A BOYD’S EYE VIEW OF VIDEO POKER
Video Poker FAQ: Part II by Linda Boyd
Part 2 of a 3 part series dealing with frequently asked technical questions from Arizona players.
What does “tightening” the machines mean? Often I hear players say the casino has tightened the machines for the holidays or to recoup money spent on a new casino. They mean the players are less-likely to win, but the expression is at best deceptive. Many just assume that there will be fewer winners because that’s what the casino wants but have no idea as to how this happens. In fact, players have said casinos do it by adjusting the machines so that they deal bad hands or so worse cards are received on the draw. This is not the case at all. If, however, the casino changes the pay schedule by returning fewer coins for winning combinations, known downgrading (explained in April’s issue), then the effect is the same. It’s important to know the difference in advance so you can tell if it’s just not your day or downgrading is the problem. That’s why you should check the pay schedule before you find a seat. Don’t simply assume the pay tables are the same as the last time you were there.
Can a casino change the pay schedule or the games on a video poker or slot machine remotely? Every now and then an odd-sounding situation turns out to actually be true. And so it is with casino staff having the ability to change either pay tables or games on a video poker device with just the flick of a switch. I’ve heard players say they’re in the “backroom” right now making it harder to win or a similar version of the same sinister theme. With the relatively new server-based technology they can do that and it’s perfectly legal. The technology has been available for some time but slow to arrive at many casinos due to the cost. It’s less expensive in new casinos that are wired for the system then for older ones where the carpet has to be ripped out to install the wiring. So expect it to get easier for the house to change both pay schedules and games in the future. You may find better pay tables for players during non-peak times like weekdays and the opposite on weekends and holidays. Once more, players must take the time to check things out before plopping down and inserting their money. When a mechanic checks my machine due to a technical problem can he change future hands? You may wonder why I even bring this up, but I have heard so many people make this statement that I think this misconception should be addressed. I’ve always recommended that you call a mechanic as soon as a technical problem, say a stuck button, is discovered. Some players claim that after they called the mechanic their hands changed for better or worse and insist that’s because of something the mechanic did while their machine was open. You should know that this is absolutely impossible even if the mechanic had a reason to do so. In fact, if your luck changes for better or worse then it’s simply a coincidence and has nothing whatsoever to do with anything the mechanic did. Even if you didn’t lose money due to a stuck button you should call a mechanic unless there’s another machine available at the bank you’ve selected. That’s because you have a warning that you could lose money on future hands for mechanical reasons and there’s no guarantee that the casino will pay you when the malfunction occurs. While it’s true that today’s VP devices can go back in memory and determine the dealt hands along with your holds (the newer devices are capable of going back further) you are still at the mercy of the casino. The same is true of malfunctioning free play. I played a device that subtracted the free play but never downloaded it to my machine. I lost $40 worth of free play and it was never returned, even though staff was notified and agreed the device malfunctioned. I should have sat there until they fixed the problem – I did not, and lost the free play. Stay there till it’s fixed. Linda Boyd – a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, also writes for “Southern Gaming” along with “Midwest Gaming and Travel” – Linda’s book; “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules and strategy cards for the most popular games. Look for her story in “American Casino Guide” (ACG) and her YouTube videos, also with ACG. Her radio shows will soon be available on iTunes. The Second Edition of her book is available in both paperback and kindle at 877-900-BOOK, amazon.com, bookstores or Square One Publishers. www.squareonepublishers.com
22 ARIZONA PLAYER May 2015
Arizona's most published, most distributed and most respected gaming magazine in the Southwest