Posted by Mission146
Aug 20, 2020


“You win some, you lose some.”

Most people are familiar with this simple quote, or some variation of it such as Gayle Forman’s, “You win some; you lose some. And, sometimes you win and lose at the same time. Life’s a bloody cockup.”

This quote holds true in most aspects of life with very few exceptions; it also holds true in advantage play. A player could sit down with a tremendous advantage, such as a UX vulturing situation with 12x multipliers across the board...and then just strike out. There are a few examples of variable state slots (mostly due to reels automatically being wild for the next spin-s) in which it is impossible to lose, but that’s an exception.

Another exception to the rule is the Pace-O-Matic machines in Pennsylvania, (and others) which are branded as, ‘Games of skill.’ This is another example of a play in which it can be impossible to lose, and indeed, that one should play without ever losing.

First we will discuss what these machines are for the casual player:


The Pace-O-Matic skill machines that I am familiar with consist of a 3x3 layout that resembles a Tic-Tac-Toe board and plays much the same way. Anything that would be a line in Tic-Tac-Toe is a payline on a Pace-O-Matic machine.

Named after creator, CEO and President of the company, Michael Pace, the first Pace-O-Matic game was called, “Tic-Tac-Fruit,” and operated similarly to the machines that you might see today. On this forum, I spoke of these machines once being in the State of Ohio until that same state cracked down on them as, “Illegal gambling.”

Of course, the company argues that these machines are not gambling, but are rather games of skill. In this case, it is a matter of win some, lose some, because the State of Ohio did not see it the same way. Similar games, according to Media Relations, Michael Barley, are not owned by Pace-O-Matic. The similar games that can still be found in truck stops and bars in the State of Ohio theoretically should not pay out in actual cash, but rather in a voucher for merchandise credit.

In the State of Virginia, the argument that the Pace-O-Matic games where to be considered a game of skill has been found meritorious and those, and perhaps others, are legal within the state.

While there has been no official conclusion in the State of Pennsylvania, Pace-O-Matic overcame a temporary injunction in Beaver County when the Commonwealth Court declared the games, “Presumptively Legal,” earlier this year. In other words, the Beaver County court is essentially saying that there is nothing in Pennsylvania law that would make the machines illegal.


There are three components that make the Pace-O-Matic games those of skill, rather than just a slot machine (even though some players basically play them as a slot machine-but more on that later).

The first component is that the player will occasionally have to make an optimal decision in order to get a winning line. However, it’s not like a player could win on every single play...some plays are impossible to win on the lines simply because there is no Tic-Tac-Toe line of matching symbols. Additionally, some results are such that the player is paid less than the amount bet even if the player makes the best possible selection.

The decision that the player has to make is that the player will always (even on a guaranteed loser) have thirty seconds to pick a spot that the player wishes to change into a wild symbol. This is absolutely necessary because the player will NEVER have a winning line handed to him/her on an initial play without turning a symbol wild. Obviously, the first skill component is to make the best possible symbol wild when there is a winning opportunity.

Take a look at this:

Bell Cherry Bell
Bonus Spins Apple Orange
Bell Grapes Bell

In this scenario, the player actually cannot lose, because no matter where he/she chooses to put the WILD symbol, the result will be some kind of win. However, the WILD symbol is ideally placed right in the middle because then the result is that a line of Bells pays on two diagonal lines. Anything else would result in only one line of Bells paying horizontally or vertically.

Here are a few tips that I can give to players, which I am not (other than to get an idea of how it would work for ‘Normal,’ play) for playing straight up:

1.) Take Your Time

-You have thirty seconds to make your decision on where to put the WILD symbol, so even if you’re not accustomed to the game, that should be well more than enough time to determine if you have a winner(s) and what spot yields the most wins.

2.) Use Your Eyes

-I would advise players to be cautious because a few of the twelve games available on each machine have symbols that look roughly similar to one another. You might think you are making a match when you are not if you don’t follow the first piece of advice.

-Specifically, the fruit game has two fruits with little spots in the same place that vary only slightly in color. The Stars and Stripes game is mostly a gray/beige/brown color scheme, so everything can kind of look the same on that if you don’t take your time. Some games just have a dark theme, (particularly the graveyard and Halloween themed ones) so you would want to be cautious of that if that would disturb you.

-One of the Mexico-themed games has two guys who look pretty similar to one another if you’re trying to go too quickly. The Riches game has 1x Bonus, 2x Bonus, 3x Bonus and Free Games symbols, but only like amount multiplier bonuses match each other, so don’t get confused by that. In other words, 1x-Wild-2x would not result in bonus games.

-If you’re not well-acquainted with these machines just yet, my advice would probably be to play the Liberty Bells themed game. It’s fairly bright and (other than the bars, which will be bigger stacks than one another) all of the symbols look pretty different.

3.) Quick Look

-One thing that I noticed is that a puzzle will ONLY have two of the same symbol if it is possible to make one or more winning lines, so the first thing to look for is two of the same symbol anywhere. Two of the same symbol (even with the wild) could create a losing line---suppose in this configuration:

Bell Cherry Bonus Games
Free Spins Grapefruit Bell
Grapes Apple Cherry

In this theoretical configuration, there are two cherries and two bells, but no way to turn those into a line. Speaking at least for the Pennsylvania machines, this configuration is not possible on those. The only way that the player will ever have two of the same symbols is if there is a way to make a winning line.


-What’s the rush? You have thirty seconds. Occasionally, there will be a puzzle in which three or even four paying lines are made possible by selecting the right spot for a WILD. These will also not necessarily be all the same pay lines--you might have a line of Bells, one of Grapes, one of Free Games and one of Apples that can all be made simultaneously by putting the WILD right in the middle.

