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Tickets for Tracking Players in Casinos?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the as-if-gambling-wasn't-tricky-enough-already dept.

Privacy 157

aws910 asks: "I was in Las Vegas recently, and I noticed that most machines now give barcoded tickets as payment instead of coins. These tickets can then be used in other machines as a wager instead of paper money. A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds. With the ticket system, It seems all too easy for someone to build a system to track a player from one machine to another, giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge. If a machine knows how much you've already won as soon as you sit down, do you think it will give you good odds? I couldn't find any articles on it. What does Slashdot think about this?"

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Its called "Lost Wages"... (0, Flamebait)

magores (208594) | more than 10 years ago | (#7150989)

for a reason

Re:Its called "Lost Wages"... (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152856)

Why would they care who wins and who doesn't?

Re:Its called "Lost Wages"... (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152944)

I am surprised nobody has figured it out - I read this thread top to bottom and nobody has suggested INCOME TAXES.

Why do you think unregulated gambling is illegal in the first place? As if the government could give a damn about morals and values - they just get their panties in a twist if they don't get their 39.6% of anything over $80,000 a year in the form of income taxes.

With the universally accepted gambling chips as an unregulated new currency (you can even leave them in the donation basket in a Las Vegas church) things got pretty much out of hand, but if you think you are going to get $9,350 in cash for that paper ticket on a major slot payout and it is going to go unreported ... between the rewards cards knowing exactly who you are and the new fun paper bar code scanners - hell why don't they just tatoo a GUID on your forearm or embed you with a RFID.

Al Capone did not go to jail for killing a bunch of people, or selling bootleg booze, or for being a mobster. Al Capone went to jail for not paying 39.6% (of the proceeds he earned killing people and selling bootleg booze and being a mobster) to the IRS.

Re:Its called "Lost Wages"... (1)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154012)

With the universally accepted gambling chips as an unregulated new currency (you can even leave them in the donation basket in a Las Vegas church)

Whoa, mister... you might want to double check your legal facts before you start misquoting things.

After a problem with some counterfeit chips several years back they passed a law in Nevada that it is illegal to use gambling tokens (AKA chips) as currency and they are not to be legally taken out of casinos. Casinos don't mind if you walk off with chips because the chips cost far less than they worth.

Legally you aren't supposed to use chips from one casino at another, but if they casinos are owned by the same corporation (i.e., you can use Circus Circus chips at the Luxor, Excalibur, etc. and vice versa) they will usually allow it, but they are not required to.

Yes, there are people who leave them in church collection baskets, but that doesn't make it legal, nor does it make them unregulated currency.

Does it matter? (0, Flamebait)

Pathwalker (103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7150998)

If you are playing slots in a casino, it is because you feel you have too much money, and want to get rid of it as fast as possible, while gaining no benefit from it.

It doesn't matter if they track you as you move from one slot machine to another - you will lose either way.

No kidding, if ya gotta gamble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7153251)

...then play BlackJack instead. The odds are much better for the player. Slots are the worst odds there are for the players, and the biggest moneymaker for the house. It shouldn't surprise anyone that they'll do whatever technical trickery they please to squeeze more money out of the one-arm bandits. At least with BlackJack, the odds and the math are well-known, and you can't really tamper with the game. You can actually win at BlackJack if you have half a brain, and a smidgeon of willpower to not ask for a hit when the dealer still must take one more card.

While tracking is probably legal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151002)

I doubt it's legal for them to change the behavior of the machine based on who is using it. I'm not familiar with Nevada's gaming laws though.

Already done! (2, Insightful)

EvlG (24576) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151008)

Many casinos issue cards for frequent customers. The cards allow you to build up points, redeemable for comps and such.

These systems already provided plenty of tracking. So the tickets are just a logical extension of this system really.

Assuming I already used a card, I would be happy to slip a ticket in my wallet rather than carry around buckets of heavy coins.

Re:Already done! (1)

Mancide (30030) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152952)

They claim the cards do not track the players winnings, but what they spend to "comp" you with freebies. Of course they aren't free, you paid for them when you dumped your money to them at the casino, but it makes you feel better anyway.

Also, the EEPROM chips in slots are closely watched, and only certain payouts are legal. And the authorities do random checks by pulling the EEPROM chips to check the for the correct odds. If a casino is in violation they are fined heavily.

The most this could possibly be used for is telling which machines are played the most, and allowing the casino's to place lower payout machines in higher traffic areas. This is what they've been doing all along tho, so this might only benefit them slightly. Anyway, if you think a card or anything is going to affect the pre-programed odds of a slot machine, that's just stupid. Slots are already a very low payout, something like 5-10% of what is paid into them.

Re:Already done! (2, Informative)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153132)

Dunno where you come from, but slots in Vegas and Atlantic City tend to run closer to 92%-98%--that is, in the long run if you spend $100 you will win back $98 of it.

Of course, you have to factor in the megajackpots into those odds, but they're not as bad as some forms of gambling.

Re:Already done! (1)

b!arg (622192) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153541)

Slots are already a very low payout, something like 5-10% of what is paid into them.

Actually that's very wrong. Many slots pay out 98%-99% and advertise as such. So you lose $1 for every $100 you bet. Just think Office Space scams...volume, volume, volume.

Re:Already done! (1)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154068)

Actually that's very wrong. Many slots pay out 98%-99% and advertise as such. So you lose $1 for every $100 you bet

Actually, you're very wrong. On average, most casinos pay out in the 90% - 95% range and somewhere in their casino they have at least one machine that pays out 98% and if you read the fine print in their ads you'll see that their slots pat out "UP TO 98%" or "AS MUCH AS 98%".

The actual pay out percentages are also based on the cash amount required to play the machine with higher value machines paying out higher percentages AND the number of coins that are played, as all big jackpots are based on the player playing the maximum number of coins at one time. If you sit down and play nickel slots at 5 cents per pull you will not see anywhere near a 98% return.

I think ... (1)

legLess (127550) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151016)

I think that people gamble because they're addicted, stupid, or drunk. Often a combination. All three of those states are notoriously impervious to math, especially statistics.

And besides, what "slim" edge? There's no edge -- anything that gives a player an edge is called "cheating" by the casinos. If there were a reliable way to exploit any "edge" in a casino it would go out of business in a week.*

*And yes, I've read all the stories about people with fiendishly complicated systems who do actually make shitloads of money, but not only is this very difficult in the first place, it's getting harder. The complexity of the exception proves the rule in this case.

Re:I think ... (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151155)

The exception to this is sports betting... there is a class of bettors (arbitrageurs) who make a small guaranteed profit on every game they bet on. This is "scalping", and hapens most often in betting on baseball (for a variety of reasons).

For instance, at this instant, Olympic Sportsbook offers the Cubs at -122 and the Marlins at +102 (meaning that a $122 bet on the Cubs would profit $100 and a $100 bet on the Marlins profits $102). If you could find a book that offered +122 for the Marlins, you then work out the bet amounts such that, whether the Cubs or Marlins win, the profit on the winning bet exceeds the loss on the losing bet.

