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John Robison

John  Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming's leading publications. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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An Online Casino Scam?

23 Apr 2005

By John Robison

Hi, there,

I want to learn about the mathematics in the slot machines, but I don't know any book with explanations about probabilities. Can you suggest one?

Thanks a lot,

Dear Richard,

A great book for the math of slots is Casino Operations Management by Jim Kilby. The first edition has an extensive section on slots. I checked on Amazon and I see that there is now a second edition available. I assume it has at least as large a slot section as the first edition, but I don't know for sure because I just ordered it.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

How much should you start out playing, like in the Double and Triple Diamond 10-cent machines?

I seem to have a lot of fun playing them but never win much. I also play the 5x Pay a lot and 10x Pay.

Any advice would be appreciated!


How much you should play per machine depends on your bankroll. If you want to have a good chance at playing for an hour or so on a machine, I suggest you start with enough money to fund 50-100 spins. My goal in suggesting this amount is to have enough money to see you through most of the cold spells you might experience while playing.

It sounds like you've found the right amount for you. You say that you have a lot of fun playing the machines. That's what it's all about.

As for never winning much, the machines you play are more volatile than other machines -- that is, they will tend to give you fewer winning sessions than other machines, but the amount you win when you do win will tend to be larger.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Hello, John,

I wanted to report the following online casino scam for the benefit of your readers.

Last month, I had planned to sign up with an online casino called "Crown Vegas" because they offered progressive jackpots and video keno. I proceeded to read their payment rules and encountered a very strange policy that stated that the maximum possible win is 10X per investment. Since that seemed to be an odd policy, I e-mailed Crown Vegas for clarification and they actually confirmed my fears. As you can see by their response below, if I were to buy in for only $40 and then win a huge keno jackpot, Crown Vegas would pay me a maximum of $400 and void the entire remainder of the jackpot.

This is an absolutely incredible scam and I think your readers should be made aware. I attached my correspondence with Crown Vegas so you could see for yourself.

Thank you, John!

As stated in this writer's letter, he attached his correspondence with Crown Vegas, but I have not reprinted it here.

I think we have a classic case of the e-mail support person not reading the e-mail carefully. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Let's start with some history.

Online casinos frequently give signup bonuses. You used to be able to make money from these promotions (see articles by John May on this site). Then the casinos got smart and put in rules, like minimum play requirements and maximum cashouts, to protect their profits.

I read the promotion rules on the Crown Vegas site and my head is still spinning 15 minutes later. Talk about confusing. In the middle of the page are the minimum play and maximum cashout rules the writer described.

Turning to this writer's e-mail to Crown Vegas support, he asked two questions. The first question was if he understood the maximum cashout rules on the "initial deposit promotion" correctly. The second question was if the same rule applied to future deposits.

Crown Vegas answered the first question, but not the second in their reply. Just another instance of an e-mail support person not taking the time to read an e-mail carefully and answer all of the questions in it.

If I understood the Crown Vegas rules, the maximum cashout applies only when you use a matching bonus promotion on your deposit. There's no maximum when you don't use a promotion. Because you can only use a promotion once, chances are you won't be making too many deposits with promotions attached if you play there for any length of time.

I can see having a minimum play requirement. A land-based casino can give players money with fewer strings attached because it's difficult for players to move to a different casino. Most players end up giving the casino quite a few chances to win the money back. Online, however, you can be at a different casino with just a few clicks and you never even have to get out of your chair!

A maximum cashout rule, however, is unconscionable. If players won the money fair and square, they should get it. Turning $5000 jackpots into $400 jackpots seems to me to be a good way to artificially lower the paybacks on their games. I'd like to know where the $4600 that got voided goes -- to charity or their bottom line?

If you chose to play at Crown Vegas and use one of their promotions, I suggest you stick to table games to minimize your chances of being affected by this rule. Or, you can take your chances on the slots -- after all, chances are you won't hit a big jackpot -- but remember that you'll have to play off or forfeit anything more than 10x your deposit.

If anyone from Crown Vegas would like to correct my interpretation of their rules or explain why they have these rules, I would be happy to print the response in a future column.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at

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