Wizard

Joined: Oct 14, 2009
• Posts: 23733
August 4th, 2011 at 12:28:06 PM permalink
Community, or group, bonuses is a popular new concept in slot machines. Briefly, the way it works is a number of slot machines, typically four to eight, will all be awarded the same bonus at the same time. The results of said bonus are usually shown on a large video screen above the machines. An exception might be the enormous Wheel of Fortune community bonus machines where an enormous wheel sits between each individual machine.

The generalities I'm about to give do not necessarily apply to every community bonus machine. I am speaking specifically about IGT machines, more specifically American Idol, and even more specifically the installation at the Red Rock casino.

It would be unfair if there were two players in a bank of community bonus machines, and one was betting \$1 a minute, and one was betting \$10 a minute, if they both had the same expected value in the community bonus. To avoid such injustice a multiplier is applied to the final bonus win roughly according to the amount the individual player was betting per second at the time the bonus was initiated.

Confused yet? It gets worse. Let me try to explain how the games determine this multiplier.

1. The game keeps track of the players 40 seconds of betting activity for each player in the form of a queue.
2. For each 20 cents the player bets at one time it buys him 10 seconds of 1x multipliers. So, a \$1 bet would buy 10 seconds of 5x multipliers. This multiplier is added to the end of the player's queue.
3. The game can remember only 40 seconds of multipliers. If the player plays at a faster rate than one bet per ten seconds, causing there to not be enough space in the queue to add 10 seconds of multipliers, then it will cram any excess multipliers into the last second.

For example, if the player has 35 seconds of multipliers in his queue, and he makes a \$1 bet, then it will put a 5x multiplier in four of the five of the empty seconds. At this point it will still owe the player a 5x multiplier for six seconds. Because it has only one second left, it will crams six seconds of 5x in one second, or one second of 30x.
4. At any given microsecond, except if a community bonus is already in progress, there is a fixed probability that the bonus will be triggered. So the time between bonuses would follow an exponential distribution. In other words, a bonus has a memoryless property and is never overdue, much like a royal flush in video poker.
5. As the player plays it will drop off from the stack the highest multipliers in the queue. Kind of like how in a queue for a Vegas nightclub it doesn't matter your position in line for girls, but how hot you are, the hottest girls removed from the queue first.
6. As multipliers are dropped off the queue they are also the eligible multiplier should the community bonus be triggered at that moment. In the example above, if the community bonus were hit within one second of the \$1 bet the player would have a 30x multiplier, assuming no higher multipliers in the queue.

That is about it. Let me know if you can shed any additional light. I'm also open to questions if anything was unclear.

One thing I would like to determine is the average time between bonuses. I am hoping to get a friend to play the Red Rock game for two hours or so to get an estimate.

Finally, here are some pictures of the machine and pertinent rule screens. Click on any image for a larger version.

Image 1

In the picture above the player has earned 19 seconds of multipliers. All we know about them is the highest one is 2x. If the bonus were to hit at the moment the picture was taken my base bonus win would be multiplied by 2.

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

Image 6

Image 7
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
rdw4potus
Joined: Mar 11, 2010
• Posts: 7237
August 4th, 2011 at 12:51:00 PM permalink
On Thursday, 6/16/11, I played the installation of this game at Sunset Station for about 2 hours from 6:45 to 8:45 pm while waiting for the 9pm bingo session (the game is about 30 feet from the bingo hall's door). During that time, there were 6 call-in bonuses and 8 audition bonuses. I never got through the first part of the audition bonus. Betting the minimum, my highest multiplier was 8x, and my lowest was 1x.

I think one thing you're missing, and I don't know how it works, is the community bonus sweetener that occurs immediately after the single-machine bonus is triggered. It's as though the machine compensates for the lack of player wagering during the single-machine bonus by increasing the multiplier at the onset of the single-machine bonus. That's how my 8x multiplier was triggered during my game.
"So as the clock ticked and the day passed, opportunity met preparation, and luck happened." - Maurice Clarett
Ayecarumba
Joined: Nov 17, 2009
• Posts: 6763
August 4th, 2011 at 12:57:59 PM permalink
Wow, that's pretty complicated.

Some questions:

1) Do you have to play a minimum number of coins to participate in the group bonus?

2) I don't expect the bonus multipliers to be available to new players who join the game after it is triggered. However, more bonuses can be triggered during the initial bonus spin. Does this mean that a new player is completely locked out until the initial bonus, and any subsequently spawned bonuses, are complete? If so, should a new player be advised to not join a game if a bonus is in progress, or should they still try to get their "ugliness" in the queue?