In addition, since sports betting is almost entirely about skill in handicapping, a skilled bettor/handicapper can rape the book.

Re: my sig, I'm much better at picking NFL games than EPL games...

Re:I think ... (1)

Red Pointy Tail (127601) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151240)

This is called arbitrage... it also happens in currency trading, at least before electronic clearing became widespread (this sort of thing thrives on information not being complete). Just google on arbitrage - there are numerous websites services that will supposedly notify/text you of arbitrage opportunities if they detect any. For a fee, of course :)

Re:I think ... (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151293)

Indeed, that's why I referred to those who do this sort of thing as arbitrageurs.

FWIW, there's another variety of arbitrage which is a little bit more gambling-based (middling), though with a positive profit expectation. In additon, most pro scalpers (and you basically have to be a pro to do this consistently... in the modern era, to scalp, you basically have to sit in front of a computer screen for several (10+) hours a day and invest enough cash into it at different books) do gamble on where a scalp opportunity will come up. For instance, a scalper might expect the Marlins to be +130 or so before the first pitch tonight and lock in the Cubs price right now; if the Marlins never get to +130, the scalper ends up gambling.

Scalpers aren't well-liked by most of the books, especially since they can be very indistinguishable from the beards used by the syndicates.

Re:I think ... (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152563)

Technically, it's only arb if you have no element of time invovled. You have to be as close to instant as possible, if you have to hold one leg of the arb for any length of time you're just speculating. Not that you can't make good money speculating.

Re:I think ... (2, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151509)

In any sports-style betting where there are a large number of ill-informed betters, a well informed better can extract a profit from their ignorance.

Somewhere in hyperspace thate is a "perfect" set of odds for any event. In a fully informed world, the bookmaker and the betters would know this, the bookmaker would set odds that reflected this (minus a cut for his profit) and the betters would lose money at a steady rate.

In the real world, however, some betters will bet unreasonably - because they like the horses name or owners, because the team has a celebrity player, because even it is a bad team it is their team, etc. This means that the weight of bets is such that, if that horse/team does win, the bookmaker will have to pay out a lot. So the bookmaker responds by shortening the odds on this horse/team (knowing that the suckers will still bet emotionally) and lengthen the odds on the competing horses/teams. This means that anybody backing the competing horses/teams has an unfair advantage. Not that they will win any more often, but when they win, the payout will be bigger than it "ought" to be.

The bookmaker doesn't mind - effectively he is buying insurance. If the favourite wins, he has got a bit more income to set against the big payout he has had to make. If the favourite loses, he doesn't mind paying out a few smart gamblers from the big pot he has taken from the suckers. He makes his cut either way.

So it doesn't require absolute knowledge of an event, just relative knowledge. You have to know when the crowd are betting emotionally. And it is only worth betting when the weight of emotional betting is enough to counteract the bookies slice: if the effect is small, you won't take enough to cover the steady drain of the bookie.

As far as the bookie is concerned, the well-informed punter's money is increasing his capital: if he has enough canny punters, he can take more bets off the suckers. And since his profit is from volume, that means he makes more money. Which is nice.

Re:I think ... (1)

mrleemrlee (192314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151803)

This misunderstands how bookmakers set odds, at least in any sport that uses a pointspread. The point spread is set at a point the bookmaker thinks will attract equal numbers of bets for the favorite and the underdog. The line moves in order to make this equalization a reality.

The bookmaker then makes money on the commission that losing bettors pay.

This is why a sports bettor has to have a .550 winning percentage in order to turn an actual profit, and why sports betting (at least with a sports book) is most often a sucker's game.

Re:I think ... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151900)

That is almost exactly what I said, roughly, except that I generalised it for events with more than two competitors.

What you say is true, exept that they adjust for an equal *weight* of bets - money*bookmakers estimate of true odds. If an ace team meets a second rate one, they *don't* want the money to split evenly. If the bookie reckons the aces are 90% likely to win, what they want is 10% of betters to back the aces and 90% to back the outsiders. If everybody backs the "sensible" winner, the bookie loses. They have to have somebody backing the other side to get the money to pay those who back the favourite, so they give better odds on the outsider and really bad odds on the near cert.

So far, so boring. The bookmaker balances everything out, and the punters gently lose the commission, as you say.

But suppose everybody backs the outsider because their lead player just married a film star. Now far more monsy is going, stuupidly, on the outside. The seesaw tips, and the booky changes the odds from 8:1 (remember, they have only a 10% chance of winning, so that has margin for the bookie) to, say, 3:1. This still means that, if they do manage to win against the odds, he has a big payout problem. So he lengthens the odds on the unsexy, but high performing aces - from 11:10 to, say, 2:1, so as to get more money on the other end of the see-saw. Which means that someone betting the unpopular team gets a 90% chance of a 2:1 payoff - which is good gambling.

As you point out, the bookie always wins. And, as I said, the only opportunity for savvy punter to beat the sytem as a whole (not beat the bookie, who always wins) is when a lot of people are betting foolishly. As long as all punters are betting reasonably rationally, there is no way to win. But when a *large* number of idiots are betting, the bookie will *deliberately* adjust the odds so that a cool professional can make a profit. He doesn't care - he is too busy skinning the fools.

And only a few people can do this. the moment there are too many of them, they level the balance and no-one other than the bookie can win.

But my point is that to win, you don't look at the horses or the teams, you look at the crowd. And if you see them all running one way, you run the other. The bookie will do all the hard work for you.

working systems aren't always complicated (4, Interesting)

GlenRaphael (8539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151384)

If there were a reliable way to exploit any "edge" in a casino it would go out of business in a week.*

*And yes, I've read all the stories about people with fiendishly complicated systems who do actually make shitloads of money, but not only is this very difficult in the first place, it's getting harder. The complexity of the exception proves the rule in this case.

Actually, some of the systems that work to make money are simple. And a casino can easily absorb the losses from a few profitable players here and there. But you are correct that systems that work tend to be short-lived.

For example, here's a system that worked a few years ago:
(1) Find a bank of "Piggy Bankin'" slot machines.
(2) Walk down the row, pushing a button on each machine, causing it to "wake up" from attract mode and display how many coins are in the bank.
(3) If the number of coins in the bank is greater than 30, camp out at that machine and play one coin at a time until you "break the bank", then immediately cash out. and stop playing.
(4) go find another batch of Piggies, or hover in the background while people play these for a while so as to build the banks back up so you can tear them down again.

If the bank was at $40, your expected income was $20 (subtract 20 from the bank to get the expected value), and it should take less than 20 minutes of play to "earn" it.

Sadly, you won't find banks of original Piggies anymore, and even if you did, you wouldn't find them with large untapped jackpots because too many other advantage players know about them. So I'm not giving anything up by telling you about it now. There are other similar opportunities around, but (a) they tend to be short-lived or otherwise limited in scope, and (b) players who exploit them too aggressively tend to get barred.

Re:working systems aren't always complicated (1)

asjk (569258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151428)

...(2) Walk down the row, pushing a button on each machine, causing it to "wake up" from attract mode and display how many coins are in the bank.

