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Best of Bob Dancer

Gaming Guru

 

Coins in the Tray --- A Waste

27 September 1999

When I started playing video poker several years ago, quarter deuces wild was my game of choice. Four deuces is a fun hand in this game. It happens every eight hours or so, and you get a thousand quarters ($250) spilling into the tray. What fun! What a waste!

Frequently, the machines would run out of money --- requiring a hopper fill. It would take somewhere between five and fifteen minutes to get going again, depending upon how busy the casino was. Taking the money to the booth to cash in, about a fourth of the time it was a quarter short or a quarter long. Returning to the machine, I would frequently end up putting all of the money in again. The net effect of all this was fifteen minutes of idle time. I was there to play, and I was out of action.

When I progressed to dollar machines, the game I played was double bonus. Each four of a kind returned at least 250 coins, including some for 400. At most casinos, coin-spills happened whenever more than 400 credits would result from a payoff. Sometimes hopper fills were necessary. A big waste of time.

Some casinos have come up with a better way. One solution is to not let dollars spill until $600, rather than $400. This makes a big difference. Other casinos have bags of money under each machine. This speeds up hopper fills, and this is good, but a better solution is to greatly reduce the number of hopper fills.

One casino doesn't spill coins until $1200. Many $800 jackpots, which used to be hand-pays, now just get added in. When you cash out, if your total is above $400, you get a hand-pay. If your total is $400 or less, the coins fall through when you cash out. This system, is much superior to the earlier system. It is better for the players. It is better for the house.

The players get to play more. And let's face it, that's why they are there. They do not enjoy waiting fifteen minutes for a hopper fill. The casinos want the players to play more. Casinos make no money while their customers are sitting around waiting for a fill. And casinos benefit from happier players.

On Triple Play and Lucky Draw machines, several casinos let the credits go up even higher. This is wonderful. This speeds up the game and adds to the enjoyment.

There are still IRS regulations affecting jackpots of $1200 and higher. These must still be hand pays. There is paperwork to be filled out. But for smaller jackpots, including $1,000 royal flushes on quarter machines, there is no reason at all for the machine to not just rack up the credits.

Changing the formula for hand-pays would not work well at those casinos that base their comps on jackpots. Messing with a well-established comp policy will create major problems. Similarly, if a royal flush entitles the player to special benefits (such as a free meal, or jacket, or double pay for the second one), then you would want all royals to be hand-pays even if no tax form were involved.

How hard is it for a casino to change the machines to just rack up the credits? Technically, not hard at all. Although the newer machines have more options than the older ones, each machine can be adjusted in less than a minute. Modern video poker machines have very adjustable settings. The more difficult factor is to have casino management decide to make this change. One purpose of this column is to lobby for just that. Perhaps bringing the subject up publicly is an effective instrument for change. If your favorite casino has coin spills at relatively low levels, ask them to consider letting the credits rack up.

If you are a person who likes to cash out frequently, the change I am proposing doesn't affect you at all. Nobody has to let the credits pile up. Whenever you want to cash out is okay. It's your option.

There is one group of people who might be against this change. Casino employees whose job it is to pay jackpots will be adversely affected. They might enjoy the fact that fewer hopper fills are required, but they won't like the decrease in hand-pays. The main time these employees get tipped is when a happy customer gives them something right after a big win. Hand-pays are "money making opportunities" for floor people. Reducing the number of these opportunities may well seriously affect the economics of this job. This would be mitigated somewhat by the added hand-pays at the end of play. A player who accumulates a lot of credits will still need to deal with a floor-person at the end of play. Some players will choose to tip at this time.

That's it for this time. Until next time, go out and hit a royal flush.

Bob Dancer
Bob Dancer is America’s premier video poker authority.
His booklets Video Poker Reports: Deuces Wild, 9/6 Jacks or Better, and 10/7 Double Bonus are considered the most accurate strategies ever devised for these games.

Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker is the premier computer trainer for video poker. It requires Windows 95 or newer, and has 15 of the most popular games, including Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Double Joker, etc. plus the ability to load in most other games. It has won several competitions for being the best video poker software.

Bob Dancer Websites:

www.zamzone.com
Bob Dancer
Bob Dancer is America’s premier video poker authority.
His booklets Video Poker Reports: Deuces Wild, 9/6 Jacks or Better, and 10/7 Double Bonus are considered the most accurate strategies ever devised for these games.

Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker is the premier computer trainer for video poker. It requires Windows 95 or newer, and has 15 of the most popular games, including Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Double Joker, etc. plus the ability to load in most other games. It has won several competitions for being the best video poker software.

Bob Dancer Websites:

www.zamzone.com