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Sound of Silence

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Maybe it’s me, but you just don’t see or hear jackpots like in the past. But here’s the interesting thing. The paybacks of where I play, according to Strictly Slots, which publishes slot returns percentages, are about the same. Any thoughts on this? Gerald C.

Taking the slot paybacks reported by your state gaming commission and published by Strictly Slots at face value, consider, Gerald, that you are seeing and hearing fewer jackpots compared to yesteryear, because most casinos today operate with ticket system machines. The “sounds of winning,” thrummed out by those loud metal drop bowls that caught the slugs when your slot was paying off, are of times past. These deep pans made a heck of a lot of happy noise when the coins dropped, creating the misimpression that people were winning, and winning big.

Also, Gerald, with ticket system machines, the slot usually doesn’t lock up and set off its jingle for a win of under $1,200; otherwise, everything less is added to the credit meter. Hand pays and hopper fills have also been reduced considerably with ticket machines.

The sense of great luck created by the clatter of falling coins is really nothing more than an illusion designed to stir interest in playing slot machines, but suggestible players mistake these audible events for increased jackpots.

Dear Mark: Last week you wrote that a royal flush occurs about every 40,000 hands. I’ve had a few over the years, besides, we have decent machines (9/6) where I play that keeps me in the game longer to get one. Well, Saturday night I hit my first, naturally dealt royal flush on a dollar machine. Didn’t even have to hit the hold button. What are the odds of that happening? It has to be way more than 40,000 to one. Jim D.

On a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine -- 9/6 meaning a video poker machine that pays nine for the full house, six for a flush -- a royal flush appears, on average, once in every 40,390 hands. Ah, but that natural royal -- that’s a delight that occurs only once per 649,740 hands. There’s nothing better than no toil and a hand pay of crispy $100’s.

Dear Mark: If a dealer places the dealt cards into a shuffling machine immediately after each hand, is there any advantage to a player who uses a card counting system? How about a player who doesn’t? George R.

Even though continuous shuffling machines do NOT affect the odds of the game, they are of NO advantage for the counter, basic strategy player, or any player for that matter. What continuous shuffling machines and non-continuous shufflers alike will do is to cause the average player to lose more, simply because more hands are dealt per hour.

Unlike dealing a hand-shuffled game, the dealer never has to break to shuffle cards. With a built-in edge against the average player, along with an increase in the number of hands dealt, the casino enjoys more of an opportunity to whittle away at your wallet.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “I am not the least interested in the game, nor in whether I win or lose. I am only interested in whether or not the amount is large enough to be noticed.” - Andre Citroen (d 1935) French motor-car tycoon