(3) If the number of coins in the bank is greater than 30, camp out at that machine and play one coin at a time until you "break the bank", then immediately cash out. and stop playing...

Great! So you can use the display to show the past behavior of the machine and use this information to predict the likely outcome (ie; that the machine is DUE for a win). This is really valuable information!

Re:working systems aren't always complicated (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152993)

No, I think he is trying to find a machine where the maximum payout is highest.

"due for a win" isn't quite right with piggies (2, Interesting)

GlenRaphael (8539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153608)

Great! So you can use the display to show the past behavior of the machine and use this information to predict the likely outcome (ie; that the machine is DUE for a win).

Er, no. The piggy has a per-machine progressive - when a certain random event occurs it "adds a coin to the piggy bank." When you get the "break the bank" symbol it pays you whatever is in the piggy bank. The bank starts out at a value of 5, 10, or 15 coins, and on average the bank generally breaks at around a value of 19 coins, making this bonus neutral with respect to payout. Sometimes, through random chance, the bank happens to get very large before it breaks. If you happen upon a very large bank, you aren't in any sense "due for a win" - you still have to wait the same average time before the break-the-bank symbol appears as anybody else would - but you are guaranteed that when you get it, your payment is larger than average. The larger-than-average expectation from this one bet makes up for the generally negative expectation of the machine as a whole.

There are other games for which your "the machine is DUE for a win" does apply, though. On machines with the "diamond mine" bonus, for instance, you might find a machine that is likely to pay out sooner than its neighbor, because the nature of the bonus is that the payout comes when a mine fills up, and you can see how close that is to occuring.

Those who want to exploit such opportunities are well advised to read this book [amazon.com] , but I'll warn you in advance the pickings are pretty slim. There are enough knowledgable professional and semi-pro advantage players around that the opportunities don't persist long. Everywhere that profitable slot machines exist, there are people lurking in the background waiting to play them the moment they show a tiny profit opportunity. If you wait and only play slots that show a $20/hour ROI, you'll never get to play because somebody else will have jumped on the opportunity the minute it was a $2/hour ROI.

Re:"due for a win" isn't quite right with piggies (1)

royalblue_tom (557302) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154355)

Which shows just how stupid gambling is, as there are people willing to do a mindless task (hours of slots) for $2 an hour - less than minimum wage.

Re:I think ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151466)

Thats right, there is no player edge.

However, people beleiving that their is edges or systems that works is the casinos best friends.

Re:I think ... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152863)

I think that people gamble because they're addicted, stupid, or drunk. Often a combination.

Then you have a pretty narrow view of the universe.

You might well have said "I think that people go to movies because they're addicted, stupid, or drunk. Often a combination."

I know a guy - he's a CEO of a large company. Not stupid. Not addicted, and he doesn't drink.

He gambles because he likes it. I asked him about it, and he says that it's entertainment for him - like going to a concert or an expensive restaurant.. he'll spend about the same in the casino as he would doing any other form of entertainment, but he prefers the casino.

He knows he's gonna lose, and he has a self-imposed limit. Once he's spent his "mad money" for the night, he goes home. The thrill for him is seeing how long he can get the money to last.

Re:I think ... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154251)

Exactly- yuu're paying for entertainment. You can go to a movie for 20 bucks (after popcorn). Or you can lose 20 bucks in a casino. So long as you have fun, and don't go overboard, its all good. Just don't bet more than you'd usually spend on a day's entertainment.

Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (3, Informative)

thecampbeln (457432) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151018)

Casinos can't legally dynamically change the odds on a machine period, let alone based on who you are!

Besides... moving from one machine to another does not improve your odds any better then those idiots who bet black when X number of reds have appeared in succession on a roulette table... The only ones who this will "help" are the casinos themselves (better tracking of prolific players), said prolific players (getting comps, etc.) and of course the tax man.

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (3, Informative)

Red Pointy Tail (127601) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151136)

Ya, it is a commonly held fallacy that changing machines improve the odds. It is takes high-school probability training (or just simple reasoning) to see that the odds of a future given the previous events that have *already* been determined remains the same. Theoretically it is probably possible that the same machine can give 2 jackpots successively, though there is hardly the chance for that.

An aside would be that many machines have an accumulating jackpot since the last win, for which it makes sense to just pick the one with highest pot to maximize your intake if you hit jackpot.

A simple Occam razorish explanation will also to be that the casino *doesn't* need to do this to earn their big bucks. And they earn their big bucks by having a tiny skew in their basic odds (like giving 0.51 odds to themselves v.s. 0.49 odds to you) thus gives them a slight edge, that is multiplied by the volume of transaction to give them a big profit. All they need is to guarantee volume and prevent cheating. Maybe the tickets is just efficiency and to make it possible and easier to track cheaters. To imply that they would tweak the odds is just tinfoil hatting simply because they don't need to. And that is probably illegal.

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (1)

Filiks (578065) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151228)

I don't think each slot machine pull is an independant event. I think they're programmed to toy with the gambler's emotions as they pay out the exact percentage they've been set to. Two jackpots in a row would not be allowed by the programming.

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (1)

signifying nothing (520593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152230)

UK Slot Machines are not quite the same as American ones, and the laws are somewhat different, but you're certinaly right that they play with punters' emotions and give pre-determinded payoffs. See here [fairplay-campaign.co.uk] for detailed examples and evidence.

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (1)

Red Pointy Tail (127601) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152602)

I've viewed that site, though it is interesting, and i think there is a simple explanation for this - there is no good random generator. Hence all subsequent behaviour are 'randomized' from a seed.

As for pre-determined payoffs - well since the tree of outcomes of events are fixed, you can argue that it is predetermined. However, if nobody knows the sequence (if you cannot examine the ROM, etc) then it is as good as random anyway isn't it? Also, the site argues that some challenges are rigged such that if you go 'Highyou lose, if you go 'Low' you also lose, therefore it is unfair. Well, again this can be explained in terms of the predetermined tree -- the selection is not rigged but the way the random seed is being used to generate the outcome resulted in that behaviour. Further down the line, there might be a choice where both 'High' and 'Low' results in a win.

There is also absolutely no evidence that 'they play with punters' emotions'.

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (1)

zo219 (667409) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151321)

>to imply that they would tweak the odds is just tinfoil hatting

The birth of a new verb?

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (2, Informative)

rhvarona (710818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151458)

Newer slot machine systems have multiple machines withdrawing results from a central ticket pool. The ticket pools are generated days or weeks in advance. At time of generation the casino specifies what kind of payout percentage they want, and verify it on generation. They actually specify exactly how many results there will be at each prize levels. For example:
9700 - no win
200 - 4x prize
80 - 8x prize
15 - 20x prize
4 - 50x prize
1 - 200x prize

After the pool is generated the system verifies there are no statistical anomalies and then makes it available for playing.

Newer machines do not get full banks, and they don't generate a random result at the time you press a button, they grab a pre-generated one. This is true for systems used in Washington state and Florida, I would expect it to be similar in Nevada.

