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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Shills at slots?

Shills at slots?

11 January 2018

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: This happened a long time ago, but I've always wondered if something was up. Maybe you have some insight.

Early 1990s, my wife and I were in a casino for the first time. This other couple came up to us, both carrying buckets of dollar tokens.

The woman said, "You wouldn't believe it. You HAVE to play that machine," and she pointed to a dollar machine. The man added, "We've been playing all weekend. It's paid for our trip and then some. Now we have to go home."

They left, and we tried the machine and didn't win anything. Do you think they were plants?

ANSWER: Use of shills is prohibited in some jurisdictions, and where allowed is more common on table games than slots. However, there have been times when casinos have used shills to try to get slot players excited about playing.

One of the most overt examples was in downtown Las Vegas at about the time you describe. A casino had a roped-off area with two slot machines outside the door. A player was raking in the big bucks, pulling the handle on one machine while dollar coins poured out the other. He was surrounded by full coin buckets and a security guard.

When the player left, the machines were shut down. They were never open to the public.

The apparent winner was a house player, and the casino kept all winnings, but passers-by were supposed to get the idea that this was the home of hot slots.

I don't see anything quite so overt anymore. Your incident involved a couple reaching only one player at a time, and I can't say for sure the man and woman were shills. But I wouldn't discount the possibility, either.

QUESTION: In Deuces Wild video poker, I've noticed that some games pay 3-for-1 on flushes and some pay only 2-for-1, while they all seem to pay 2-for-1 on straights.

To me, that makes it pretty obvious that if flushes pay 3-for-1 and you have an hand that includes both four parts of a flush and four parts of a straight, then you should hold the four parts of a flush.

What if both pay 2-for-1? Should I still go for the flush? I'm talking about a hand like 4, 5, 7, 10 of hearts along with a 6 of spades. So the straight is 4-5-6-7, so with the spade included, there would be no chance of drawing a flush. If you hold the hearts, they're 4-5-7-10, so there's no chance of a straight flush.

ANSWER: In Deuces Wild, the chances of completing a four-card flush are equal to the chances of completing a four-card, open-ended straight.

Starting with 4-5-6-7, you can complete the straight with any of the four 3s, any of the four 8s and any of the four wild 2s. Twelve of the 47 cards available for draw would give you straight.

Starting with four hearts, you can complete the flush with any of the four 2s, including the 2 of hearts. There are eight other hearts available in addition to the 2, again giving you 12 possible draws to complete the flush.

Chances of completing the flush and straight are equal, so it's a better play to go for the flush when it pays more. If flush and straight pay the same amount, then you could flip a coin. Either draw would give you the same average payback.

Take care, however. If the four parts of a flush include a straight flush possibility, then the flush draw is the better play.

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 fscobe@optonline.net.

John Grochowski
John  Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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