick and represents the first licensed theme that is being discussed in this video. Grochowski focuses on the longevity of the game as well as the fact that it has been incorporated into totally different types of games (such as a game with four sets of reels). Grochowski also highlights the trip Around the Board feature and points out that it’s a hit among loyal Monopoly slot players and is consistently a feature in the majority of games.
Wheel of Fortune: The second licensed slot machine listing in this video, and the final theme mentioned, is Wheel of Fortune. I think that anyone familiar with casino layouts isn’t going to be surprised by this pick as some variant of Wheel of Fortune or another (including Wheel of Fortune 4D from the recent generation) can be found in most casinos. In addition to that, there have been any number of copycat games that are basically just Wheel of Fortune without being called that. One of the best points Grochowski makes is that WoF had that iconic sound, which would frequently draw the attention of players of other machines as well as passersby. There are a number of slots that become spectator events when bonuses are hit in casinos today, but WoF was one of the first to so successfully advertise itself just by having people playing it. Great pick!
Summary: Overall, I think this is the best video I have watched so far, though I could see why it might not be of great interest to casual slot players and is more for those inclined to get some opinions on slot machine history. There’s only one selection for this list that I disagreed with a little bit (and would replace with Quick Hits), but that’s just a matter of opinion. I’m going to rank this video a solid 10 out of 10 because I have no specific objections to it whatsoever and the only thing about it I would change is purely subjective.
SLOT MACHINE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
The next video that I will review also features John Grochowski and he will be answering questions from ACG viewers. In the description, we learn that this is an edited version of a video originally released in 2011, which was probably done to get some new slot machine material out there since ACG seems to want to cater to the market of slot players-and, understandably so, as they represent the majority of gamblers now.
For some reason, the video does not actually seem to present the questions and just jumps to Growchowski answering questions that we presume were asked, so let’s hit on the key points.
A.) Grochowski explains to players the differences between physical reel based slot machines and video slot machines that operate by way of random number generators. This explanation doesn’t strictly apply to Class II units, of course, so we will see if he gets into that later in the video. Other than that, it’s a really good explanation.
B.) Grochowski discusses payback percentages of slot machines and explains that slot programmers can set up a game to have an RTP of anything in the jurisdiction’s permissible range of returns. In other words, if Nevada requires a minimum return to player of 75% on slot machines (which it does), then the only thing a player can absolutely know about a slot machine is that it returns at least 75% to players in the long run.
One point that Grochowski makes is that, generally, high limit slot machines are going to have a greater return-to-player (percentage) than lower bet slot machines do. While that is sometimes true, (things have changed a little bit since that video came out depending on jurisdiction) it is possible for a lower denomination slot machine, taken specifically, to return better than a higher denomination one.
One thing that nobody ever points out is the expected loss per hour, which I think is appropriate to look at when it comes to slot machines. The possibility of hitting an out of this world jackpot aside, imagine a $100 denomination slot machine upon which you can only bet one unit ($100) with a 96% return-to-player compared to a penny slot with a $2.00 max bet and an 85% return-to-player...the $100 unit has an expected loss, per spin, of $4 which is more than you’re even betting per spin on the other unit in the first place. Specifically, the $2.00 max bet machine (given these assumptions) would have an expected loss of $0.30/spin.
Anyway, I think that’s an important thing to point out rather than just saying, “Oh yeah, high limit machines generally have the best return to player.” Of course, someone with a bankroll of, say, $1,000, is intuitively going to realize that they could be gone in ten spins playing the $100 machine and will probably avoid it if being able to play awhile is amongst their concerns.
C.) The next selection is a brilliantly framed explanation as to how slot machines work when it comes to hitting the long-term RTP. Grochowski explains that slot machines don’t have to go into any, “Make up mode,” and presents a concise and understandable position that even a slot machine hitting its top jackpot would become statistically insignificant given enough play. I’m not sure that I liked his verbiage on that last bit as I would call top jackpots statistically very significant (if there is significant play and the top result never hits, then the machine probably would end up holding more in that sample than the intended house edge), but it’s a great explanation for a layperson to wrap their head around.