Like the parent said, the casino does not care if you win. They actually like winning to be a huge event with lots of fanfare, it motivates other players. They make known profit from every generated ticket pool.

Its also a commonly held fallacy (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153208)

That the odds are a fixed thing. Each slot machine has a minimum required (75% by law) payout percentage.
This does not equal predictable odds for you. The payout is based on the Casino's preference and in Vegas,
the total casion's payout percentages are btwn 86.7% & 93.4%. [reviewjournal.com]

The reason Casino's have implemented tickets or magnetic swipe cards is so that they can actively track the
amount of cash going in and around the casino. This allows them to play with the odds and to watch for
cheaters. Before they had this tech, it was basically an educated guess as to how much money was in the
slots or at the tables. In return for giving up your privacy, you get comped. Its a trade off that mostly
benefits the casinos, but who doesn't like free drinks?

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (1)

geoswan (316494) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154138)

Casinos can't legally dynamically change the odds on a machine period...

And you trust them to faithfully observe the law because this industry has already impressed you with the ethical standards they have shown so far?

LOL.

Re:Casinos Can't Change the Odds! (1)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154416)

I trust they to play by the rules. Because they are audited on a regular basis on one hand. If they get caught cheating on this they will be in for major problems, fines etc. On the other hand there is no great incentive for them to cheat. Assuming that the casino gets enough people to gamble to pay its bills it will make money.

Are you that stupid (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151029)

You probably think you have better than average odds of winning at the nickel slots. Give me a break. The casinos make money hand over fist. You think they're going to risk jail time to gip you out of a couple nickles.

Naive? (2, Informative)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151033)

I'm sure I'm being naive, but isn't it illegal to have the odds of winning different inside the machine as to the ones advertised on the outside? If casinos would be willing to rig the odds using a ticket-based system, why would anyone consider that the current "anonymous" machines are any less rigged?

(Why anyone considers casinos worth spending time/money at is a discussion left for another day.)

Re:Naive? (4, Informative)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151063)

Plus what would be the point, you (The casino) get in big trouble if you get caught, and you are going to make money anyway.

Now it may help the casinos figure out how to set up the floor to maximize revenue or something, sort of like, people who like game X tend to like game Y but not Z, so lets move these slots over there.

But then again if you are in a casino you are a bit of a fool.

Re:Naive? (1)

dondelelcaro (81997) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151409)

I'm sure I'm being naive, but isn't it illegal to have the odds of winning different inside the machine as to the ones advertised on the outside?
Slot machines typically don't have their payout rate (or odds) stamped on the front. In fact, I've never, ever seen one with it. For most modern slots, you have to look inside at the games rom to even determine the payout rate. Payoff rates also tend to vary from machine to machine even within the same line. (That is, the machines to the left and right of a machine might have totally different payout rates.) In Nevada at least, the Gaming board checks the roms for aproval, but really is only concerned with the fact that the games are truely random and aren't cheating the player.

And for those of you even thinking about playing slots, a friend of the family used to have a one armed bandit in their collection (when slots were legal in California.) Even set at the highest payout rate, the bandit more than paid their kids allowance. I suggest a nice game of blackjack or poker instead.

Re:Naive? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151587)

they are generally rigged. you aren't playing 'real' random game anymore.

and around here iirc there's a law stating how much of the money that gets put in the machine can keep to itself(that is, the law states the odds). and the odds aren't generally advertised and if they were, screw them, they're not generally going to tell the full algorithm for deciding if you win or not, as that can be quite complex already as all machines are software controlled more or less, usually more. your chances of winning include things like how much money has bee poured into the machine already as well..

however(if/when i have money and want to gamble) the best way to gamble in my opinion is to play some cards with friends, as it can be a lot of fun(raising especially if you have a good poker face).

Re:Naive? (1)

thing12 (45050) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151944)

they are generally rigged. you aren't playing 'real' random game anymore.

Naa, they're not rigged. There are strict laws in Nevada anyway, and most gaming laws in the US are modelled after Nevada's simply because they have stood the test of time. That's not to say that the odds aren't stacked heavilly toward the casino -- but it is a purely random game. When you trigger the start of the game (button, handle, etc...) the machine loads a different odds table based strictly on the amount of money you put in, then it grabs a random number and finds the point in the table where that number falls and generates a result on screen to give you that payout.

And of course the casino can load new odds tables whenever they want to give the illusion of 'hot' machines. The 'edge' the submitter was talking about just comes from the fact that you can move from machine to machine in the hopes of finding those that are in fact paying out at a higher rate -- and he's worried about the casino operators pulling a switch behind the scenes when they're tracking you're behavior.

I wouldn't worry about it though.. I think they have better things to do.

Re:Naive? (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152678)

It ain't random. It's statistical, designed to mimic randomness.

Re:Naive? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152963)

**Naa, they're not rigged. There are strict laws in Nevada anyway, and most gaming laws in the US are modelled after Nevada's simply because they have stood the test of time. That's not to say that the odds aren't stacked heavilly toward the casino -- but it is a purely random game. When you trigger the start of the game (button, handle, etc...) the machine loads a different odds table based strictly on the amount of money you put in, then it grabs a random number and finds the point in the table where that number falls and generates a result on screen to give you that payout.**

that's not how they work here(well, around here such slots machines are in grocery stores mostly), and i truely suspect that's not how they work in nevada either anymore. statistically it looks the same which is what matters leagally(+ there is state monopoly on it around here, but iirc the laws state the minimum ratio of money it has to give as wins vs keeping), but more sophisticated systems can avoid getting filled up & etc this way(the times between emptying can vary).

Law Of Averages + Slot machines (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151039)

In any other game the 'Law of averages' is a fallacy which will help you lose money if you believe in it - but in slots the machines are programmed to work with a certain win/lose percentage. I'd imagine any reactive behaviour would probably be illegal, but the gaming regulators may take a while to catch on.

Hmmmmm... (1)

pardey (568849) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151065)

I wonder if, given enough tickets, one could figure out their encoding scheme and print one's own tickets. Of course, they'd figure it out sooner or later, review their video footage, and come bankrupt your brother-in-law's tractor dealership...

Re:Hmmmmm... (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151269)

I wonder if, given enough tickets, one could figure out their encoding scheme and print one's own tickets.

Seems really unlikely the ticket would encode "Pay this person $100".

Instead, it would say "Pay this person the amount recorded in file number 30259794-7163979-94-4059-32574-5145 in the master database."

Faking that isn't going to get you very far.

Doesn't work like that (4, Interesting)

mike_lynn (463952) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151067)

I'm pretty sure the Nevada Gambling Comission/Board would have an issue with devices listed as separate games acting in concert to provide an overall odds. They spend a lot of time and money to ensure as much 'randomness' as possible, yet design the games to have very definite odds. I don't think they're about to overhaul the whole system.

edge?? EDGE???? (2, Informative)

Fat Cow (13247) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151076)

giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge.

Are you joking? I thought this board was supposed to inhabited with math-clueful types.

