Mission146
Posted by Mission146
Aug 20, 2020

Introduction

“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:

PACE-O-MATIC SKILL MACHINES AND ‘NORMAL’ PLAY

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.

WHAT MAKES THIS A GAME OF SKILL/HOW DOES IT WORK?

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.

4.) REALLY, TAKE YOUR TIME!!!

-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:

$0.40-$0.80-$1.20-$1.60-$2.00-$4.00

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.

MORE CHEATING!!!

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.

BRANDON JAMES’ OPINION ON THE GAMES

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.

IS IT GAMBLING OR SKILL?

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.

Gambling

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.

APPLICATION TO CASINOS

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

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