-So, don’t rush!!! Don’t get all excited just because you see that you can make a line of Free Games, instead, take your time and make sure that there are not simultaneous pay lines that can be made with that.

5.) You will not be forced to choose

Here is another configuration that is not possible, in my observation:

Bell Grapes Free Games
Orange Grapefruit Apple
Bell Bonus Free Games

In this theoretical configuration, the player would have to choose between Free Games and a line of Bells, but from what I can tell, such a configuration is not possible. Anytime there are multiple potentially winning lines, the player always has the ability to win on both lines at once.

Therefore, if you see multiples of two different symbols, it’s important to think back to #1 & #4, TAKE YOUR TIME, because there will be a spot to put the WILD symbol that leads to getting paid for a line of Bells and also going to Free Games.

Pace-O-Matic really likes to avoid the word, “Gambling,” but that is something that a player need not actually do. That leads us to the subtitle of this article, Just Don’t Lose:

Just Don’t Lose

The second skill component is to always only advantage play these things by never intentionally playing anything except a winning result.

You might ask: Brandon, now you’ve lost your mind, how can you simply choose not to lose?

The answer is simple: On these machines there is a button that says, “Next Puzzle,” and by hitting that button you can see what the next spin is going to be without actually making a bet. Therefore, the optimal way to play these---if it can even be called playing---is to only take the spin if you know the next puzzle is going to be a winner. If not, just don’t play.

For people who just want to, ‘Gamble,’ they could either knowingly take a losing result in order to see the puzzle that follows that one, or more simply, play without looking at the, ‘Next puzzle,’ ahead of time. In either case, the player will still want to make the optimal decisions pursuant to the advice offered above.

The final skill component also involves never losing:

Simon Says

On these Pace-O-Matic games, in the event the player has a losing result, somewhere on the screen will appear the words, “Tap here to follow me.”

Hitting the screen in that spot will lead the player to a game similar to Simon Says (Pocket Simon), except there are nine different colors arranged in a 3x3 grid and the player must hit the colors in the correct order twenty consecutive times.

The result of doing this successfully does not vary. If completed successfully, the player will ALWAYS win back his/her original bet amount and an additional five percent. A bet of $4.00 completing the Simon Says game (even if the player gets a partial return on the main game) will yield a result of $4.20 return to player.

Theoretically, a player could do this all day long and it would be extremely easy to cheat, but in my opinion, not particularly profitable.

The way the Simon Says game works is that, as you progress, there will be, ‘Intermissions,’ increasing in frequency that flash different colors at you and sometimes take several seconds. Overall, completing the game successfully takes two or three minutes each time.

One other thing that should be mentioned, and I don’t know if the games are programmed this way, is that I have never had a spin that was profitable on its own after successfully completing this game---though I admit the sample size is fairly limited.

Otherwise, this could theoretically be greatly advantageous because the player could continue to get his/her money back on losing spins (and an additional 5%) whilst waiting for a good winning spin in the future.

I do know that Pace-O-Matic has a patent for an anti-cheating mechanism, which is designed to adjust the player’s future results based on a determination of whether or not the player is cheating. It’s possible that the game will give the player nothing but losing (or partially losing) initial spins if the player is determined to be cheating. However, unlike Pace-O-Matic’s other patents, this one is wanting for specifics...so I really can’t be sure.

Either way, a player could theoretically win something like $4.00-$6.00/hour forever, if the player considers that worth the time...which I certainly do not.

In my straight up play of this mode, I found that I can successfully complete the Simon Says something like one in three times over the course of about thirty attempts. Obviously, I tested this at the $0.40 (Lowest) bet level because I knew I would lose some.

The way to cheat on this mode, if you are inclined, is simply to ignore the colors and assign numbers to each spot. Using either paper/pen or your phone, you could write down the numbers corresponding to each one of the spots that way you never miss. I did something like this:

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9

And, then you just pick the twenty numbers in the order written down. I did this for testing purposes and racked up five or six consecutive wins before becoming insanely bored. It was at this point that I also noticed---but could be just limited sample size---that none of my initial spins were profitable anymore.

Anyway, those are the three skill components that make this, at least according to some jurisdictions, a game of skill as opposed to a gambling game.

How It Works for Operators

In order to determine how this game works out for the operators/manufacturer, I did some pretty exhaustive patent research on these devices. I will not be including any links to the patents because they all show, “Related patents,” which are not necessarily Pace-O-Matic...but that I wouldn’t want to make widely known for other advantage playing related reasons. There is sometimes really good information contained in patents, so feel free to go down the Pace-O-Matic, “Rabbit hole,” and perhaps you’ll also stumble over some of these other patents.

The first thing to note is that these Pace-O-Matic games can most closely be compared to a Class II gaming device.

The way they work is that each game is loaded with a finite number of initial spins and each machine purportedly randomly selects from amongst these initial spins. For the purposes of this article, we will refer to this as the, “Pool of Spins,” or, “Pool.”

Because of the way the Pool works, there should theoretically be a fixed return to operator in the event that all of the games are played straight up WITHOUT doing the Simon Says game. I don’t know how it works if someone is cheating at the Simon Says game in order to nullify every losing spin…which as far as I can tell, could theoretically be done forever even though it would be the most boring activity in the entire Universe.

The Pace-O-Matic machines with which I am acquainted have twelve different games and the following bet amounts:


Which reflects six different bet amounts over twelve games, and therefore, 72 possible game states for these machines. According to the local distributor of these devices, who will go unnamed (by their request) these machines will always come in banks of three in the local area because they are (by necessity) linked to one another. Therefore, a specific location with only one bank will consist of 216 possible game states at any given time.

When one of the games runs out of spins in the pool for a particular title and bet amount, the operator has the option of purchasing more from Pace-O-Matic for them to be loaded onto the machine. If the operator chooses not to do that, then that game/bet amount, or perhaps even the entire game, will become unavailable until they do so.