Just so we're clear - there's no player edge on slots - it's advertised to go up to 97.8% payback and is more usually at 90% [lasvegasadvisor.com]

Re:edge?? EDGE???? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151589)

there's an edge in casinos.

free booze!!!

fck, if we had that kind of casinos within 400km radius i'd be there every other night playing slots with pennies...

Re:edge?? EDGE???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151921)

No. Try nickels, you ever see a penny machine? They all take about 50-250 per roll :p That's $.50-$2.50 per spin, man!

Find a nice three nickel machine. $.15 a roll, and for some damned reason, the cocktail waitresses *always* hover around them.

Hmm, it's probably because they know we're only there for the free booze, and tip more often than the bastards at the $5 machines. ;)

Re:edge?? EDGE???? (1)

dabug911 (714069) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152056)

Actually what they don't tell you is that the 97% payback is over the life of the machine! So a machine could be around for 20 or 30 years, and most machines are taken out of circulation way before that.

Re:edge?? EDGE???? (1)

pw1972 (686596) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152493)

Doesn't matter if it's a lifetime or not. 97% means that on average for every $100 put into the machine, $97 will be paid out. Casino's love the naive ones who actually think they can beat them. To my knowledge the only casino game's you could possibly gain an advantage in are blackjack and possibly baccarat for the very skilled card counters. I have more fun gambling on the stocks and the payout is much better ;-)

Re:edge?? EDGE???? (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152666)

I've never heard of a card counting scheme for baccarat, unless you count playing the bank in Europe, I always thought it was interesting, that you go in to the big fancy room and play a game with pretty decent odds, I think the house take is below 5%. A little bit worse the pass/no pass line bet (without odds) or a decent blackjack strategy (no counting). I think the grandparent post's point was that a machine could be set to make most of that 97% payout in one or two big wins (with more like an 80% payout excluding those wins), which might not happen during the installed life of the machine.

Re:edge?? EDGE???? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152809)

Trust me. I put $100 into a machine over the course of less than an hour and $97 did NOT come pouring out.

It is over the course of a long period of time (like a year, or machine lifetime perhaps.) Statistical bell curves and all that biz.

you've lost before you started (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151080)

you do know that the casino takes in more than it pays out, right? that's how they make their money.

statistically speaking, you leave with less than you came in. it's like day traders.. occasionally someone has some good luck but the vast majority of small-time day traders and gamblers lose money. It's in the numbers and you can't change it.

So what if one machine pays out less or more than the other? They've got the system as a whole turning out exactly the profit margin they want. You think Microsoft and other monopolies have it nice because they can adjust fees and licenses until they get the revenue they need? That's nothing compared to casinos.

Hopefully you realize that gambling is a form of entertainment, and nothing more! In this case it doesn't matter which machines have bigger payout, does it?

Good luck.

Slots (0, Troll)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151116)

Only an idiot plays slots. They have the highest house odds of any casino game.

Re:Slots (1)

pcbob (67069) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151146)

Tell that to my friend, who after spending $30* on black-jack (same as me) put in one quater in a slot machine and got $300! At first we tought it got broken, what with all the buttons being stuck and some wierd noise. Then the security guard came and told us we won, and that that kind of money is not being spewed out by the machine, instead we had to wait for them to bring the cash to us :)
First quater he put in...

* we were at a casino just to try it out, generaly it's fun to go every year or so and wast a bit of money
also, i'm talking canadian dollars here :) and no, he never won anything since (but we were there maybe twice since then)

Re:Slots (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154162)

Yeah, tell that to the woman that won the largest slots jackpot in Las Vegas history.. and was killed by a drunk driver on the way home. What are the odds on that?

Re:Slots (1)

GlenRaphael (8539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151396)

Only an idiot plays slots. They have the highest house odds of any casino game.

Depends on the slot. Do you include Video Poker or Piggy Bankin' machines? If so, there are some players that make a healthy return on investment playing those. Some players have even been barred for playing slots too well. But I'll grant you the general rule still holds for most people most of the time.

Re:Slots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151963)

False. The house has the highest advantage on the big wheel game (it's called different things at different casinos).

The one where you put down a dollar or whatever and they spin the wheel. If the wheel stops on the same place as you bet, you win. Otherwise, you lose (obviously).

Biggest rip off the casinos have.

Re:Slots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7152801)

Ha! The worst odds are the game I played a few years ago... investing in internet stocks! Want some stock options cheap?

As I sit here.... (2, Informative)

Sevn (12012) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151142)

Looking at my Station Casinos Preferred Membership Card, I can tell you exactly what the cards are for. It's to get you to come back to the same Casinos. The cool thing about the Station card is you can use it at any of their Casinos. And they have quite a few. The card gets you stuff like free plays, discounted drinks, and automatically registered for a jackpot drawing. My father-in-law hit it for 35 grand recently on a dollar slot. This is the only card I'm familiar with, but I'm sure they are all pretty much the same thing. My card is valid at Boulder Station, Palace Station, Texas Station, Sunset Station(my fav), and Santa Fe Station.

a slot strategy? what? (2, Insightful)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151158)

A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds.

I thought the basic slot strategy was continue to press the "spin" button until all your money disappears? In that case, this card idea makes it so much easier!!

On another note, have you considered actually investing the money in short term stocks or doing some intense day trading? The thrill is the same as gambling, except the odds are actually in your favor to make money. Not to mention the experience you'd gain at picking stocks; something that will benefit you WAY more in the long run than the ability to pick slot machines.

Pointless (2, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151194)

The casinos do not care if you win or lose - all they care about is that they win. It is necessary that people occasionally win, otherwise nobody would play. They don't care whether it's you, or someone you saw. The odds will be set so that even with the odd big payout, they still profit.

The casino doesn't care whether YOU win or lose (4, Insightful)

GlenRaphael (8539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151204)

When it comes to games where luck dominates, the casino fundamentally doesn't care whether you in particular are a winner over any specific period of time. They have no incentive to modify the odds in the way you suggest.. Why would you assume they do?

Suppose a slot machine has a payout schedule such that, on average, the machine pays out 97% of the amount it takes in. Somebody will win the occasional big payout but most people will lose, and the losses will tend to more than cover the wins.Why should the casino care whether the payouts go to you rather than the next guy? All they care about is that the overall odds are in their favor, and they are. Somebody will win the jackpots, and it might as well be you as much as anybody else. You don't scare them.

When you say "A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds.", you are talking nonsense. Switching machines doesn't change your odds*, so the casinos don't need to do anything special to foil that strategy. You can't combine negative expectation bets to get a positive expectation bet.

(* actually, there's an exception to that rule, and I've made money exploiting it, but I gather you're not talking about wonging into machines with unusually high per-machine progressives. That's gotten pretty hard to do lately due to stiff competition and "anti-flea" features built into the newest machines by the manufacturers. But it was fun while it lasted, eh?)

Completely silly. (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152901)

They have no incentive to modify the odds in the way you suggest

Customer management, in this case, could be a little more complex than you seem to believe. Gambling is most addictive when the pattern of reward is very specific. A customer has very little idea how everyone else is doing, and a very good idea of how he is doing.