D.) The next section has Grochowski going into regulated vs. unregulated slot machines and he accurately discussed the fact that states can have different minimum and maximum payback percentages on different units, while some states (such as Nevada) have no maximum. He points out that some slot machine and video poker units found in bars aren’t regulated at all, but tells viewers that all the machines in licensed casinos are supposed to comport with the guidelines of the state for minimum payback.
E.) We get to hear a little bit about Native American casinos in the next section wherein Grochowski points out that the minimum return percentage on slots, or if there even is one, depends on the compact between the tribe and the state. At this point, I had expected that there would be a little information differentiating Class II and Class III units, but to my surprise, that didn’t happen here.
F.) The next section dispels the myth that casinos routinely change the machines to have a better or worse payback in advance of weekends, or just during different times of the day. Grochowski’s answer on this one is quite excellent as he correctly states that it was too long of a process to do as of the time the original video was made (2011), but that the concept of server-based gaming is on the horizon and that such a thing would be possible if the Gaming Board(s) are available to approve the changes.
G./H.) This next section is basically a reiteration of what he said in Section C above. The section after that simply gets into the difference between payback percentage and hit frequency.
Summary: This is another excellent video with John Growchowski and I highly recommend anyone reading this article give it a watch. My favorite part was when he made a comparison between programming the odds and payouts of a slot machine to those of the game of Roulette, which I think is a comparison most players should be able to understand. I’d have liked to have seen Class II machines discussed a little bit, given the context of the video (and the apparent fact that one viewer had asked about Native American casinos specifically), but overall, it’s a great video and gets a 9 out of 10 from me.
HOW SLOT MACHINES WORK (2022 UPDATE)
For the next section, I’m going to review a somewhat recent video that can be found here, which I believe is the longest video that I’ll be reviewing, so let’s see if this is going to be worth your time to watch.
This video features Steve and Matt Bourie of ACG along with Mike Trask, who is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Ainsworth, so this should be interesting as we are going to basically be getting it directly from someone who works at the source.
A.) How Do Slot Machines Work?
-The first question is pretty broad, but what I do like is that Trask specifically mentions that he will be giving his answers based on Class III Gaming, so players of some Native American casinos (or certain machines in N.A. casinos where there is a mix) will know that the answers might not apply.
B.) Payback Percentages
-The next question has to do with RTP (return-to-player) and whether or not the casinos can select their own RTP”s. Most readers here will already know the answer to this, but Trask states that Ainsworth (and others) usually manufacture games with a set of available RTP’s, he uses examples ranging from 85%-90%+ and says that the casinos can choose from those.
-Trask states that higher denomination machines are generally going to see the range of potential returns-to-player go up compared to lower denomination machines, but the example that he uses ranges from 88%-96%, so from that, we can gather a few things:
a.) High denomination slot machines CANNOT automatically be assumed to have a better return percentage than low denomination slot machines. Generally speaking, they will, but it’s not automatic. Individual casinos are generally going to be consistent with what they are doing, vis-a-vis denominations, but nothing is guaranteed.
b.) In theory, though generally not in practice, you could have a penny denomination machine set to 94% sitting right next to a dollar denomination machine set at 88%, just for one example.
-At this point, Trask reiterates that the casino ultimately decides on what RTP they wish to have for each individual unit.
-There’s a follow-up question that is asked in which Trask says that a casino’s RTP’s over a given period of time for individual denominations are generally publicly available (in state-regulated jurisdictions) and usually will reflect the house edge that a casino is going for in the long-term. Trask also reiterates that higher denominations will typically have higher RTP’s than lower denominations and alludes to the fact that the publicly available statistical reports often bear that out.
C.) Multi-Denomination Games:
-Trask is asked whether or not the different denominations of multi-denomination units can have different paybacks. Trask answers that they can and the most likely case for an individual machine is that they are set such that the higher denominations will have what he describes as a, “Significantly higher,’ payback.
Trask answers a follow-up question by pointing out that these machines usually come with different sets of returns based on each denomination and, in the case of Ainsworth, aren’t typically going to be individually configurable. Essentially, the casinos would just choose from a set of RTP’s based on the different denominations.