Aside from the Simon Says game...which I assume Pace-O-Matic is counting on players never to want to cheat (long-term) because it would be insanely boring---the return to player is both fixed and absolute for a particular game and bet amount.

The way Pace-O-Matic achieves this fixed return-to-player is that the amounts lost due to incorrect player decisions are added as, “Bonus pays,” elsewhere. I assume this means that they are randomly allocated to different types of Bonus Games on the machine that are guaranteed to result in a pre-determined amount won for the player. I would also assume that the 5% won from the Simon Says games would be subtracted from some of these bonus pays elsewhere, but again, if a player could theoretically turn every single spin into a 5% win (which, as far as I can tell, the player can) I don’t know how the devices counter that...or if they do.

While we’re on the subject, let’s discuss the Free Games and Bonus Games really quick:

Free Games/Bonus Games

There are different Bonus Games depending on the theme of the game that the player is playing and each game has the potential to also have a, “Free Spins,” result. The Free Spins are the only time that the result will be a, “Natural,” line of all the same symbols as the player DOES NOT place any wilds during the Free Games.

The Bonus Games and some of the Free Games have a component in which the player selects something, destroys spaceships, destroys tanks, has a pirate fire shots at a wheel….etc. etc. etc. in order to determine the amount won or number of Free Games received.

The player’s performance in these games does not actually matter. If the player ignores these prompts completely, then the player will be awarded with a win (or a number of Free Games) that reflects the SAME amount that the player would have received had the player played the game. This is simply part of the internal random choosing of the spin and the spin chosen by the machine wins x amount of money assuming the player makes the optimal decision on the initial play. As with the others, this result is then removed from the results pool.

For academic purposes, I tested this on one game that has the goal of destroying spaceships for thirty seconds by simply refusing to do anything. The time expired and I was awarded an amount at the end of the game, even though I hadn’t destroyed anything.

Anyway, when a player makes a mistake on the initial game, the amount that this mistake costs the player gets added to one of these games which appear to be random, but are not.

Back to Operators

So, Pace-O-Matic essentially guarantees a certain return to operators based on the game type and the amount of results (spins) in the pool for each bet amount. Again, I don’t know how the Simon Says factors into this unless Pace-O-Matic is simply counting on nobody to ever do that.

It’s not worth doing. Don’t try. It sucks.

These Simon Says selections get added one at a time, with the frequent intermissions, as mentioned. Playing this Simon Says game blows all. Other than how fast you repeat the selections, (and you don’t want to go too fast and make an error) the player has ZERO control over the slow ass pace of this game.

Might it be worth doing on the $4.00 bet amount if it could lead to good initial spins in the future?

Maybe. I’m honestly not sure that it does, though. The Anti-Cheating mechanism might simply be that the game itself no longer chooses the spin from the pool randomly, and instead, automatically chooses an initial spin that is either breakeven or loses some sum of money.

Granted, if you COULD still get profitable initial spins despite cheating on the Simon Says game (and you might be able to) then it might be worth doing at the $4.00 bet level. Some of the Free Games and Bonus Games can pay very well relative to the bet amount.

There are also some individual line results that can pay as much as 500x the bet, depending on the game in question, but I would guess that there is probably only one such result per each pool compared to tens of thousands of total results in the pool.


There’s a much more subversive method by which these machines can be cheated.

For each game and bet level, there is a statistics screen that contains all of the information relevant to the prize pool for the game and bet level. I determined this by way of the patent research that I did. Rather than copy what this stat screen would look like exactly, I will provide an example of what such a stat screen may look like.

The first assumption we will make is that we are playing a game at the $4.00 bet level that had 40,000 initial results loaded, an overall return to player of 96% and 34,000 results played with a return on those results of $120,000 paid out.

First, let’s see what the stats screen would have looked like before any of those results were played:

Game & Bet Level Spins Remaining Prizes Awarded
Fruit-4.00 40,000 $0
Prizes Remaining Cost of Remaining Spins Spins Taken
$153,600 $160,000 0

Again, this is NOT exactly what the stat screen looks like, but is a close enough approximation and summarization. (in that it gets rid of information not relevant for our purposes) I also don’t run into any issues with copying/pasting their exact stat screen formatting, but you can find it if you are willing to invest the time into the patent research.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the situation in which the player has played 34,000 spins with total payouts of $120,000:

Game & Bet Level Spins Remaining Prizes Awarded
Fruit-4.00 6,000 $120,000
Prizes Remaining Cost of Remaining Spins Spins Taken
$33,600 $24,000 34,000

As we can see, knowing this information, there are $33,600 in prizes remaining at a total cost of $24,000 in bets. In other words, a GUARANTEED return of 33600/24000 = 140% just by playing all of the remaining spins in that pool straight up.

Granted, this is a much greater advantage than is particularly likely to happen, at least, I would assume. However, any lesser advantage can be partially offset by a player tracking hios/her results (spins taken, bets & payouts) and simply no longer playing when the EV drops back below 100%...which there is a very good chance it will do at some point.

The key to this is that Pace-O-Matic is not the only entity with access to this information. Whatever local distributing company is used MAY have access to it, and certainly the physical location where the machines are located DOES have access to it.

In order to play with a guaranteed win over several spins, all it would take is to be an employee/owner (or know one) with access to these stat screens who could then tell you if the value of the remaining spins is positive.

In most cases, this value will not be positive. For one thing, the return to player is less than 100% in the first place (overall) which of course means that the previous players would have to, “Run bad,” in order for the remaining results of a particular game to be positive. The three machines are also linked by hardwire, so I would assume that they are sharing spins from the same pool. Given that there are twelve games and six different bet levels, there are going to be 72 unique stat screen states per location, or per set of machines.