In order to keep him gambling the most money, it makes sense to present him, in particular, with a pattern of reward that encourages him to lose the most money. For example, I would avoid presenting a single player with too many straight losses in a row, as I do not want him to give up. I'd also prevent too many wins in a row, as the extra wins above the first few are not providing added incentive to play (and are costing money).

The ideal plan, from behavioral studies, is small rewards fairly often and large rewards at long, very random intervals.

I don't know if casinos are planning to do this, but, if it's legal, I assume they're savvy enough to try.

Re:Completely silly. (1)

GlenRaphael (8539) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153757)

The ideal plan, from behavioral studies, is small rewards fairly often and large rewards at long, very random intervals.

And luckily enough for the casinos, just letting the machines follow their normal default behavior does exactly this! No further per-client tweaking is required to accomplish it.

To the degree that a little further tweaking /is/ useful, they can do that via the mechanism of comps. The standard thing is to give the biggest expected losers a consolation prize of free meals, shows, airfare and rooms to encourage them to do their losing /here/ rather than at the casino down the street.

Re:Completely silly. (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153891)

And luckily enough for the casinos, just letting the machines follow their normal default behavior does exactly this! No further per-client tweaking is required to accomplish it.

Not true. Over the long term, distributions will be normal (and conducive to continued gambling) certainly. However, over the short term (say, an hour's play) all sorts of non-optimal patterns will emerge.

Last time I was on a cruise ship, I watched people gamble for hours. Fascinating, really. Cruise ship gamblers are often casual, and I watched a good few leave (perhaps permanently) after they lost a few straight right when they started playing.

They'll never find out whether the machine was about to give them the starter win - an unfortunate sequence (for the casinos mostly) meant that they were out.

It seems to me that it's definitely in the casino's best interest to change odds in order to present specific patrons with the most addictive sequences of wins and losses.

Comps may help, but nobody plays through the night to get a great comp.

Naah, different scam (1)

obtuse (79208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151223)

They aren't messing with the odds. They aren't fools. It's extremely risky, and they don't need to. The odds are already fixed in their favor more than any other game there.

However, the tickets are an extra (and legal) moneymaker beyond increased efficiency.

Unlike coins, they aren't redeemable at other casinos, making it just a little harder to take your funds elsewhere. Customer retention is good.

Like a gift certificate, there will be some percentage of them that go unredeemed, becoming pure profit for the casino. Free money is good.

I resent the tickets, and refuse to use them. If I get one from a machine, I'm done. I'll cash it in and go somewhere else with coins where I can pay my ten percent tithe for watered down drinks. Besides, tikets don't make that lovely noise that the coins do. I don't mind the tracking cards though.

Slot machines are huge moneymakers. A decade ago, I remember hearing from a Vegas lounge musician that his trade was dying because most of the casinos were eliminating their lounges to replace them with slots, because slots are so lucrative.

Re. cheating in Vegas. In _Beat the Dealer_, Thorpe observed cheating dealers in blackjack games for as little as fifty cents. That's an individual dealer though, a human being with accountability. A casino can't say, "Oh, that's just a rogue slot machine, not OUR responsibility."

are you insane ? (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151227)

Strategy - in a random number generator ???

No wonder Vegas makes good money if someone that has a good degree that hopefully includes mathematics, statistics, and probabilities

You were kidding about that strategy comment right ?

Flip a coin 100 times - all heads... what is the chance of flipping it again and getting 101 heads in a row ???

If you want a game where you can have strategy learn to play blackjack well, REALLY well. The only game where you can statistically beat the house over a LONG period of time - it just requires a graduate level degree in mathematics and statistics to do it in your head

Re:are you insane ? (1)

Pete (big-pete) (253496) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151389)

If you want a game where you can have strategy learn to play blackjack well, REALLY well. The only game where you can statistically beat the house over a LONG period of time - it just requires a graduate level degree in mathematics and statistics to do it in your head

Mmm - blackjack. It all depends on the exact house rules, but the only casino I've ever visited has quite generous rules.

Blackjack is the only game I play, and I really enjoy it when the rules are fair - also I've been quite lucky, and walked out almost every time with double (or more) of my self set limit of cash I was prepared to lose. The other occasions I kept my losses low by quitting once I lost that same amount.

Some people have said that only fools use casinos, but it can be a valid form of entertainment, and I'll never forget the buzz I felt as I took my place at the busy blackjack table for the first time! (And promptly made a mistake by trying to double when it wasn't allowed - Doh!)

Then again I don't really have an addictive nature, and I can see how it could be a really bad idea for some people to visit casinos...

-- Pete.

Re:are you insane ? (1)

jafuser (112236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151488)

Flip a coin 100 times - all heads... what is the chance of flipping it again and getting 101 heads in a row ???

I understand it now, but for some reason it took me a long time to really understand this concept...

Now I know:

The odds of getting 101 heads in a row is equal to the odds of getting 100 heads in a row followed by a tails.

As far as strategy, there are some valid strategies (see the Piggy Bankin' comment), but they'll probably get you thrown out of the casino if it's obvious what you're doing.

Re:are you insane ? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152956)

Flip a coin 100 times - all heads... what is the chance of flipping it again and getting 101 heads in a row?

Simple - if it's the same coin, and it came up heads 100 times in a row, chances are it would come up heads on the 101st throw.

The odds of 100 heads in a row are so small that it leads one to believe that there is something abnormal about the coin that causes it to come up heads more often than tails.

If you have something that is supposed to be 50/50 odds, and it consistantly favours one outcome or the other, then logic states that the odds are not really 50/50.

If you're that paranoid... (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151275)

...then why don't you simply just change the tickets for cash at a change booth and then gamble with that cash?

Hey, it's hardly rocket science, is it?

Re:If you're that paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7151503)

parent makes an excellent point

Computerised gambling (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151352)

I don't see how you can ever trust a computerised gambling device anyway. How can you tell if it is based on a random number generation or has a stratergy programmed in? A program will know exactly which cards it has given you and which cards it has left, surely it will always be able to produce a combination to beat you. With all these online flash gambling sites, who checks that they actually have mathematical odds or are just set up to beat you every time?

Re:Computerised gambling (1)

mohhomad (638585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151437)

Well in the example of slot machines in Las Vegas, there is something called the nevada gaming commision. Any time they want they can come into your casino open your slot machine pull out the random number generator and test to see if it's an approved device. If not you lose your licence. A casino is already set up to win, why would any casino risk cheating it's consumers for a slight increase in profits if the risks are so big? As for online gambling, most sites are out of country businesses, some probably do cheat and there's not a thing you can really do about it. Hell you could probably place a $5000 bet win and risk not getting a pay off. Anyways, as much fun as gambling is, the only way to win is not to play.

