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Reader Charmed by the Due Factor

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: We have a progressive at the casino where I play that hasn’t been hit for over a year. My wife and I play it figuring it is due. Are machines ever due to hit? Ted K.

Ah, the due factor, and is there such a thing? Truth be told, Ted, due factor thinking is widespread amongst gamblers, but don’t be fooled and fall prey to its seductiveness as well.

The due factor essentially refers to the idea that a machine’s performance is about to change because of an extended streak in the immediate past, be it wins or loses. But, Ted, a slot machine is never "due to hit,” simply because slot machines operate randomly, without any predictive value as to what will happen with the next pull of the handle. Every spin is random and independent of all past spins.

Sure, the machine you and your spouse have been playing hasn’t been hit in over a year, but any machine over an extended period of time can go without the highest jackpot being hit. The machine could as well have two large payouts in short order.

No amount of play, Ted, will change the pre-determined odds of hitting a winning combination on any slot machine. Although you were not machine - or jackpot - specific, if the machine you were playing is programmed for a one in 64,256,512 chance of hitting the big one, then there is that one in 64,256,512 chance on each whirl of the wheels.

And even if you, Ted, full of No Doz and with a Tarzan right arm were to yank the handle 64,256,511 times, the odds STILL remain 64,256,512 to one on the next spin of hitting that progressive jackpot. Preferably, you might want to hit the spin button instead to avoid a rotator cuff injury.

Dear Mark: I like to play multi-hand video poker, but one thing I have always wondered is where the draw cards come from. When I select the cards I want to keep, then draw, does each hand use a separate deck, or is it something different? Jim R.

As you know, Jim, Multi-Hand Video Poker is the twin sister of conventional video poker, except that you can play “up to” 100 hands at a time.

When you play Multi-Hand Video Poker, once you hit the Deal button you will note on the screen that each hand you are playing (from the 1st to the 100th) will contain the same five cards.

Just as in conventional video poker, you choose your keepers. All of the favorable cards you choose to hold from the initial hand are copied to each remaining hand played. When you’re ready to draw new cards, you click the Draw button.

For each hand you play, a random set of replacement cards is drawn; each dealt from a separate deck, but with the initially dealt five cards removed from each deck. Consequently, Jim, for the rest of the game, the cards are drawn, each from its own uniquely evolving deck.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “There are three kinds of cards – good cards, bad cards and indifferent cards. You must play them according to what they are.” —Nico Zographos, Renowned 1920s and 30s baccarat gambler