Moreover, the lower bet amounts (it should come as no surprise) tend to have a worse return-to-player. That being the case, given the reduced initial starting percentage of the spin pool, it’s less likely that the game will ever become positive.

And, actually, you wouldn’t even really need to track all of the individual spins. Going back to our second hypothetical stat screen, if a player was ever showing a profit of more than $9,600, then the player would know that the remaining spins are no longer positive...because that amount represents the final profit if all spins are played.


For Casual Players

Overall, I think that these are fun and engaging games for casual players who might not like all of the hustle and bustle of the casino, or all of the complexities of the most recent generation of slot machines. Of course, the player will have to be fine with the fact that this is an interactive game and that the player will need to make a decision on every single spin.

If the return ranges in the patents are true, then these machines have an overall house edge (or return to player) basically comparable to any slot machines that you would find in a casino.

Aside from the fact that players have to make optimal decisions in order to maximize their returns, they can essentially gamble by playing the next spin without looking ahead of time to see if it is a winner, or alternatively, by intentionally taking a loss so they can see the following puzzle. As much as I hate to do it, it would not be responsible of me not to recommend ALWAYS looking at the next puzzle when you are done playing to see if it is a winner. Could you imagine just leaving a Free Games sitting there for someone to pick up?

In any event, I imagine the fact that this is interactive will be for some and not others. Because of the interaction, it also necessarily has a slower rate of play than your standard casino slot machine--which will also be for some people, but not others.

Aside from the interaction and slower pace of play, there’s not much difference between this game and a relatively uncomplicated slot machine. If forced to make a comparison, this might be closest to something like Yardbirds, or other 3x3 games.

The only real piece of advice that I could give casual players is that most of the games on the Pace-O-Matic machines I have seen have base pays like this:

.25x-.5x-1x-2x-5x-10x-20x-50x-250x-500x (or something like that)

The result is that there are many winning results that win less than your original bet amount. In fact, that’s what most of the wins are, by volume. There are several variations that are actually losing, such as 1-3 lines of the .25x returning result. You can also have just one .5x line, or a .5x line in conjunction with a .25x line. That’s not even to mention all of the possible ways the player can have a breakeven bet.

However, some of the games start the base pays for the lines at .5x being the lowest, which is then followed by 1x. I would probably recommend that casual players play one of these games instead (assuming all else is equal) simply because there will be more variance in the results pool...which you want, if you’re playing a negative expectation game in the first place. You definitely don’t want to be wasting who knows how many spins only getting 25% of your bet back.

For Advantage Players

For MOST advantage players, I would consider this a novelty play.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have potential. If you could find an area with a high concentration of machines that all get a reasonable amount of action, then this could possibly become a pretty good moneymaker for you. You could even perhaps build a route that you hit daily looking for plays if many of these machines get action in the evenings.

There might be some people already doing this, but if there are, I’m not aware of them. I imagine that COVID was probably a hit, if so, and may well continue to result in decreased foot traffic--often by mandate.

The thing is that Advantage Players would need other people to play AND to leave a winning result behind for them to snatch up. One unique feature of these games is that the first screen of any one of the twelve types of games will always be the most recent result--win or lose--regardless of the bet amount. It doesn’t change this with the varying bet amounts...it’s just always the most recent result of any play.

That information can be somewhat useful because, if you know that it has not changed, then you also know that nobody has played that particular game. There is no need to check all of the bet levels. Of course, it’s possible that there was a coincidence...but the same exact result with the same exact symbols and same exact win amount would be a somewhat unique coincidence.

For most advantage players, if this exists at your local general store or gas station, but not at others, then I would select that general store or gas station over others so you could check the machines while you’re there. Again, while some of the results are VERY good relative to the bet amount, most often, expect not to find anything if you’re only occasionally checking one bank of machines. I know the bank of machines closest to me does not get great action, though I have had some pretty decent finds.

In fact, I might even have written it off as not worth checking, but it just happens to be right across the street from somewhere I go almost every day anyway. It probably takes under ten minutes to check all 216 game states; I’ve gotten pretty quick. My hourly on it is definitely very good, even though I find no opportunities most days.

There is also the matter of the stats screen, so if you can work your way in with someone who has access to the stats screen, then you may occasionally get information that can be both very helpful and lucrative.


Pace-O-Matic, as can be expected given their unique position and offering, really wants to distance itself from the word gambling. I’m going to give my arguments both for and against these machines being considered gambling as opposed to skill and then make my final determination. Keep in mind, I am not a legal expert of any kind and this reflects only my opinion as a gambling writer.

Game of Skill

If this is a game of skill at all, then it is certainly not so to the extent that poker is a game of skill. The player has no control over what puzzle will come up next, so there is definitely a strong element of chance as the internal RNG selects for the player one of the results from the remaining pool of spins.

The initial spin result does require some degree of, ‘Skill.’ If there is only one possible way to win, then the player must find that. If there are multiple possible winning lines, then the player has to pick the spot to turn wild that yields the best possible result. Players playing too quickly will probably make mistakes, so to that extent, there is more than zero skill involved.

Players can also play the Simon Says game after any losing result, if they really want to. This requires a pretty good memory to win at consistently, so that component can almost certainly be fairly considered a game of skill.


Most players will not, I assume, play the Simon Says game because it is uniquely boring. More than that, in order to play more than one, or only a few spins, players will eventually have to take (wittingly or unwittingly) a losing result.

The majority of the wins on these games are in results that pay 5x the bet, or less. In fact, it’s possible that the majority of the wins pay 1x the bet, or less, but I’ve not taken a sample size sufficient to make that conclusion.

