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1967 Harolds Club calendar

There isn't a hidden switch to make you win or lose. It's all random either in the computer chip or in the mechanical slot machines of yesterday. It used to be that the physical reel strip alone determined the outcome. Put more bell symbols on the reels and the machine is going to hit three bells more often. Now the reel strip is just a display device--the chip in the machine determines what you hit and the reels are going to spin to that outcome. In the late 1980's the Universal slot machine manufacturer was told by gaming authorities they couldn't use their "near miss" feature. The computer determined you were not going to win on the next spin so it decided to show something close, two jackpot symbols on the payline, for instance, and one symbol above the line. This was ruled illegal by the Nevada Gaming Commission--just show the random outcome, don't mess with the results even if there isn't a winning combination. Whether you win or lose is determined by the chip in a totally random fashion. The person opening the machine has no control over this and the chips are not changed when you go to dinner. The machines are purely luck, the odds are set by the chip and you're going to win some and lose some. On large jackpots, usually over $25,000, it's customary to check the chip or the integrity of the seal over the locked chip compartment to make sure it hasn't been tampered with. The casino tracks the win/loss on each machine closely and if it doesn't make the percentage it's supposed to make for the house it's gone from the casino floor.

Speaking of percentages, like 98.4% payback, that's a percentage based on a cycle, meaning every possible combination hitting once. On a three reel slot machine with 64 stops on each reel, that cycle would be 64x64x64 (64 to the third power), or 262,144 combinations. Let's say it's a three coin dollar machine. That cycle would generate $786,432 ($3 times 262,144 combinations or spins) and the machine would pay back $773,849 or 98.4%. But the peaks and valleys in this cycle are extreme and I'll give you an example. A five coin quarter poker machine has a royal flush payout of $1,000. Let's say ten people play that machine with $100 apiece and they each hit absolutely nothing, not even a pair. These ten people are probably unhappy, $100 each and not one payout! But the next person comes along and hits the royal flush for $1,000. What's the percentage paid out by the machine? 100%!

When you you play a hand on a poker machine it starts by picking ten cards at random. You see the first five cards on the deal and if you draw one card you see the sixth card the machine has selected, draw two cards and you see the sixth and seventh cards, etc. The position of the card on the screen does not matter, just like dealing a deck of cards at home. You see the next card in the shuffled (or random) deck. There is not a card behind each card that will only go into that position.

The cycle on a poker machine (with each card in an exact position) is 52x51x50x49x48. You start with a 52 card deck and the next card is drawn from the remaining 51 cards, etc. This is 311,875,200, every combination hitting once, and you would divide this number by the 4 suits if you were playing for a bonus such as a royal in sequence starting with the 10 for instance. On a regular royal the position doesn't matter so you divide 311,875,200 by 5x4x3x2x1=120 and the new number is 2,598,960. There are four suits for a royal flush so the odds are 649,740 to 1 for a royal dealt on the first 5 cards. If you're dealt 4 cards to the royal the odds are 47 to 1 for drawing the card you need and if you're dealt 3 cards to the royal the odds are 1081 to 1 (47x46 divided by 2x1).

A note about the difference between slot machines and poker or keno machines. You can change the reel strip on a slot machine to include more (or fewer) paying combinations but you can't change the deck on a poker machine and you can't change the 80 number field on a keno machine. The 52 card deck (or variations, with jokers, etc.) is the same no matter where you play and it's not programmed to hit any certain combination. The house can increase their win by changing the pay table, 8 instead of 9 coins on a full house, for instance. Look for a machine that offers the best pays.

All gone: Nevada Club, Primadonna, Overland, Harolds Club, Money Tree
All gone: Nevada Club, Primadonna, Overland, Harolds, Money Tree

For more slot machine information see Figuring the Odds

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