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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Ask the Slot Expert: Be careful with touch-sensitive displays in button decks on a slot machine

Ask the Slot Expert: Be careful with touch-sensitive displays in button decks on a slot machine

8 August 2018

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: A warning about 88 Fortunes slot machines! This can actually apply to many slot machines.

Recently I sat down to play an 88 Fortunes machine at Resorts Catskills. I inserted my player card and then inserted a $20 bill.

As I let go of the bill, my pinky knuckle must have touched the surface a couple of inches in front of the acceptor for inserting bills or tickets, which is level with the deck of the machine. Right at that spot is a touchpad for "same play" or something similar because the machine played $8.80 while I was attempting to insert another $20 bill.

I had an attendant look at the machine and I advised that I had not even selected an amount of play yet. You cannot select the number of lines as it is pre-set, all you can select is the amount of wager.

The tech said whatever had happened, it was a legal play and she could not do anything.

I see this as a design flaw and hope to warn other players to be very careful when inserting bills or tickets into any slot machine. This machine had remained "on" with a wager of $8.80 selected. In my opinion, once a player cashes out, the machine should reset to be unplayable until you insert bills or a ticket and the credit meter registers and then the player physically establishes/selects the number of lines of play and/or the amount of the wager for line or per play.

The good news is that I inserted the other $20, started with $31.20 instead of $40, played the monster, and cashed out at $123. The rest of the day I was extremely careful to "read the board" and make sure this did not happen again.

There should not be anything directly in front of the bill/ticket acceptor that could unintentionally be touched or brushed against that could possibly activate a play.

Answer: These touch-sensitive displays embedded in the button deck are a great addition to the slot machine. In addition to displaying the betting options, the displays may show animations related to what is happening on the main display. They may also make it a little bit easier for a player to make a choice in a bonus round by duplicating the options on the display. The player can either reach out and touch the main screen or touch the display in the deck. Because it's just another touch-sensitive display, the slot designers can do anything they want with it.

I had my own problem with the touch-sensitive display on a slot machine's deck this past weekend.

I was playing the new Lord of the Rings slot machine. This casino disabled the volume control on the machine and left it set on ear-splitting. Sometimes there's not much space on which to put a drink on the sides of the decks. I put my iced coffee on some free space on the left of the deck and started playing max coins.

After a particularly noisy and rumbly bonus round, the background behind the reels on the main display changed from a red-based scene from Mordor to a green-based scene from the Shire. And the machine started playing without my pressing a button.

At first I thought I was in a re-spin feature or some sort of bonus round and somehow missed the introduction to it. Or I had somehow triggered an auto-play feature.

But it couldn't be auto-play. Most of the games I play in the online "just for fun" casinos run by Station Casino and Westgate have auto-play options, but auto-play is not permitted on a machine in a Nevada casino.

Then I noticed that the bet level displayed on the screen was the minimum. The vibrations were so strong from the noise (music and battle sounds) in the bonus round, my iced coffee had moved on the deck and stopped touching a portion of the display that had the minimum bet button. My iced coffee had started playing the machine.

You make a very practical and simple suggestion. When a player cashes out, disable the Repeat Bet button until the player presses a bet level button.

Some multi-game video poker machines work in a similar fashion. After you select a paytable, the Deal/Draw button is disabled until players indicate how much they want to bet on the hand. After the first hand is played, the Deal/Draw button can be used to repeat the last bet.

Although I sympathize with your predicament, I think the casino made the right call. At least your story had a happy ending.


Question: Regarding Fu Dao Le: I have played this game all over the place.

In southern Colorado I hit gong and gong and won over $8,000 on a $2.08 bet. In southern Washington state, I did just as well with bonus after bonus, and so did the other players.

In Alabama, things did not go so well. And in Nevada, nothing at all!

My advice is: Pick a good tribe to gamble with and stay away from the con artists in Nevada!

Answer: Well, this certainly goes counter to most of the e-mails I receive. Players usually complain about how tight the machines are in Native American casinos and laud how loose they are in (at least some) Nevada casinos.

I don't know how much play you gave these machines. We have to be careful about drawing conclusions from limited play.

And there could be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy effect here also. When you hit a cold streak, you may give up playing and decide the machines are tight. You keep playing when a machine is hot, though. And if a hot machine should happen to hit a cold streak, you're more likely to play through it because the machine was hot before. A cold streak that happens in the middle of play is much less significant than one that happens at the beginning of play.

I had something similar happen with the new Game of Thrones machine. The first time I tried it, at Casino A, I had a number of trips to the bonus round and the bonus features on the main game were triggered frequently. I had a few Stormborn wins. I won a few hundred dollars.

The second time I played it, across the street at Casino B, "nothing at all," to quote you.

Well, not nothing at all, but not much. Bonus rounds and features were scarce, as were winning combinations on the main game. This machine took back most of what I had won from the first machine.

The third time, at Casino C, the bonus rounds and features were hitting again and I won over $500. I had Stormborn wins again.

It seems like the machine at Casino B is tight, but I really don't have enough observations to draw any conclusions. And you usually don't win much on the main game and you get the majority of your winnings from the bonus rounds and features. (By the way, the bonus features add wilds or apply a multiplier to the main game to boost your winnings from it.) These sorts of games that load much of the winnings into bonuses can appear tight if you hit a spell when the bonuses aren't triggered.

I had some time to kill on Saturday between my last session in a slot tournament and the second chance drawing for non-winners. This casino had a Monty Python and the Holy Grail slot I had played a little before. I didn't do well on it. It's another game where you don't usually win much on the main game and need the bonus rounds and features to hit to go away a winner. I was determined to get to the Holy Grail bonus this time.

As in the past, I didn't hit much on the main game. I watched the credit meter fall and had to put in more money. But then I hit the Killer Bunny bonus a few times and that gave me the bankroll to continue on my quest. Not too long before I was going to have to give up and go to the drawing, I reached the Holy Grail of bonuses on the machine: the Holy Grail bonus round. I won one of the middle jackpots, about $60. I actually had won much more on some of the Killer Bunny bonuses. Nevertheless, I won a few hundred on the machine.



Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 
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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