For all practical purposes, like it or not, the fundamental game is that of a slot machine with a very small amount of skill involved to optimize results...unless one is an advantage player, in which event one would not want to take any losing results. Of course, the ability to literally NEVER lose might contribute to the argument that this is a game of skill.

My Opinion

In my non-legal opinion, I consider this a gambling game as it relates to casual players. Whilst there is a small element of skill, the fundamental game is basically just a slot machine.

For most players, they are risking money on an unknown result in the hopes of monetary gain. That basically checks the main box for gambling.

Casual players should at least treat it as gambling. Play only what you can afford to lose, play responsibly and if you suspect that you or someone you know has a gambling problem, then seek out help for yourself or encourage that person to get help.


I asked Michael Barley of Pace-O-Matic media relations whether or not there are any plans to get into land casinos. Personally, I see no reason why these games should not be in land casinos, particularly in tribal jurisdictions.

The answer that I got from him is that there is no discussion to try to get Pace-O-Matic games, in their current form, into land casinos at this time. Reading between the lines, I would also say that Pace-O-Matic might perceive any attempt to get the current generation of games into land casinos might muddy the waters a bit on calling it a game of skill...despite the fact that casinos now have some electronic games that are based, in part, on skill.

The reason I say, “Particularly in tribal jurisdictions,” is because these essentially operate the same way that Class II, ‘Electronic Bingo,’ games do given the finite pool of possible results. These games, at least in their current form, would not cut the mustard for a Class III jurisdiction because of that results pool...which is to say that they do not choose a truly random result for the initial spins.

So, this would be another tool in the AP toolbox if these could make their way into physical casinos, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Advantage Play and Partial Losses

Some people might make an argument for taking partial losses that would go like this:

If the player takes an intentional loss of $1.00 (75% return of $3.00) on a $4.00 spin in order to see the next puzzle and decide whether or not to play, then based on the fact that the next puzzle has an expected value of 96% ($3.88) the player is intentionally losing 25%, which is $1.00, to see the following puzzle such that the value of seeing it is greater than the $1.00 lost.

The result is that the player is paying $1.00 to see the next puzzle with a value of $3.88, thereby yielding a positive value of $2.88 to see the next puzzle and determine whether or not to play. Certainly, the player will not play if the next puzzle is a losing result.

Where do you stand on this? Personally, I wouldn’t want to take a partially losing result to see the next puzzle, because following the same logic, I would have to take ANOTHER partially losing result--if it came up--to see the puzzle after that and so on.

For my part, I only want to play profitable puzzles or breakeven puzzles in order to see the next puzzle. Although, if I do get a big win (relative to bet amount) I’ll usually take another spin at the $0.40 level (unless the puzzle after the big win---at whatever bet---is another winner) just to get the big win off of the main screen.


In conclusion, I think these games can be a fun diversion for those who enjoy slot machines, particularly if they are not near a casino or if the hustle and bustle of regional casinos is a little much for them. The majority of the games are the same thing with different skins, (and even one set of three games and another of two games is basically the same theme) but casual players may find something they enjoy.

In terms of the distribution of results, these games (playing straight up) play pretty similarly to a penny or other low denomination slot machine.

For most advantage players, this is going to be a novelty play if they find them at all. Again, if a gas station had these (all else equal) then I would get my gas there just because it would maybe give me the opportunity to make some money and my car is going to need gas anyway.

There may be strong potential for advantage players located in an area with a high concentration of these machines, if they get a fair amount of action, who can build a route accordingly. That is definitely not my experience as, with very limited checking elsewhere, I’ve only seen them in one place. Of course, the places most likely to have a set (I would guess) are bars...and most of the bars around me are still closed due to COVID. Not profitable for them to operate at the capacity they are limited to.

Originally, I was going to have a full-length interview with Michael Barley, which was scheduled...but then he had to change that schedule and my calls have since went unreturned, so I gave up. I also had a few questions for the tech department at Pace-O-Matic…mostly related to what would prevent someone from cheating at the Simon Says game for an infinite guaranteed return, but I never heard back from them at all.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this breakdown of the Pace-O-Matic skill games. Please put any observations in the comments, or ask any questions you may have and they will be answered. I may even do a follow-up article, at some point, though I basically covered it. There will be a follow-up if the interview ever materializes.


Mission146 Jul 10, 2021

CORRECTIONS: (July, 2021)

1.) The distributor was wrong or misunderstood my question about all banks being banks of three machines. Some locations only have one machine and others have more than three.

2.) There have been reports of people who find the profits of the Simon Says exploit to be worth the time involved. I retract my opinion that it might only lead to losing spins (which isn't true), but like I said, it was just an opinion that was based on a limited sample size of attempts.

marty19067 Nov 01, 2022

Hello Mission146, I have a few questions and maybe you can educate me.
1) Can you have multiple RNGs in a single stand alone game (Re: Pace O Matic)?
2) Can a single RNG be programmed to do multiple functions?
(Such as pick the next puzzle and control grand prize and/or anti cheat algorithm as you mention in this article)

Mission146 Nov 01, 2022


1.) The answer to this question must be yes because the different bet amounts are capable of having different return percentages. It's also not an RNG in the slot machine sense of the word. Keep in mind that these machines are all, 'Seeded,' with winning or losing puzzles already, so when the machine selects the next puzzle it is just randomly choosing one from the batch.

Some have also argued that this process is not even entirely random, but I have seen no evidence supporting that.

2.) I don't really understand the question, but it wouldn't apply to these anyway. With the Skill Games, the RNG for Pace-O-Matics isn't choosing what symbols will appear (this has already been decided for every puzzle) but it just selecting one of the remaining available puzzles.

The only ways for the machine to cheat if someone was playing the Simon Says feature would be that it switches to intentionally make sure every puzzle is a losing one. There's honestly no other way to cheat there.

