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Slot players need not fear mid-game switch via server
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Slot players need not fear mid-game switch via server

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A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. Should we slots players be worried about casinos changing over to server-based management of their payback percentages on slots instead of the casinos having to replace chips as they have been doing it? I’m concerned that they won’t like me winning on the same machines repeatedly and so they’ll change the payback percentage without me knowing it while I’m playing.

A. The situation you describe is illegal and well regulated in states that use server-based slots.

No state permits a changeover when someone is playing. Many require machines to post notices of a change. Beginning with the first field tests of server-based systems, Nevada required that any change must come when no one is playing, that a machine must display a notice that a change is in progress, and then must display that a change has been made before the new or revised game could be activated,

States have their own methods and procedures to certain requirements are met. Common is a double-lock system, where a casino slot administrator and a gaming board agent must be in the server room at the same time, must log in on separate terminals, and the agent must approve changes being made by the admin.

The addition of server-based games has gone more slowly than casinos and manufacturers had hoped a decade ago. Expense is an issue. But where they are in use, I wouldn’t worry about your game being changed while you’re playing.

Q. I’ve always heard that dollar slots pay more than quarters and quarters pay more than pennies, with higher paybacks for higher coins.

Does that apply to video poker, too? If it does, how does that work? Do they make the high cards come up more than the low cards? Do you get four Aces more on a dollar machine than on quarters or nickels?

A. In licensed casinos in the United States that use games with random number generators — Class 3 games, to use tribal casino nomenclature — video poker machines with the same pay tables have the same payback percentages regardless of coin denomination.

A 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker game has a theoretical payback percentage of 98.98 percent with expert play at any coin denomination. Lower the full house payback to 8-for-1 and the flush return to 5-for-1 to change the game to 8-5 Double Double Bonus, and the overall return drops to 96.79 percent regardless of whether you’re playing for nickels, quarters, dollars or any other coin denomination.

The odds of drawing any hand don’t change just because you’re betting more or less money. The payback percentages change because you’re being paid more on winners on higher-percentage games.

If a casino wants its video poker games to pay more on higher-denomination games, it can do that by putting higher pay tables on higher denominations — for example, 9-6 DDB on dollars and 8-5 DDB on quarters.

But if you see 9-6 DDB on quarters and 8-5 DDB on dollars, then the quarter games pay the higher percentage.

We see that sometimes on very high-paying games. Games such as full-pay Deuces Wild and 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker, where the expert player has a slight mathematical edge, are nearly extinct on dollar level but can occasionally be found on quarter machines. Casinos recognize those pay tables attract business, but are loathe to offer then at high denominations where potential profits are big enough that experts rush in and crowd out average players.

Regardless, a glance at the pay table can tell you which video poker games are the higher-paying.

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