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HOME > HI-ROLLER > Gaming Tips > Ask the Slot Expert: Bonus rounds that end just as they start

Ask the Slot Expert: Bonus rounds that end just as they start

15 November 2017

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Overheard at the video poker machines a few days ago: One player was teaching another how to play. The teacher said to the student, "You want to hold the cards that give you the best chance of winning."

Strictly speaking, that's not the best strategy to follow. No combination of cards can give you a better chance of winning than a pat straight or flush — you have a 100% chance of winning the hand — yet for most, maybe all, video poker pay tables, you want to break a dealt straight or flush in favor of holding a four-card royal flush contained within the pat hand.

Perhaps I didn't hear the context of the mentor's statement. By best chance of winning, maybe he meant winning the most money in the long run. And in that case, you would hold the cards with the highest expected value — which may or may not be the pat hand.

Holding the combination of cards with the highest expected value is the best strategy to follow.

Question: I was playing Road Trip, $2 per spin, at the "biggest and best" casino south of Seattle. Four Road Trip symbols appeared, although only three are needed to trigger the bonus round. After successfully choosing promising multipliers and spin counts, and feeling elated, I was all set to see the credits accumulate.

Then, as the screen trip started — flat tire!

It abruptly ended everything with zero cents earned.

What? John, ever heard of such a thing or game, i.e., aborting a feature just as or before it starts?

So frustrating and feeling cheated here.

Answer: Yes, I've definitely had bonus rounds that seemed to end before they even got started. In my experience, it's been with pick-'em bonus games and I picked the collect symbol on my first pick. These at least usually also awarded some credits. I don't think I've ever had a non-interactive bonus round on which a game-ending event happened before I won anything. No matter how it happens, it's very disappointing to go from hoping for a big payday to consoling yourself on your dashed hopes.

A variation on the over before it started bonus round is the zero-credit bonus round. The bonus game plays out, but you don't win anything.

I like to play the Bally games that have playing other Bally games, like Blazing 7s, as the bonus round. When three or more symbols for the other games appear, you get to play each of the games represented by the symbols. On same variations of this concept, you get one shot at the bonus. If you don't win anything on any of the games, too bad. On the variation that I like the best, you keep playing the bonus round until you finally win something on one or more of the games. One time I didn't win anything until my third time around.

When the bonus round consists of free spins, it's also possible to win few or no credits — especially when the free spins don't use special bonus reels. I've had some sets of free spins that were very stingy with the credits. Fortunately, I don't think I've had a set that paid absolutely nothing.

If it's any consolation, the possibility of zero-credit bonus rounds makes it possible for the bonus round to have more, higher-paying instances. You just have to hope that you have better luck the next time you go to the bonus.

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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