Slot machine odds (2, Interesting)

glassesmonkey (684291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151736)

Geez, this is not news, Vegas (and other resorts) have been doing this for awhile. If you are staying at a hotel you are encouraged to use your equivalent of the grocery-store shopper card. This serves two purposes, (a) hotel guests spend more money gambling in their casino owned by their hotel and (b) Vegas can optimize their payout... (oh and (c) you spend more when it's virtual cash). They can track consumer behavior and demographics. All the more reason to only play with cash and forego the comps. The same goes for grocery-store cards.. consumers get screwed in the long run.

I mean (of course) not that they modify any odds, but that they can "comp" certian guests and give free meals, shows, etc. to guest to 'perceive' they got something for all the cash they lost at the slot machines and more likely to return and/or spend more gambling. And after all the 'odds' we are speaking about is really return on investment (negative in most cases).

As far as Nevada gaming commision goes, slot machines don't have to meet any 'perfectly random' requirement. Machines can be (I mean ARE IN FACT) designed to payout differently depending on how full they are, where in the casino they are (ie. by the entrances/exits), what time of day, what time they were last serviced. What the casino must maintain is an overall average payout (usually around 95% on the strip and 98%+ in the suburbs).. Which means best case you are losing money over the long run.

However, many professional gamblers make a living playing video poker which *if* you play *perfectly* can payout >100%.. I've heard that 40hrs/wk in front of a video poker machine can earn you at least $20k/yr (asuming you have enough cash to ride out a losing streak) (Oh and don't believe what you hear on Travel Channel or ABC about casinos and resorts, they are designed to bring in customers

Odds and Tickets (1)

pci (13339) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151922)

Tickets are being used now instead of coin to simplify in-house accounting. Keeping 2000 machines full of coins take a lot of man power that isn't needed with the ticket-in ticket-out system. Plus its so much easier to carry a ticket than a couple hundred nickel tokens.

As for the odds games typically pay out between 75% and 95% of what goes into them, the same odds you get on the video lottery terminals in your local bar. The payout is averaged out over hundreds of games, so switching machines isn't going to help you win.

I love the casino business.

Bad strategy (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7151964)

If you want to win a slot jackpot, go to vegas with $50-70k and play $50-100 machines only. Play the same machine until you run out of loot.

Slots are required to pay a certain amount over a period of time... switching machines reduces the chances that you'll hit a jackpot.

Nevada Gaming Commision (1)

Laith (21370) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152013)

I realize someone probably has commented on this already.

The NGC as strict rules regarding slot machine operations and regular surprise spot checks to insure that only NGC authorized chips are in use in the slots.

Think of them as giant videogames, the game is run my ROM chips that control the payoff rate of the machine. There is no magic button that the casino manager can hit to cause a machine to pay/not-pay. A casino in violation _will_ recieve stiff fines (stiff enough to actually make a casion think) and possiblity of shutdown.

An easy work around (1)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152024)

Just hold the tickets aside and play with something we mere mortals call MONEY. Cash out the tickets at the end of the night instead of shoving them back into another machine.

In any event this is kind of a moot point since most people are playing for a free buffet and use those cards.

I hate to tell ya this.... (2, Interesting)

EvilOpie (534946) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152349)

I hate to tell you this, but most casinos already track what you play in the slots. But as far as I know, they use it to give you bonuses to play at the casino. They track how much you play and how much you win, and the more you play the more comps (bonuses) you can get.

For example, I play at Casino Niagra [discoverniagara.com] once or twice a month on average. (I live in new york, so Niagra Falls isn't that far away.) Every month the casino sends me a mailing that has 2 $10 coupons in it. I have heard that other people can get either 2 $20 or 2 $50 coupons for the casino each month depending on how much they spend in the slots. And how do they know how much they spend? By inserting a card and being tracked at the slots basically. So if you spend more, you're rewarded with more freebies. While on the other hand, if you don't use your card they think you don't play and stop giving you the coupons as a result. But honestly, for $20/month for free, I'm willing to be tracked.

Now I assume that the same type of thing is done in Canada that's done in Nevada, though I can't say for sure. But in Los Vegas, a machine has to be random to be legal. A casino can't skew the results of a machine to play out better to one player or another. It can control how likely the machine is to pay out as a whole (usually the more a machine costs to play, the more likely you are to win, though the odds are still in the house's favor), but it's illegal to change it from person to person. (if someone wants to correct me on this that's fine. I since live in NY I could be wrong about this.)

As for the printed slips, those are annoying. We have 3 casinos within about 2 hours from here. Casino Niagra [discoverniagara.com] , Seneca Niagara [senecaniagaracasino.com] , and Turning Stone Casino [turning-stone.com] . I like Casino Niagara the best since it uses both coins to play, and that's how you get your winnings. It's tangeable at all times, instead of only getting money when you visit a cashier. Turning stone I like next because it's completely electronic. Your winnings/losings are all stored on your casino card which you take from machine to machine, so it's easier to carry around. Seneca Niagra uses the printed slips and they're a bit annoying because if you win, you have to take your slip to a cashier to collect your winnings. You can't just go from machine to machine as easily. It kinda sucks that way but there's nothing you can do about it.

So in closing, don't worry. The casinos aren't out to get you. They are just after your money, and you pretty much turn it over freely when you play the slots. :-) So take off the tin foil hat since as far as I know, they can't legally skew the slot machines either for or against you no matter how much you play.

A fool and his money are easily parted. (1)

pw1972 (686596) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152405)

"giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge" The author must have delusions of grandeur. There is no player edge period in the slots.

Casinos WANT you to WIN (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152497)

A Casion wants you personally to win. They make their money by getting a lot of people in, and most of them lose, but they love nothing more than when you win, and go home and tell your friends. Think about it, those who go to vegas and win are always telling their friends and family how much they made, often over a year latter they are still bragging. There is no better advertising than word of mouth from winners. Best of all, individulals can lie, saying things (in complete ignorance) that would be illegal for them to advertise. Those who loose tend to take it in stride "I lost, but not that much, and I had fun", and soon after forget about it. They can loose when you win because you will encourage others to go and loose.

Remember they make money from the numbers. The odds are designed so that some will by random chance beat them and make money, with the goal of getting those people to go home and get more "winners" in. Most people will loose of course, but they want you to hear about the winners, something they can only do if there are a few winners. (Of course many winners come back and loose more latter than they won, which helps them even more)

Portable printer? (1)

smoon (16873) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152534)

So how long until some innovative person brings a digital camera, photo's someone elses ticket, prints their own, then 'cashes' it before they do?

More to the point, how long until an 'innovative' casino takes advantage of the ephemeral (no chips/coins to count) nature of this and causes computer records to change things in their favor. Yes the various gaming comission types and auditors would frown on it, but done cleverly enough it could be pulled off (and probably already is).

Slots? (1)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152595)


A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds.

Eh, excuse me, but I really doubt you can change odds on slots.

AFAICT, the best you can do in a casino is playing 21 with basic strategy, modified by counting cards. It requires enough concentration, though, that's it too much like real work.

Plus, if you're too good and obvious (low bets until near the end of the deck when your bets get really high) you'll get escorted out.

Team playing might defer the inevitable, but the casinos are wise to that, too.