D.) PAR Sheets
-The first thing that we learn from Trask is that PAR Sheet stands for ‘Probability and Accounting Report,’ (he believes) which is something that even those familiar with the concept of PAR Sheets may not have specifically known. Trask summarizes that the PAR Sheets will list available payback percentages for a given game as well as select probabilities (Free Games, features, top jackpots—from those I have seen) and maximum jackpot liabilities for a given machine title.
E.) Long-Term Theoretical Return
-Trask is asked how many spins it would take for an RTP to be realized and states that slot machine designs are based on an indefinite, or infinite, number of spins.
-Of course, readers here will also know that this is where the concept of variance and standard deviation comes into play. The probability of being within x percentage of the long-term theoretical return is obviously going to increase with the more spins that are taken, but even then, there’s going to exist the potential for significant disparity in results not just based on the fact that there are different machine titles with more volatility or less volatility, but even the same machine titles can see drastically different returns even in large sample sizes—mostly based on how many top jackpots (or similar events) have actually been hit.
-In other words, there’s no real singular answer to this question, as Trask is almost certainly going to detail. Trask uses a coin-flipping analogy to describe the relationship between slot spins and coming close to the long-term theoretical, which is probably a bit oversimplified for my liking (coin flips have SIGNIFICANTLY less variance over equal sample sizes), but is probably good enough to get the general point across for most viewers. I’d have liked to have seen some mention of coin flips being a binary outcome with 50/50 probability (in the abstract, anyway) whereas an individual slot machine spin (given free games being on the machine) can have as many as thousands, or perhaps even tens of thousands, of different specific results.
F.) Slot Payouts
-The question is posed whether or not slots essentially regulate their own RTP’s by performing better or worse over given intervals based on how they had performed before that. Trask answers that slot machine spins are all independent events and that it would be, “Highly illegal,” for a slot machine to essentially self-correct.
-He answers a follow up comment by using a Bingo comparison to essentially say that every play is an individual event and every result that happens, essentially (even though he doesn’t use this terminology) happens with replacement.
-One way of sort of paraphrasing what he says is this: Imagine that you had a bucket with balls numbered 1-100 in it and you drew number 22. If number 22 is not put back into the bucket, which it wouldn’t be in a Live Bingo draw, then it’s obviously impossible to draw #22 on the following draw, or until the Bingo game is over and all numbers are put back in. The way that slot machines work is that a particular set of numbers is selected, but then immediately returned to the bucket, such that the same exact set of numbers could be selected again, in theory, on the very next spin. Certainly, the probability of those particular numbers being selected again is unchanged from prior to them ever being selected in the first place.
-Anyway, his explanation of that might not have been as clear as it could have possibly been, but in my opinion, it was still really good and sufficient to give players a general idea. It’s clear to me that Trask is aware of terms such as, “With replacement,” and, “Without replacement,” but is trying to find a simpler way of explaining the concept to viewers.
G.) Is it hot? Is it due?
-Trask gives an excellent answer to the question of whether or not slot machines are, ‘Hot,’ or, ‘Due to hit,’ and explains that it always feels like it’s one way or another way. Coming from someone who works for Ainsworth, you might be surprised to see Trask discuss player psychology and as much as say that slots are designed to make players feel that way and that he himself sometimes feels as though a machine is, “Due,” even though he would clearly be in a position to know better than that.
After that, they reiterate the example of pulling a ball, with replacement, using red balls (90) and white balls (10) to explain that it’s always 90% either way.
H.) Do People, ‘Miss,’ Jackpots?
-Trask goes into the fact that the RNG is operating in terms of milliseconds and expresses doubt that a person who gets off a machine just to see someone else hit a jackpot would have hit the button at the same precise time that the previous player did. Trask reiterates that he enjoys playing the machines himself and says that it often feels that way, but that’s just another component of how slot machines are designed to play off of an individual’s psychology.
I.) Does it Matter What You Pick in Bonuses?
-Trask answers that it can be done both ways on slot machines. Trask states that it’s usually an indicator that players are given a true choice, generally, when it reveals all of the selections that were possible after the picking game is over. In general, the implication is that it is not a, “True choice,” when the results that were not picked are not revealed.
MY NOTES: Crucially, Trask makes it clear that he’s making a generalization with this and states that it might not always be true. For my part, I know of an example where it may or may not be both ways with an online game called, “Blood Suckers.” The way one of the bonuses in that game works is that you will pick vampire coffins, and each time you reveal a vampire, you will win a prize. However, when the player selects an empty coffin, the game ends.