As far as the top prize is concerned, each game only has one top prize for each seeded pool of results. As a direct consequence, if the top prize hits early in the cycle, then the progressive amount will continue to accrue even though that result is no longer possible to hit. I don't know whether or not you would strictly consider that cheating, though.

marty19067 Nov 01, 2022

Thanks for the reply!
If I understand, multiple RNGs can be used in Pace games?
Do you know how the "anti-cheat" algorithm functions?

Mission146 Nov 01, 2022

I don't know how the anti-cheat algorithm functions.

You would only need one RNG because the RNG is responsible only for randomly choosing a puzzle from the applicable puzzle pool based on the bet amount and what game it is. IOW, the RNG does not, 'Create,' a puzzle; it only picks from the puzzles that are already loaded.

marty19067 Nov 01, 2022

Mission, bear with me.
In your original answer you say multiple RNGs are used for different payouts of the different games used?
It seems to me the only variable is the grand prize, that can be altered from $2500 to upwards of #10,000.00.
Does an RNG determine the amount awarded for the grand prize?
Can that be manipulated with the so-called anti cheat feature?

marty19067 Nov 01, 2022

Is it possible that a second RNG kicks in and limits the reward amounts to disadvantage better players under the guise of an anti cheat algorithm?
.25x-.5x-1x-2x-5x-10x-20x-50x-250x-500x (or something like that) (Your payout assumptions)
Just trying to understand how this works.

Mission146 Nov 01, 2022

The payouts are based on whether or not it is a progressive as well as the puzzles that the different bet amounts are seeded with. If you play through all puzzles for a given game/denomination, then only one result is possible (assuming you don't play the follow me) as the results are fixed. The only purpose the RNG serves is choosing a puzzle from the applicable set for the game and bet amount.

The only thing that determines the top prize amount on PoM is whatever the progressive has been driven up to. Of course, if that top prize winning puzzle has already been out for that set of results, then it is no longer possible to hit sometimes because the puzzle is gone.

Also, not all PoM machines have the top prize (or top two prizes) as progressives.

marty19067 Nov 01, 2022

Can I assume that you are aware that POM games have routers and internet connectivity?
Can I also assume that you are aware that there are at least (5) other versions on locations that do not have the electronic signature adjudicated in the Beaver County Court ruling that covered the original (3) games?
They have downloaded up to (12) additional games with a "rapid" feature that allows a player to spin till they win
That being said, it is evident that POM is downloading whatever they choose, whenever they choose.
It also appears that the hold is significantly higher to the locations.
Common sense says that a $10,000.00 grand prize must be funded by losers.
Your opinion?

Mission146 Nov 01, 2022

You can assume the first thing.

You can't assume the second thing, but I do know that there are different versions of PoM machines, but I wouldn't have known the precise number.

Yes, actually, some machines actually have 13 games. I might not have the titles right, but amongst them are an Irish-themed game, Livin' Large, Gem Master, Pirates, Periwinkle, House of Voodoo, Under the Mountain, 50's Themed Game, Lucky Liberty, Banditos (or something), Wild Beasts, the other Spanish/Mexican-themed game, Reapers Wild, Graveyard game and Military-themed game. That's 13, right? 14, actually. There might even be an extra game or two I am forgetting.

Yes, the hold percentage can vary by location and by machine. Do keep in mind this article is over two years old and I have written several others on this subject.

I agree that the $10,000 prize is funded by players. I would also point out that the $10,000 prize on a given game/machine (if new spins have not been added to the spin pool) might not even be possible on a specific play as the corresponding top prize puzzle may have already been hit for the set of spins presently on the machine.

Mission146 Nov 01, 2022

Actually, that was fifteen games I listed. I still feel like I might even be missing one.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

Years ago I played the original game adjudicated in Beaver with only (3) games.
Since then I have not played any POM games and will rely on your analysis.
I believe you are PA based and so am I.
I have been actively following all the court actions that pertain to POM games.
The bottom line for me; the only presumptively legal game is the one adjudicated in Beaver.
The rest, until adjudicated, remail illegal in my opinion.
The internet connectivity, in my opinion, is a license to steal that permits instant changes to alter player parameters.
When operators request a higher grand prize amount the terminal is checked over the internet for win & lose player history and adjusted accordingly.
I personally believe their hold percentage is very high, just my opinion.

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022


The thing to understand is that this article (and the others) are written very much from an advantage player point of view.

As far as the presumptively legal Beaver County ones, even that ruling would only strictly apply in Beaver County, so if other counties felt differently, then they could take action. In fact, some counties have taken action, but that's usually in rare cases where a place is being particularly egregious and advertising itself as a, 'Casino.' I've also seen a few places close that existed ONLY for the purpose of having skill games, but I don't know whether or not those closures were forced.

I'm aware of one place that just has five machines (each with five games) and a redemption machine. There's also a bathroom, but that's it! No employees, no food, just a room with a few cameras, a TV, a couch (why?) five machines, chairs and a redemption machine. There's also a piece of paper to call if the redemption machine fails to pay you.

My only real concern would be if someone successfully completed the Simon Says and did not get 105% of the bet amount. I don't actually play that myself because I think it's insanely boring and not worth the time. My only other concern would be if the Next Puzzle is showing that it is going to be a winner, but then when you play, it's a different puzzle that is losing, which has never happened.

The machines could be expressly illegal and I'd have no reason to care as long as I can make money on them. I suppose that I worry a little about other players, but if everyone took my advice and ONLY played when the next puzzle is profitable, then eventually, there would be no more profitable next puzzles and nobody would ever play the machines again.