I watched something similar with the "Wizard of Oz" game at South Point where players received bonus spins, seemingly at random. However, all the active machines when the bonus was triggered entered the bonus mode at the same time. It played out like a slot tournament, where players simply kept spinning and adding to their little piles of credits until the time ran out. Then the main screen announced who got what as bonuses. It seemed pretty popular, but it could be that the volume on the machine was set so high that it would draw a crowd.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
PerpetualNewbie
Joined: Nov 30, 2009
• Posts: 88
August 4th, 2011 at 1:30:55 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

3. The game can remember only 40 seconds of multipliers. If the player plays at a faster rate than one bet per ten seconds, causing there to not be enough space in the queue to add 10 seconds of multipliers, then it will cram any excess multipliers into the last second.

For example, if the player has 35 seconds of multipliers in his queue, and he makes a \$1 bet, then it will put a 5x multiplier in four of the five of the empty seconds. At this point it will still owe the player a 5x multiplier for six seconds. Because it has only one second left, it will crams six seconds of 5x in one second, or one second of 30x.

To an advantage-type player, this seems counter-intuitive on two fronts.

Firstly, it seems like this is exploitable. That, by timing bets, one could systematically extract more value (increased multiplier) for short periods of time

Secondly, if it is exploitable, it is exploitable by the slowing down of bets. This is antithetical to what a casino would want. They offer 100+% VP because most folks don't have the time (or bankroll) to withstand runs of negative variance and it requires textbook-perfect play over hours (difficult/impossible) to get that high of a return. And because the return is so slight, the only way it's usefully exploitable is through volume.

While the perfect play isn't applicable to a slot, the last thing the casino would want is for someone to hit the button and start counting "1, 2, 3, 4, 5," hit the button again and count. It slows down play for that machine and if anyone else asked the counter why they play that way, it might start to catch on, lowering coin-in on those particular machines.
CrystalMath
Joined: May 10, 2011
• Posts: 1907
August 4th, 2011 at 1:45:13 PM permalink
When I used to do regulatory approvals, IGT submitted their first community bonus game, Ancient Chinese Secret. I loved the game, because I discovered how to take advantage of the timing and betting, and we joked that there would be a MIT Ancient Chinese Secret team. IGT withdrew the submission and resubmitted with some modified rules to minimize any advantage. Given the changes made, someone could improve their payback, but never have a +EV game.

Given that first submission, every following submission had increased scrutiny, so I suspect that this game will probably never pay more than 100%. Of course, they don't have me testing it, so who knows.
I heart Crystal Math.
Wizard

Joined: Oct 14, 2009
• Posts: 23733
August 4th, 2011 at 3:23:07 PM permalink
Good responses, thanks. Let me try to catch up...

Quote: rdw4potus

On Thursday, 6/16/11, I played the installation of this game at Sunset Station for about 2 hours from 6:45 to 8:45 pm while waiting for the 9pm bingo session (the game is about 30 feet from the bingo hall's door). During that time, there were 6 call-in bonuses and 8 audition bonuses. I never got through the first part of the audition bonus. Betting the minimum, my highest multiplier was 8x, and my lowest was 1x.

What are the odds you would have exactly the information I need? Not to doubt you, but why were you counting the bonuses? Based on your sample, this would suggest the average time between bonuses is 7.5 minutes. I think I've played the audition bonus three times and advanced one of them.

Quote: rdw4potus

I think one thing you're missing, and I don't know how it works, is the community bonus sweetener that occurs immediately after the single-machine bonus is triggered. It's as though the machine compensates for the lack of player wagering during the single-machine bonus by increasing the multiplier at the onset of the single-machine bonus. That's how my 8x multiplier was triggered during my game.

The rule screens address that. They say they give the player 60 seconds of multipliers for the local "judges pick" bonus. I imagine it is at the same multiplier at the time the player wins the local bonus. You can see this from image 4 in my OP, which I just numbered. Image 5, which I just added, says that after the local bonus is finished any time in the queue above 40 seconds will be redistributed among the remaining 40 seconds. It does not say how.

Quote: Ayecarumba

Do you have to play a minimum number of coins to participate in the group bonus?

20¢.

Quote: Ayecarumba

I don't expect the bonus multipliers to be available to new players who join the game after it is triggered. However, more bonuses can be triggered during the initial bonus spin. Does this mean that a new player is completely locked out until the initial bonus, and any subsequently spawned bonuses, are complete? If so, should a new player be advised to not join a game if a bonus is in progress, or should they still try to get their "ugliness" in the queue?

Good question. It may be that you can't play at all if a community bonus is in progress. I'll try to answer that my next visit to the Red Rock, if nobody else is able to answer it.

Quote: PerpetualNewbie

To an advantage-type player, this seems counter-intuitive on two fronts...

I'm not following your theory. I can't think of a way to exploit it, but maybe you're seeing something I'm not. Can you try to rephrase?

Quote: CrystalMath

Given that first submission, every following submission had increased scrutiny, so I suspect that this game will probably never pay more than 100%. Of course, they don't have me testing it, so who knows.