What’s interesting about Blood Suckers is that three of the coffins (of 12) will be empty, which would imply a 25% chance of picking an empty coffin on the first pick. However, picking an empty coffin on the first pick will NEVER happen, which means that the player always wins something during the bonus game.
However, the game does show what the results of each coffin would have been after an empty coffin is eventually selected. With that, one of two things are happening: The game is either presenting an illusion that the picks matter, or alternatively, the picks actually DO matter, except the first pick is gimmicked such that an empty coffin on the first pick will be replaced with something else.
The short answer, in my opinion, is that Trask is generally correct (and, he would be in a position to know, obviously), but that a given player never really knows for an individual machine or game.
-On that note, Steve Bourie does indeed point out that some of the games reveal the prizes even though what the player picked was not actually relevant. Trask counters that might be possible, but with Ainsworth games, if the game shows the different things that could have been picked, then what the player picks actually matters.
J.) Must-Hit Machines
-Trask is asked how the jackpots work on, “Must-Hit,” machines, so this is obviously going to be an answer that is of great interest to many readers here. Trask answers first for Ainsworth and says that their games will randomly select an increment between the base number and the must-hit by point. He says when the meter hits the point chosen by the RNG, the jackpot will be triggered.
-I’m going to deduct a little bit because one question that I would have liked to see was whether or not the RNG is programmed to make all increments equally likely (rather than having probabilities set such as to favor high amounts) but that question, unfortunately, never got asked. Crucially, Trask said that the RNG chooses from all possible increments, but he never says anything that would imply that all incremental points are equally likely.
K.) Changing the Payback at Different Times
-Trask agrees with an earlier video that, while possible, it’s something that is essentially never done as it would require a tremendous amount of effort to change the RTP of an entire slot floor. Trask points out that it seems like they might sometimes pay better during busy times, but that’s simply by virtue of the fact that there are more people playing.
-They also get into a brief discussion on machine positioning and the myth that the outside machines are set to hit more often. However, all parties agree that it simply seems that way because the outside machines tend to get more play than those in the middle in so-called, “Six-Pack,” configurations.
L.) Server-Based Games
-Trask points out that server-based Class III games were something that were tried, but didn’t really take off as a concept. He maintains that historical horse racing games, as well as Class II games, operate on a server, but that the server operation has nothing to do with the long-term RTP of a game.
-Ultimately, the group also points out that most casinos would have to reconfigure their entire slot floor to even accommodate server-based games, which might be a large part of the reason why the concept was essentially dead on arrival. Trask points out that some wide area progressives are linked to one another for the purposes of building up the progressive, but that each individual machine in that set would still operate off of its own individual chip. He even points out that he’s never actually encountered a land casino that uses server-based games wherein someone could simply, “Flip a switch,” and change the RTP at will.
-Though they don’t exactly make the point here, but we will recall from an earlier video (which is actually a later video since this review is reverse-chronological) that the casino would still need approval from gaming to change the return of a slot machine game, even if it could be done quickly through a server.
***Another point that Trask makes as to what makes the machines fun is the sort of superstitions that players buy into regarding hitting the button, or screen, in certain ways and players buying into their own illusions of what might or might not cause the machines to win.
***Where some people say, “Predatory,” Trask says, “Fun,” but for the purposes of this article, I’ll just let readers come to their own conclusions of how they look at it. Feel free to post what you think down in the comments section!
M.) Play Without Players Card?
-Trask says that the players card has no impact whatsoever, and essentially, that players are only hurting their own return by not using the players card because they don’t get the various offers or points that can be turned into free play.
-Along similar lines, Trask points out that the volume setting on a machine makes no difference whatsoever.
N.) Are Bonus Wheels Random?
-Trask says that Bonus Wheels are generally not random. Using the example of ten wheel spots that have the visual appearance of being equally likely, he says that the probabilities of hitting each individual result can vary wildly depending on the specific game and machine.