I don't know if they can remotely change the return percentage on a particular unit. According to someone I spoke to (off the record) from Miele, they cannot. That said, you are correct that not all of the machines are set in the high-80's, which I also discovered from talking to the guy who was working on some machines at a location that I will not disclose. I don't know what the highest hold percentage is as an absolute fact, but if the guy I spoke to is to be believed, then it is never higher than 25%, which believe it or not, would be legally okay for a slot machine in Nevada!

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

Miele has no control over programming and any alterations of the games.
However, since Miele and POM are partners, the greed factor is in play.
There is testimony by Dr. Peter Zaleski on Senate Bill 1256 in October of 2020, where he states,
"Our estimate for state tax revenue in 2021 is close to $50 million, assuming the current Covid-19-related restrictions continue throughout next year, and up to $80 million if the economy fully reopens. Beyond that, we estimate a steady -state tax annual revenue stream of over $100 million"
We are talking about $1 million dollars a week in TAXES in 2020, and estimate $2 million dollars a week in TAXES presumably from Miele & POM.
How much is being made if they are paying those amounts in taxes!

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022


If you say they don't, then they don't. The guy from Miele directly told me they did. He certainly had access to a great many aspects of the machine because I watched him do some stuff with it. Funny enough, he couldn't discern what a few things meant and I explained them to him.

Right now, the Pennsylvania corporate income tax rate is 9.99% (scheduled to drop slightly over the next several years and eventually reach 4.99%) so I don't know if they are talking about income tax, sales tax (if it counts as a sale of something) or both combined. If they just mean state corporate income tax, then that would be total profits of one billion, or so, dollars. If they are referring to the 7% PA sales tax, then you're at about 1.4286B in REVENUE (not profits). I can't imagine that they would be paying sales tax on all revenues though.

They might also be talking about taxes at all levels, as in, the taxes they pay and the taxes that the individual locations, in theory, would pay on their revenues from the machines. He just says taxes, so I don't know what that means. I imagine the vagueness was intentional.

If he's talking about total taxes paid to the state, then I have no idea.

Other than my interview with the guys from Banilla Games, I really didn't spent a lot of time looking at the business behind it because that's irrelevant to whether or not myself and other players make money.

That said, you seem to have throughly researched all of this, so feel free to send me a PM and we can discuss perhaps co-writing an article if that would be something you are interested in. I would pay you half of what I make on it and do all of the typing. Mainly, I would just need to do an outline of it with you, you send me some links to some things and then I'd talk to you on the phone for a bit just to make sure we're on the same page with what we want to say.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

I get your perspective on the POM games from the perspective of the player, advantaged or non-advantaged.
That was the reason I asked about multiple RNGs in a game; I know initially they only select the puzzles.
However, additional RNGs could be programmed to do additional functions.
For example, alter player parameters, control grand prize awards and other bonus functions relative to player interactions (win & lose history).
It seems to me that 99% of players are contributing to the tax fund, just my opinion.
I appreciate the offer to participate however, I must respectfully decline for my own reasons.
I will keep you posted on any other relevant updates that I discover in my following of this matter.

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022


Here's the thing: I don't understand what you mean when you use the term, 'RNG.'

For example, a slot machine's RNG, in a casino, selects numbers randomly for each reel that correspond to a particular symbol (this statement is grossly generalized, btw) and then the appropriate symbol appears on that reel for that spin. Pace-O-Matics do not operate this way. The puzzles are pre-determined and then they are loaded as, 'Pools,' of spins, so then the player spins and the RNG selects the, "Next Puzzle." The machine does NOT randomly generate the puzzles; it chooses from a pool of available puzzles that have already been, 'Generated,' for lack of a better term.

You can know this because, if it weren't true, then conflicts would randomly appear on winning lines. By, 'Conflict,' I mean that it would randomly happen that you could win multiple ways, but not all of those ways simultaneously. If there are ever multiple ways to win on a PoM, then you will be able to place the WILD such that you simultaneously get every possible win.

I guess it could do all of the other stuff you're saying, but I have no idea why it would want to. The house edge is large enough on these devices and they're unregulated anyway...so do you really need to cheat beyond the fact that you already could be repping a top prize that is no longer possible to actually hit? (That, by the way, is one thing casinos absolutely could NOT legally do)

I also want to add that I'm not exactly sympathetic to the plight of the state lottery or that of the casinos.

State lottery because I hate the concept of state lotteries. I wish they would lose ALL of their revenues to PoM, not that they're losing any of them. Besides, look at WV, IL, OR, MT, NV...the answer is right there in the state of Pennsylvania's face: if you want to boost lottery revenues, then just do state Limited VLT everywhere. If they did Limited VLT the way West Virginia does, I guarantee you, Pace-O-Matic machines wouldn't last one more year in the state. Even the guy from Banilla admitted as much if you haven't read that yet.

The casinos I don't care because, if someone prefers a gas station to your casino, then your casino just needs to do better. lol

Okay, I appreciate any updates, but I won't necessarily respond every time. If you ever do want to work on an article together as to the business end of these things, then just let me know.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

An RNG can do anything it is programmed to do making selections from the designated database.
The PA lottery is a perfect example, all the available numbers are preloaded, that is their database.
If POM games used a designated database with less than optimal multiples for payouts and used a smaller database, for example, eliminating the higher multiples, the RNG would randomly select a smaller multiple from the pool.
Bear in mind that with internet connectivity today's game could be altered anyway POM chooses to do so. Tomorrow's game could be significantly different.
The only way to know is to examine the POM server to see the changes logged, mandatory for casino games.
On a casino game, when you hit the bet button, your fate is sealed, the RNG has already selected the outcome.
I agree VLTs would level the playing field if available almost everywhere.
That is why I asked the question about multiple RNGs.
To answer another point you made, greed knows no limits especially in an environment where there is a possibility it could end at any time based on a judge that sees thing differently.

