A New Experience for Me

A New Experience for Me

I’ve had an amazing experience that is new to me as a gambler.

I’ve been learning a bit about advantage slots — and playing them with moderate success. I’m not going to go into detail, but some games are the type that if one particular number is above 40 and another particular number is above 30, the player has the advantage for some length of time. 

I know of no specific game where 40 and 30 are the key numbers. I’m just giving an example so you know in general what I’m talking about. The lady who taught me most about these slots made me agree before we started that I would not be teaching the world how to do it. 

Sometimes I play for 75¢ a hand. Sometimes for more than $30. But even the $30 game is on a machine based in pennies. You usually have a choice of having the game display credit and wins in coins or pennies. So winning $500 on one hand, you can decide whether you want to see that as $500 or 5,000 coins.

You can play this particular game in denominations of 1¢, 2¢, 5¢, and 10¢ all on the same machine, and different situations determine whether you bet 75 coins, 150, 225, or 300 base coins. With those four denominations and four possible numbers of coins to wager, that’s sixteen different situations you need to evaluate per machine — looking for one number being at least 40 and another number being at least 30. (And 80¢ and 88¢ are also popular smallest bets — there are others.)

Once you find such a situation, you sit down and start to play. Some conditions you only find once in a blue moon, and when you do, it’s frequently over in five hands. There are other games that when they finally get into a positive state, you need to plan to be there for somewhere between two and nine hours until you play the game to the completion of the positive state.

The first time the following amazing situation happened to me, I was on a machine, hitting a button for a little more than $1.50 every spin, knowing I would be there for a while. I knew what condition had to happen before I was done, but I didn’t know whether it would come about in 30 minutes or in four hours. So, I was just hitting the button, in a similar manner to how players play slot tournaments (only not so aggressively. I need to pace myself. Preparing to play long hours is different than competing in a five-minute tournament, but the action itself is similar.)

In two separate incidents, a person came up and gave me money! This has NEVER happened to me playing video poker. But in slots, apparently it isn’t so rare. On the first day this happened, the money was given to me in the form of slot cash out tickets worth 24¢ and 32¢.

The tickets came from being the “too small to bet” residuals that these players ended up with at the end of their play. On most machines there is a minimum amount you can bet — perhaps 50¢ or 88¢. If you have less than that, you can cash it out, but can’t play the game until you submit more money.

It’s not easy at some casinos to cash these tickets. At some places, you need to go to the cashier cage to get the change. Even if it’s easier to get, some players don’t want a pocket full of loose change. So they give the tickets away.

I said thank you and immediately slid these tickets into my machine. At the end of the play, my ticket might well have been $1,234.29, or any other amount. The 24¢ and 32¢ were some small parts of that.

In perhaps 50 hours of playing slots, this has happened to me about 20 times. Maybe totaling $4 or $5 dollars. I’m not sure. Certainly an unremarkable amount. But one that never happened to me while playing video poker.

In video poker, it’s almost always possible to bet one coin. If you’re playing a nickel machine and you have one nickel left, you can bet it. You get worse odds than usual for betting one coin, but you can bet it. Players with small amounts of change can keep betting fewer and fewer coins until the money is eventually gone. In slots, you can’t always do that.

I sometimes wonder why I’m the recipient of this largesse. Certainly part of it is totally random. I’m playing on a machine between them and the door, and they would have given the money away to anybody sitting there. 

Part of it might be pity. After all, I’m a 75-year-old man who they might have seen playing these games for hours. It’s easy for most people to deduce that I must be losing. I therefore must need the money to feed my habit!  

But whatever the reason is, I accept it, say thank you, and slip it into the machine, and go back to hitting the button.