-Along somewhat similar lines, Steve Bourie asks whether or not it matters what a player picks, or when the player pushes the button, when it comes to going into different types of bonus rounds or what those rounds will return to the player in actual results. Trask says that it can be done either way and sometimes it, “Matters,” where other times what the bonus round is going to do is not based on a secondary RNG and was already determined on the initial spin. He also says that sometimes the bonus spins are individual RNG draws.
-One question along these lines that wasn’t addressed were the games where a player has the choice of selecting free games or to be awarded a credit amount between a minimum and a maximum. I’d have liked to have heard from Trask which option is better overall, though DRich has previously stated that (for the games he was speaking for) taking the Free Games was generally slightly better.
Summary: It makes a bit more sense why ACG would later release a video pimping Quick Spin, which is an Ainsworth game. I’m actually a little bit surprised that they didn’t say anything about the possible return settings for the penny denomination since they probably could have got that information from Trask himself.
Overall, I would put this video as a, “Must Watch,” for slots enthusiasts and find it extremely useful in that you have someone who is a high-ranking Ainsworth employee directly telling people that a few of the more popular slot myths are absolutely not true. There are a few questions that I would have liked to have seen them ask Trask that they didn’t, but the overall body of information is excellent and I have absolutely zero major complaints. Overall: 9 out of 10 for this video.
TOP TEN SLOT MACHINE MYTHS (TWO VIDEOS)
Here and here, you will find two videos that go over what ACG considers to be the Top Ten slot machine myths. I might rank them in a different order and I might not, but that’s ultimately subjective and unimportant when it comes to the actual quality and content of these videos.
For this review, I’m going to watch the videos and address the myths the way that I would and compare them to how they address the myths. Of course, all answers are extremely likely to be correct since we are starting with the presumption that these are myths, so you can read and watch along to see how the answers compare. Naturally, I am not going to watch their answers before typing my own, though I do expect most answers to be substantially the same. For fun, feel free to read my answers as you watch their videos!
10.) They Took My Jackpot!
- This is absolutely a myth as the result is chosen at the specific time, in milliseconds (or less, even) of when a person hits the button. Just because someone else happened to sit down at the machine and hit, “Your jackpot,” on a machine that you were just playing does not mean that you would have hit the same jackpot.
- Furthermore, and even getting a little deeper into the myth, you wouldn’t have necessarily hit the jackpot even if you had pressed the button at the same exact time down to the milliseconds. The RNG doesn’t go through a series of outcomes that it has already preselected and go in a particular order, instead, it picks the numbers that correspond to the reel positions from all possible outcomes CONSTANTLY. While it may be true that the RNG happened to select that outcome right when you stopped playing and someone else started playing, there was never a guarantee that the RNG would even choose that outcome at any given point in time.
- In short, not only would you likely NOT have hit the button at that precise millisecond, but furthermore, there was nothing in the RNG that would have automatically given you that jackpot even if you HAD hit it at that exact time. That kind of makes this a myth for two reasons.
9.) Bonus Round Illusion of Choice
- The supposed myth is that it doesn’t matter what players choose to do in a bonus round because the outcome (read: winnings) has already been predetermined. For me, I’m going to call this not exactly a myth because, as we saw in the earlier video, it sometimes DOESN’T ACTUALLY MATTER what the player does as the outcome is unrelated to what symbols (or whatever) the player chooses in the bonus round.
- Ultimately, I would say that this is sometimes a myth and sometimes not, it just depends on what game is being played.
*NOTE=-They basically answered in a way that agrees with me and what we heard in the previous video, so I’m not sure why they would list this as a myth. Is it really a myth if it’s sometimes true?
8.) The Machine Will Pay You Out When You Reduce Your Bet
- This is basically just confirmation bias mixed with the fact that the player will often take more spins at a lower bet than they do at a higher bet.
- Basically, the myth is that the machine is designed to pay people out at lower bets if they have already lost betting greater amounts and that’s simply not true at all. For most slot machine games, while the expected loss per spin will be less, the player is actually hurting their overall return percentage by making certain outcomes less likely, impossible or, in the case of progressives, not getting the full payout relative to the bet that they would be getting had they bet the max. It should be mentioned that, albeit rarely, there are some machines where the bet amount doesn’t change anything about the return or gameplay.