I'd be very interested in any thoughts on how to increase the return even a little bit. I'd also be interested in the loophole in the Ancient Chinese Game, but I would imagine you can't discuss it in public.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
rdw4potus
Joined: Mar 11, 2010
• Posts: 7237
August 4th, 2011 at 8:25:33 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

What are the odds you would have exactly the information I need? Not to doubt you, but why were you counting the bonuses? Based on your sample, this would suggest the average time between bonuses is 7.5 minutes. I think I've played the audition bonus three times and advanced one of them.

It was a pretty remarkable distribution, and I was comiserating with the guy next to me who was waiting for his wife to finish the 7pm bingo session. Then the 3 of us played for about half an hour together. Without advancing, the Audition bonus doesn't really pay much at all (I've never advanced, but I assume that is MUCH better...). A=Audition, C=Callin. Bonuses came: AAACAACAAACCCC. The guy was getting pretty damn pissy when the count was 7-2 for the audition bonuses. I'm kind of glad his wife came when she did, because she really calmed him down. She was pretty damn annoying, though.

I'm not saying this is all the data you need. It's the wrong casino, among other things. But more data is rarely a bad thing to have.

Quote: Wizard

The rule screens address that. They say they give the player 60 seconds of multipliers for the local "judges pick" bonus. I imagine it is at the same multiplier at the time the player wins the local bonus. You can see this from image 4 in my OP, which I just numbered. Image 5, which I just added, says that after the local bonus is finished any time in the queue above 40 seconds will be redistributed among the remaining 40 seconds. It does not say how.

I can tell you with certainty that it is not at the same multiplier as the player had at the time they won the local bonus. The local bonus starts with a multiplier that is higher than the player had at the time it's triggered. Quite simply, there's no way to build enough credit to get an 8x multiplier with a minimum bet, but I was at that level after I triggered the local bonus (during the local bonus, it decays rapidly).
"So as the clock ticked and the day passed, opportunity met preparation, and luck happened." - Maurice Clarett
Tiltpoul
Joined: May 5, 2010
• Posts: 1573
August 4th, 2011 at 9:14:03 PM permalink
Quote: PerpetualNewbie

To an advantage-type player, this seems counter-intuitive on two fronts.

Firstly, it seems like this is exploitable. That, by timing bets, one could systematically extract more value (increased multiplier) for short periods of time

Secondly, if it is exploitable, it is exploitable by the slowing down of bets. This is antithetical to what a casino would want. They offer 100+% VP because most folks don't have the time (or bankroll) to withstand runs of negative variance and it requires textbook-perfect play over hours (difficult/impossible) to get that high of a return. And because the return is so slight, the only way it's usefully exploitable is through volume.

While the perfect play isn't applicable to a slot, the last thing the casino would want is for someone to hit the button and start counting "1, 2, 3, 4, 5," hit the button again and count. It slows down play for that machine and if anyone else asked the counter why they play that way, it might start to catch on, lowering coin-in on those particular machines.

Getting to the Wiz's point, exploitable probably isn't the right word. However, a keen slot player will do the countdown thing to maximize the multiplier. While I haven't played the American Idol game specifically, I have played Community bonuses on Monopoly games (if I play slots, it's either Monopoly-based or S&H Green Stamps, b/c I love the theme song when you get the bonus.) On the Monopoly games, if you count out your bets, you CAN maximize the multiplier. It takes some discipline (something most slot players do NOT have), but with good timing you can make the most out of it.

To the second point brought up, there is some irony that the coin-in could be lower because of slower play. However, I don't think the casinos worry too much about this for three reasons.
1) Community bonuses generally pay out at a lower rate than an individual bonus. The multiplier comes into effect, but even at 8x, it's hard to make a serious killing on a community bonus (at least that's my experience in watching them).
2) As I mentioned before, most slot players are not "Advantage Players," and would rather hit the buttons quickly to try to make a buck on the actual machine.
3) My guess is that the hold on the machine is so incredibly low (being pennies in most cases), that even anybody who could try to exploit a flaw wouldn't be able to do it at much profit.

Although I didn't play AI when I was in Vegas, I did watch a few, and they are definitely appealing. For fans of the show (and walk-bys) it's a lot of fun to see the contestants singing and all the numbers flashing.
"One out of every four people are [morons]"- Kyle, South Park
sdbravo
Joined: Aug 22, 2011
• Posts: 1
August 22nd, 2011 at 8:02:36 PM permalink
On WMS community gaming machines, if you begin playing during a community bonus round, you are eligible to receive "Mystery Bonus Prizes" where the machine will suddenly award credits based on your bet and a certain multiplier.

Playing fast on these machines lowers your expectation because while your multipliers increase, there is so much return tied into the community bonus rounds, that you can't "wait out" the community bonuses and you lose your money faster.

Playing slow can benefit you, except that your multipliers are very low. If you slow play the machines, you have a better chance of waiting for the bonus rounds, but your multiplier decreases the longer you wait to respin. Without a multiplier, it would be difficult to get any kind of advantage on these machines because the bonus rounds pay so little that you'd be slow playing for maybe a few dollars per hour.
winmonkeyspit3
Joined: Dec 30, 2011