Already Slim Edge? (1)

bellings (137948) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152718)

giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge... What does Slashdot think about this?

Slashdot thinks that people who play slots lose between 5 and 15 cents every time they pull the lever on the one dollar "pretty blinky light machine."

Slashdot also thinks that people who believe they have an "alread slim edge" in slots are probably the greatest thing ever, since they pay for all the cool hotels and stuff that the rest of us stay at when we're in Vegas.

Tickets don't 'plink', do they? (2, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 10 years ago | (#7152954)

The one time I've been to Vegas and on a few trips to Atlantic City as a kid, I've always noticed how excited people can get by the sound of plinking coins.

The old ladies spending their social security check on the one-armed bandit will hear a neighbor get a big payout and start playing more fiercely. When they do win they have a crazy Golumn-like look in their eye as they're filling up that bucket full of winnings.

Is the cost of handling coins so high that it's worth forfeiting the extra revenue from that psychology? Even if the machines make an electronic plink sound when you win (along with the bells and sirens) I can't see the alure being the same.

Of course, maybe it's just easier to hit the '$5 bet' button if you don't have to load 20 quarters into the machine.

Personally, I think the best games in Vegas are in the basement of the Excalibur.

Re:Tickets don't 'plink', do they? (1)

xTown (94562) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153121)

Of course, maybe it's just easier to hit the '$5 bet' button if you don't have to load 20 quarters into the machine.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is exactly the reason that they're moving to a ticket-based system. It's like the psychology behind chips--it's designed to make you forget that you're actually spending money by providing a layer of abstraction: "Look, it's not a hundred-dollar bill! It's just a black disk with the casino's name on it!" As the poker players say, the guy who invented chips was a genius.

And this is why vegas is brightly lit... (1)

Godeke (32895) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153030)

...dim bulbs like this who believe the player has an edge. For goodness sakes, look at the odds listed for the machine: 97% on average, 99% for "high roller" machines. How does that translate into a "player advantage"?

In the short run, random runs may give the player a larger than average win or loss, but play long enough and you will confirm the math behind slots every time. The *only* games where you can gain an advantage are Black Jack (and only by counting cards: see articles about the MIT boys who won big) and Pai Gow Poker if you know that you can be the bank, and only is very rare casinos where the "rake" (% taken from your winnings) is very low.

However, I do thank you for subsidizing my trips to vegas with your losses.

it is possible to tilt odds in your favor (1)

rabbits77 (453747) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153157)

just not at slots.
sports and pari-mutuel betting offers the best odds that can actually be in your favor if you "handicap" the event correctly.
Indeed, an impressive bit of work was done recently on doing exactly this with jai-alai written by a mathematics professor at SUNY Stony Brook.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai l/-/0521 009626/qid=1065538350/sr=8-6/ref=sr_8_6/104-687825 5-5252721?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Wtf? Math anyone? (1)

photon317 (208409) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153256)


Slot machines are mathematically one of the worst thigns you can do with your money at a casino. And that's assuming they're fair chances as published and no manipulation is going on. For that matter, you gani zero advantage moving between slots or any other hokey little slots theory. Slots do not get hot and cold.

Designer of a ticket system.... (1)

axoi (150528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153326)

As a designer of one of the leading slot ticket system I know first hand the back end uses of tickets. They can't track people unless they have a player card inserted at the same time. There are so many regulations about using barcoded tickets that it boggles the mind. The hold percentages for slots vary from one jurisdiction to another. For example the hold percentages, the amount the slot will take in, is 97% or higher in Reno and Las Vegas ( depending on personality chip installed ) but in New Jersey its completely different ( I don't recall right now what the exact percentage was but it was much higher. )

There is a personality chip inside slot machines ( its a little eeprom ) that controls the percentages for each play. Yes its true that the machines know if you've won or lost before they spin the wheels but its just for fun anyway right?

I think everyone is missing the point with gambling. Its more about the experience than about the money. Any poor slob any poor his life savings into a machine. ( Some jurisdictions, like Kansas City, prevent users from making this mistake, or at least try to ) But how often can you go out and be treated like royality at a restaurant or other establishment. Any casino is all about appearance, customer loyalty, and then about the almighty dollar.

I'm just presenting a different point of view having been in the casino industry for 13 years now.

The way slots work. (2, Interesting)

mikeumass (581062) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153382)

Just a little FYI on the slot machines actually work. Many people have the misconception that each time you pull the lever the slot machine moves onto it's next random number in line. Therefore it is possible for someone to "steal" someonelse's jackpot by pulling the lever right before them. The way slots actually work is while they are sitting idle, thier random number generator is actually pumping through numbers like crazy. It only stops when someone pulls the lever, and this is the number chosen for that particular pull. This means it is possible to miss a big jackpot by a fraction of a second.

I work in a casino... (4, Insightful)

NickDngr (561211) | more than 10 years ago | (#7153893)

I work in the Slot Technical department of the first casino in the world to have a 100% ticket-in/ticket-out floor. I can tell you with absolute certainty that your fears are completely unfounded.

There are many advantages to using tickets instead of coins. The primary reason is that it saves us a ton of money. A stack of 200 tickets sitting in the printer can last for days. If the same machine has coins, it might have to have its coin hopper filled multiple times a day. The labor savings from just that are incredible. It also prevents people from having to wait for an attendant to fill an empty hopper when they cash out. Happier customers stay longer, spend more money, and come back more often.

Coins have to be collected, counted, wrapped or bagged, and redistributed, and they are very heavy. My casino has two people to handle the paper distribution. It would take 40-50 additional people to do all coin handling.

Contrary to popular myth, we can't change what a machine does on the fly, nor do we need to. A slot machine has a theoretical mathematical hold percentage that is in our favor. It varies from day to day and week to week, but over the life of the machine it almost always comes very close to the theoretical. We don't need to cheat. We can give you back 99% of what you put in and still make money. Most of the time you'll take your 99% and put it in again. Then we'll take 1% of that. And you'll do it again. And again. That's how we make money.

We don't need to track you with barcoded tickets, we do that with player's club cards. We entice you to use cards by giving you comps based on how much you put into our machines. You don't have to use a card if you don't want to. The only reason the tickets have barcodes is so that the bill validator can read it. The unique number on the ticket is there so that the machine can query the back-end system to validate it as a good ticket. Nothing more.

There is one real reason they do this. (1)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7154136)

Money. It's all about the money.

It costs money to have change girls walking around 24/7. It costs money to have someone sitting in the change booth waiting to dump your bucket o' change into the counter and hand you the cash equivalent.

Now, you can sit down, put $20 into the machine and play to your hearts content and never touch a coin (which means they reduce the number of free moist towelettes they hand out to wash that 'coin residue' off your hands). If you happen to win then you take your barcoded receipt to a fancy change machine, insert the receipt into the bill acceptor and presto-chango out pops cash money.

Total number of employees you had to directly deal with? Zero. Total amount of money spent employing those Zero people? Zero dollars.

Don't believe me? Buy any book about Vegas and read it. Money is the only reason anything ever happens in Vegas.
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