- Anyway, the confirmation bias stems from the fact that some players are simply expecting this to happen and then, lo and behold, it happens! The fact that it happened lends credibility to their underlying notion that this is just the way slot machines work. Well, we have to ask ourselves, why did it happen?
- The first thing that players should note is that the symbol distribution, for most games, is not going to change based on the amount being bet. With that, the RNG has simply selected a desired result when you were betting low as compared to when you were betting high.
- However, in some cases, players are actually taking more spins on the lower bet amounts, so it stands to reason that players become more likely to see a desired result (such as free games) eventually, given that they are taking more spins. To compare it to Video Poker, imagine that you are playing 9/6 Jacks or Better with $100 in the machine and you are going to play until you either get Quads or Better, or bust out. Are you more likely to see quads with a $100 investment playing on a $5 denomination game for $25 bets, or on a $0.05 denomination game with $0.25 bets? Generally, you’re going to get many more hands in with the $0.05 denomination game, so that’s a very extreme comparison to what’s happening here with players thinking they are only getting the desired results on lower bets.
- Also, why get angry about winning after reducing your bet? Would you have preferred just continuing to lose, albeit more slowly?
7.) Does, “Slam Stopping,” Change Anything?
- No, and personally, I think you should just take your time and enjoy the game because you will ultimately lose on slot machines in the long run and NOT slam stopping will allow you to lose more slowly. The first time you hit, “Spin,” the RNG decided what your result was going to be and trying to, ‘Time,’ stopping the reels isn’t going to change that.
- The only time I would recommend slam stopping is if you’re an advantage player playing in a positive situation (such as with a must-hit) as it will let you get done playing and move on to the next faster. Doesn’t it suck when you’re playing a major that you can’t slam stop?
6.) Using a Player’s Card Hurts Your Chances of Winning
- The RNG absolutely doesn’t care whether or not you use a players card. The only thing that you are doing by not using a card is not earning comps or points that you otherwise could be, so you actually hurt your own total return to player by thinking you are doing something that helps you.
- One caveat to this is the concept of average daily theoretical, which is often going to be what your offers are based on. To a very limited extent, you might hurt yourself a bit by using your player’s card if you play significantly less than the amount that you normally would at that particular casino, but that’s something that most players don’t really worry about or would understand anyway.
5.) Slot Machine Location Matters
- This is the notion that slots in high traffic or low traffic areas, or slots on the edges rather than the middle of the bank, are ‘Looser,’ or, ‘Tighter,’ than others. This is pretty much just a patently nonsensical myth that either has no basis in reality or is based on old concepts of slot floor design.
- If players notice more jackpots or free games being hit on the edges of a given slot machine bank rather than the middle, then I would suggest they just take a look around the casino (especially during slower times) and you will notice that most people don’t sit in the middle, which is especially true when there are three machines in the bank.
- It’s almost like seats on an airplane, right? Most people don’t want to have a middle seat because that means having people on both sides of you. For that reason, players will generally gravitate towards an end seat, which means they won’t have to worry about having someone on both sides of them and will only have someone beside them if someone takes the middle seat. Generally speaking, most players will choose to take the opposite end seat if it’s not already occupied.
- Quite simply, you’re going to see more jackpots in machine positions that get more play, which are typically not going to be in the middle. It doesn’t mean the machines have a better return. Actually, not that the casino would usually put so much thought into it, but if a slot floor manager really wanted to, he could play against the myth by making the outside machines have a WORSE RTP…not that any individual player who isn’t clocking the reels would ever notice. They mostly wouldn’t.
***Side Note-While watching their answer, which substantially agrees with mine (you might have noticed that all of them have so far) I notice they put the slot machine returns for Louisiana. If you pause, you will notice that the $5 machines had a worse return to player in that period (June 2016-May 2017) in two casinos than did the $0.05 denominations, in fact, nickels were the best denomination for one casino. That’s probably influenced a bit by Video Poker likely being included in those returns, but again, higher denomination generally means better return percentage, but it’s not automatic…going back to the last video.
4.) Casinos Tighten Up on Weekends and Loosen During the Week
- This is basically repetitive to other videos and other things that I have already said in this article. The quick answer is, “Generally not, mostly because it would be too much effort.”
