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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Ask the Slot Expert: Hard Rock Atlantic City stunning improvement over Taj Mahal

Ask the Slot Expert: Hard Rock Atlantic City stunning improvement over Taj Mahal

13 March 2019

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: Since the Hard Rock Casino opened in Atlantic City this past summer, it has quickly become our favorite destination. They did a fantastic job of renovating the outdated Taj Mahal. The new place is stunning and they have been very generous.

The question that I have for you relates to the Hard Rock Casinos in Florida, as well as other destinations. It had been mentioned that the Atlantic City Hard Rock was going to be tied in with the other casinos in the chain as far as their players cards, etc.

Have you heard anything regarding this development?

Answer: I checked out the photos on the Hard Rock Atlantic City's website. Wow! What a change from the Taj Mahal.

The last time I was at the Taj was in 2010. My room was very nice, I have to admit. But the casino . . . I have the impression that the Trump organization thought that the casino didn't need any further investment after it opened. No need to replace slot pedestals and bankettes and chairs with cigarette burns. And, from what I've heard, things only got worse as business got worse. The minimal investment in maintaining the casino the company had been making went to zero.

I don't have any inside information on the Atlantic City Hard Rock's plans for its players club. In just the few years I've been in Las Vegas, I've seen a common scenario play out with players clubs and acquisitions. The newly acquired property maintains its existing players club for so long that it appears as if it will remain independent of the parent company's loyalty program. Eventually economies of scale rule and the new property's club folds into the parent company's club, albeit sometimes with slightly different rules. Boyd works this way with two sets of rules for its casinos in Las Vegas and different rules for its properties around the country. Station Casinos also has slight differences between its Station-branded casinos, its Fiesta-branded casinos, its Wildfire-branded casinos and Palms. In all cases, though, the main idea is this tagline from one of the first company-wide rewards programs — earn here, redeem there.

I see a problem with doing something similar with the Hard Rock casinos. Rather than being owned and operated by the parent company, Hard Rock casinos have different owners. The Seminole tribe owns and operates some properties and I think all the others are joint ventures.

With Boyd and Stations, one property offering something to an alien player is just keeping the player in the family. I can see the Hard Rock joint venture partners objecting to giving away something for the benefit of the Hard Rock company and each reciprocal agreement requiring negotiations. On the other hand, some sort of lagniappe might be all it takes to get a traveling player to play and stay at a Hard Rock instead of a competitor.

It's unfortunate for players because, in these days of one card for many properties, they might think that Hard Rock is Hard Rock. The properties seem to be lowering expectations of unity, at least, by using a few different names for their players clubs. In my quick search for Hard Rock cross promotions, the only club with "earn here, redeem there" is the Seminole Wild Card in Florida.

Trying to see through the haze in my crystal ball, I predict that there will be some limited cross promotions between the properties but nothing like what you see when one company owns and operates all of the properties.

Question: I’ve been playing 88 Fortunes for a few years now and have always been getting just the Mini and Minor jackpots. Always suspected that’s all I would get, and it’s a hoax by the casinos to scam us. I was almost on the verge of stopping playing the machine altogether until an ex-colleague showed me this picture [of a Duo Fu Duo Cai machine paying the Grand prize of $240,089.20]. [Note: Not U.S. dollars. My guess is Macau pataca, so this jackpot was about US$30,000.]

That was when I rekindled my belief and I was lucky enough to strike the Major prize once last year.

I've never gotten the Grand or even seen it happen. The Major I had just appeared out of nowhere. I was expecting to hit a third Mini or Minor but — bam! — the third Major just popped up when I flipped the coin. Boy, I was so excited by it.

Does it works the same for Grand prize as well?

I saw your article saying the Major and Grand prizes won’t appear in every bonus round and, with that being said, how do we know when or what is the amount of these prizes to be accumulated before they will pay out?

Will there be any ways to increase our odds?

I don’t visit the casino frequently, probably once every two to three months. But 88 Fortunes is my favorite slot machine. I’m curious how to beat the grand prize in this game.

Is it ultimately still down to luck?

Answer: Last question first: Yes, it is just luck.

I haven't been able to get a PAR sheet for an 88 Fortunes game and the manufacturer has not replied to my email asking questions about the bonus round. I have been able to make an educated guess about how the machines operate based on what a slot director told me.

When the bonus round is triggered, the program polls the RNG to determine which progressive you will win. It then randomly places six of those icons on the field and fills the rest of the field with two icons for each of the remaining three progressives. It doesn't matter what you choose. Only one of the progressives has three icons on the field.

Each progressive works in pretty much the same way. You choose and choose and end up with two icons for each progressive and then — bam! — you get the third icon for whichever progressive was chosen for you, be it Mini, Minor, Major or Grand.

There's no way to know when the progressives will be paid. The bonus round is triggered at random and the progressive you win is chosen at random.

I have not been able to get a definitive answer for whether higher bets have better chances at the higher progressives. I wouldn't be surprised if they do because casinos want to give incentives to make larger bets and they also usually want to give a higher payback to players who make higher bets, but I don't know for sure. In any case, a reader wrote that he once got the Grand on a minimum bet, so hitting the Grand is possible on all bet sizes.

Finally, I don't know about in the jurisdiction where you play, but here in the United States no gaming regulator would approve a machine that advertises a payout that cannot be hit by a player unless the signage makes it abundantly clear that a max bet or a bet above a certain amount is required to be eligible for it. I would assume that your jurisdiction has a similar requirement, otherwise machines that advertise unobtainable jackpots would be true scams.

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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