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022

Okay, so you're saying that the RNG could be configured to deliberately select losing puzzles based on recent play, or something to that effect? Sure, I suppose, but that wouldn't really be random anymore. I guess if you have certain numbers that represent losing puzzles it would still TECHNICALLY be choosing one of those numbers...maybe?

As far as examining the server goes, how often do you think that actually happens in casinos? That might be what's legally required, but if you have ever had a job or observed people who have jobs, you will notice that they often don't do them or do them to the barest extent.

I take your last point, but again, the only thing relevant to any advantage player is that the Simon Says game not cheat and the Next Puzzle be what the machine says it's going to be. For my purposes, they could return 10% (house edge 90%) and it wouldn't matter to me other than I would find fewer winning puzzles.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

Have you ever heard of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement? (NJDGE)
Their mission in life is to find violations and issue fines accordingly.
A task they do very successfully
I would expect the PA Gaming Control Board Lab periodically checks casinos, not casino personnel.

There is another agency, the New Jersey Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission (NJLGCCC)
They visit arcades periodically, open and examine games, check electronic signatures and issue violations and penalties for non-compliance with certificates of permissibility.
Another agency that lives to find violations!
I agree there is no agency in PA comparable to the NJLGCCC; perhaps there should be!

There is no argument the basic RNG selects the puzzle, I accept that premise.
I believe they have far greater uses and possibilities, just my opinion.

The solution to this POM conundrum is simple:
Either return all games to the Beaver County adjudicated version, OR
Submit any version you choose to a court, present your evidence, expert report, expert witness and whatever else you wish; lose the internet connectivity, verify version number on start-up, State Police to verify.
If you change version number or electronic signature, the process starts all over again.
Makes perfect sense to me and protects the consumers.

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022


That's funny; I'd have thought their mission in life was to do nothing about slot tickets being wrongfully confiscated from advantage players. They seem really good at that, in my experience.

The, "Beaver County adjudicated version," is irrelevant outside of Beaver County as it is. I guess you could maybe report that PoM is operating machines that are not in the exact specification as what Beaver County ruled, but my assumption would be that Beaver County would simply say that those variations are also, "Presumptively legal," for the same reasons. If they all have, "Next Puzzle," player decision influencing results and the Simon Says, then they correspond with the very things that led to Beaver County deciding that way in the first place.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

I was unaware that NJ polices slots with the same veracity as table games.
I guess that once you make "the book" you can cross AC off your visit list.
Do they do that in PA as well?
But I digress,

Most electronic games, casino or redemption games submit their game for testing by a certified testing lab, State or private.
The lab tests the game, issue a report and develop an electronic signature specific to that particular game and version.
Any change to that electronic signature voids the previous testing and if you seek approval, a new test is required
The POM situation is akin to "bait & switch" in my opinion; one "presumptively legal" adjudication does not mean all.

In POMs case, every game, in every terminal, needs to be tested; for most, a pricey proposition.
For POM, simply a cost of doing business especially compared to their legal fees.

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022


I've never had a slot ticket wrongfully confiscated in PA. Even when the casino that I'd already been trespassed from trespassed me again, (though they were under different ownership and so I shouldn't have still been banned) they let me cash my ticket before leaving.

The PoM's are not tested because, as you point out, they are not regulated. Even if they were regulated, they wouldn't necessarily need to be tested, unless you outlined the guidelines for testing in those hypothetical regulations.

Anyway, you seem to be anti-PoM, may I ask why? I don't know that getting the Government involved in things necessarily makes those things better. When it comes to gambling, it usually just means the Government gets more money out of the deal than entities just paying their income taxes when they are profitable. Are PoM machines a scourge? I guess arguably so. In my opinion, so are state lotteries. At least the PoM's are such that winning is the only possible outcome if players only play winning puzzles.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

POM games were tested before they were presented to the Beaver County court, had an expert report, an expert witness and had their unique electronic signature disclosed.
I attempted to get the expert report and transcript but was denied by the court unless I appeared in person, filed a request and awaited a decision by the judge; a four-hundred-mile trip that would probably result in a denial.

I have my own reasons for my seemingly anti POM stance.

Mission146 Nov 02, 2022

I'm much closer than you are. If you want to call again and figure out whether or not (or how much) there are any fees associated with this, then I will do it for you at no cost if you cover the fees. If they do provide me the materials, you will also have to cover the costs for me to ship them to you.

marty19067 Nov 02, 2022

Can do, tell me how to make it happen.
Want my email or cell?

One other question, have you played the "rapid" games?
The spin till you win?
If so, do you forfeit your bet when you use this rapid play?

marty19067 Nov 03, 2022

I sent you my contact info.
Let's see if the power of the press has any stroke in Beaver!
FOIA request?
Thanks again,

Mission146 Nov 03, 2022

Easy enough. We will discuss it privately, at some point. Just to be clear, I'm not exactly in a hurry to do it today, or anything, but next time I'm sort of up that way I will do it.

I don't know what you mean by, "Spin until you win." If you are referring to the fact that you can spin without choosing anything when a win is impossible, then that is the way most Pace-O-Matic machines that I have seen work. That doesn't eliminate the player's option to choose something, which they MIGHT have to if they wish to play the Simon Says game. They do forfeit the bet if they just keep spinning until they hit upon a winning puzzle---assuming they don't play the Simon Says game.

If you are referring to the skill games that don't even have an element of choice, then I don't make a habit of playing those other than to check the ones with, "Prize Viewer," and those are not Pace O Matics anyway.

I'm not the press and hopefully this can be done without invoking any legalities. It sounded like they just wanted you to make the request in person, so hopefully that's all there is to it.

marty19067 Nov 03, 2022

Understood, please keep me posted
Thanks, Marty

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