- One thing that I will say is, depending on what myth-believer you ask, you’ll see some variation of this notion both ways: Better on weekends, worse weekdays, or better on weekdays, but worse on weekends. It certainly can’t be both, at least, not at any one casino! It’s all confirmation bias, at the end of the day.
3.) Due to Hit and, “Better Quit”
- This two-part myth is either a machine is due to hit because it hasn’t hit in awhile or that a player who hits a jackpot, “Better quit,” because now the machine is not going to hit again.
- Again, we’ve been over the whole concept of the RNG making each individual result (combination of randomly chosen numbers) equally likely at any given time. The only part of the myth that is even remotely true is that someone who hits a big jackpot is unlikely to hit another one, that’s not because they are less likely to hit it, but rather, because they were never highly likely to hit a big jackpot in the first place. Quite frankly, most individual spins or limited sets of spins are not going to result in a big jackpot.
- However, other than certain variable-state machines, what happens on the previous spin generally has absolutely no bearing on the distribution of possible results for the following spin, or spins.
***NOTE: They actually got into must-hits as a counterexample, this channel is really good! Of course, most people already have at least a passing familiarity with ACG.
2.) RTP 93% = Actual Return 93%
- This is a weird one for them to include because I don’t think very many people actually believe this. The only way it could ever be true, with the example of 93%, is if a player, for instance, bet $5.00 and got $4.65 back on every single spin with zero variance. The very concept of what makes gambling, well, gambling, is that the actual results are not strictly in line with the long-term theoretical on each individual spin. It would be an extremely boring game if it did work that way!!!
- Anyway, I’m just surprised to see it included because I don’t think anyone actually believes this. Certainly, it would be incredibly rare on a 93% RTP machine for a player to put in $100, make exactly $100 in bets and end up with exactly $93 after those spins. Most players’ empirical observations run contrary to the supposed myth.
1.) Always Bet Max
- They open up by pointing out that this is not always a myth and, with many machines, you’ll get a better RTP by betting max. Examples of this include probably the majority of progressive machines (especially ones that aren’t must-hits) as well as machines in which certain results are impossible if you’re not betting max.
- I don’t know if they’ll mention this or not (you’ll have to watch to find out) but there are a select few machines with unusual progressive rules where betting the max is sometimes worse for the player than betting some amount less than that! It’s also the case with variable-state machines that sometimes lower bets will have a game state that has an expected positive outcome compared to higher bets which sometimes will not. For example, I’d much rather bet $1 on an Ocean Magic game state loaded with bubbles than bet max on a game state that doesn’t have any bubbles on the next spin showing whatsoever!
Summary: Overall, these myth videos include some things that I wouldn’t exactly call myths, aren’t always myths and even one supposed, ‘Myth,’ that I don’t think anyone actually believes. However, the most important aspect of videos of this nature is that they be giving information that is correct, which these ones do. Overall, I’m going to score this video as a 7 out of 10 with the biggest deduction being that the information is largely duplicative of other videos that we have reviewed just in this article.
10 SMART TIPS FOR PLAYING SLOT MACHINES
The last video that I will review (and they have a TON more in their library) can be found here, wherein Steve Bourie will present 10 Smart Tips for Playing Slot Machines. Immediately, I appreciate the fact that it uses the verbiage, “Playing,” rather than, “Winning at.”
I hope that the first tip for this is to simply not play slot machines, but we’ll see.
We open up the video with the premise being changed to, “Ten Tips to Stretch Your Slot Machine Bankroll,” which is slightly different than what the title of the video would imply, but nothing egregious. Unlike some other videos of this nature from other content creators, I wouldn’t call this a bait and switch. I also like that Bourie immediately points out that slot machines are far from the best choice for bankroll longevity, given the high casino advantage.
The first tip is for individuals to slow down their rate of play, which makes obvious sense as fewer spins will lead to a lower expected loss, but I’d almost consider this tip so obvious as to not even be worth addressing. Players can work their expected loss on slot machines down to zero by simply not playing at all, so I don’t know how helpful this tip actually is.
The second tip, and a more useful one, is that a player does not always have to make a max bet. When giving this tip, Bourie highlights the different machine types and points out that betting max coins doesn’t automatically change the RTP or unlock progressives or bonus features; it just depends on the particular machine being played. Bourie encourages players to take a look at the paytable and rules screens to determine whether or not betting max actually improves the return to player. I actually like this tip because I don’t see it addressed much, and when I do see it addressed, the speaker often advises people to ALWAYS bet max coins.
The third tip is to play less volatile machines. I guess it's a good enough tip when it comes to bankroll longevity in the extreme short-term, but I don’t love this as a piece of general advice for casual slot machine players. The first reason that I don’t love it is because it places a huge emphasis on playing games with a high hit rate for lower payouts, which is fine, but often comes at the expense of an extreme rarity in hitting payouts that might actually cause a player to quit playing. Furthermore, the least volatile machines are often going to be ones in which you, “Win,” constantly, but actually take a net loss on the majority of even winning spins. In theory, the lowest volatility 90% RTP game would see you simply lose 10% of your bet every single spin, but that game doesn’t exist because, for obvious reasons, nobody would ever play that.
I don’t know what I would replace this tip with for casual slot machine players, but I can say that it’s usually just going to be the difference between potentially getting slaughtered and just getting nickel and dimed to nothing. Overall, I think it just depends on what the motivations are for an individual player, so if someone says, “I’m going to put in $100 and will stop when it has become $1,000 or I bust out,” then that player would likely be better off to play either medium or even high volatility machines. Sure, the $100 might last a bit longer on a lower volatility game, but it would come at the expense of almost definitely not turning $100 into $1,000, especially if the player is following the second piece of advice and not max betting.
The fourth tip is to play at casinos with higher paying machines, based on the public records. I can agree with that as a general tip, but taken alone, it doesn’t give a player any great insight into any one machine. The fifth tip is along these lines in which Bourie recommends playing at locals’ casinos in the Las Vegas area, as they tend to have better slot returns.
The sixth tip recommends looking for machines with signs that advertise high payback percentages, but not ones that say, “Up to xx%.”
The seventh tip is to avoid playing wide-area progressives with huge jackpots, Bourie uses MegaBucks as an example, and highlights that MegaBucks returns substantially less than the average machine of the same denomination.
The eighth tip is an interesting one in which Bourie suggests that two people pool their bankroll onto one machine and play together while taking turns. Essentially, this is a variation of the first tip, which was to play slower, but it’s essentially forced as you have one person actively spinning on the same pool of money as opposed to two. For casual players, I like this tip a lot.
The ninth tip is to use one’s players club card, which is obvious and has been addressed in earlier videos.
The final tip is to switch to video poker and not play slot machines at all! I’d have liked to have seen this as the first tip, but am happy that it appeared somewhere in there. Bourie also highlights the fact that the player exerts some control over the outcome, but that’s only sort of true. If a player plays Video Poker with perfect strategy and does not make any physical mistakes, essentially, that player is really just playing a very high returning slot machine. The reason I say that is because, if a player does not deviate from optimal strategy in any way whatsoever, then he’s really not controlling the outcome any more than he would be on a slot machine and the probabilities are just going to come to fruition in the long-term.
Summary: I like this one overall, except I don’t think that casual players should totally prioritize longevity and disagree with the advice to play lower volatility machines accordingly. While it might be true that it reduces the probability of a player getting absolutely clobbered within a very short period of time, in the long run, the RTP is just going to become the RTP. In the medium run, greater volatility can actually increase the probability of a player being ahead over a given amount of play. Again, zero volatility would be you hand me a dollar and I hand you back ninety cents, so obviously, some volatility is needed for a player to even be able to win at all. I’ll still give the overall body of the video an 8 out of 10 score.
Based on the collection of videos that I have reviewed in this article (which is a very small percentage of their library) I’m going to give the collection a 9 out of 10 and would strongly recommend that slot enthusiasts watch some of the videos presented by American Casino Guide. The channel has a focus on presenting players with accurate and detailed information, which is obviously the most important thing for channels of that nature.
Beyond that, the Wizard himself has appeared on any number of ACG videos, so you can go back through their library and look for some of those if you want to. Overall, it’s an excellent channel that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in slot machines or the other games that they discuss. Reading the articles here, pages on Wizard of Odds and watching these videos will give casual players pretty much all of the information they’ll ever need to at least make informed decisions when visiting the casinos.