EDIT - I'll answer these questions until the end of time, so please do refer to this thread if you have an aching casino question. This includes you too media, who always manages to fuck up - and I mean ROYALLY - most questions pertinent to the casino industry and gambling in general. Note to mods - maybe we can start a new subreddit called "AMA-forever" where people can ask/share information about a particular topic/subject until the end of time. Waddya think?

My short bio: I currently work for a slot machine manufacturer supporting my company's games in the state of CA. I'm also licensed in Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon. I've done it all - dealt table games, worked on shufflers, cleared coin hoppers in cash dispensing kiosks, managed a team of slot technicians all older than me, supervised slot projects, and gone to state court hearings as a consultant. After commenting on this story: Gamblers ordered to return $1.5 million they won, I was axed to do an AMA. Want to work in this industry? Want to know what's really rigged? How do the Vegas buffets make money? What's the worst thing I've seen? How many cocktail waitresses have I banged? Ask away and I'll answer truthfully!

My Proof: Pics of various licenses and W-2

Comments: 209 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

djle1226 karma

What should a person gambling in a casino know that usually doesnt know?

TheBrokenSwagger57 karma

With enough bitching and complaining, you can get a free buffet for 2 regardless if you've reached that prize level on your player card. Keep in mind if you don't have a player card, they will force you to sign up. Cashed out and ticket got stuck? Complain and ask for compensation.

Couldn't find parking? Complain and ask for compensation.

Another player is on your machine? Complain and ask for compensation.

They won't give you money but you can usually weasel a free meal somewhere in there. A buddy of mine once broke the door handle of his hotel room because he was drunk and on tilt. I told him to complain to the casino manager. He got 6 free buffets because of that...

escarg25 karma

How are casino-related AMAs usually wrong or speculative? (This is the first one I've come across. Former table games dealer here.)

TheBrokenSwagger20 karma

Hey dealer! I haven't seen many, if at all, any one with true insight into slot machines. There are actually quite a few engineers that have shown up that work on the design side of things but few of those engineers have worked on a casino floor. On the other side of the token, few casino personnel have worked on the management or compliance side. For example, very few engineers would know what an 'asset liability transfer' is. Whereas, someone working security for a casino has no clue what a PAR percentage or virtual reel would be. Just like a slot tech has no clue why they'd have to clear hands at a table once they clean their tray/rack. I hope that in some way I can bring all of this together on this AMA. Cheers!

TaiGlobal2 karma

There was an AMA a while back about a guy who worked for an underground casino. Any experience or stories dealing with those?

TheBrokenSwagger7 karma

Without revealing too many asian secrets, lots of asian people run 'underground' casinos where they put huge amounts of money up. This is usually between the community and family and it's not a nice getup like a cardroom or regular casino. Though some can be. I've seen a baccarat table in a slightly wealthy asian man's house. It was in a den and had nice felt and everything. Probably bought the table from one of those billiards room/poker table stores. He acted just like a regular casino - exchanging cash for chips, putting up his own money against people he invited over. It was pretty serious shit.

When my aunt passed away, something really weird happened and I remember into the night, all of the asian people that congregated to my grandparents' house, turned the whole joint into a casino. I recall a bunch of makeshift tables coming up and a bunch of cash coming out. Suddenly, it became this gambling hall with lots of beer, cash, and pissed off people. It's weird to think this has never been depicted in film or tv (well, sorta - like when Jack Burton is playing tiles at the beginning of 'Big trouble, Little china'). But yeah, get a large amount of Asians together and it becomes a casino, real quick.

If you ever wanted to know about secret asian shit - haven't you ever wondered why shady asian businesses that ONLY accept cash? Asians like to run untraceable business transactions that can be fudged in the books. They like to skim their day's revenue and take it to the casino. My uncles who owned a liquor store did that. They charged 10 cents for money orders, but took the cash that customers brought in and tried to double it. They were pretty good at it - taking the cash to Reno and still being able to cover the account. But a couple trips busted them and my uncle went to jail. He worked out some settlement with the state but my grandparents lost the family business due to this.

Source: am very asian... also this thread is dead so I don't expect very many to read this.

Gratefulstickers21 karma

Why do Asian people like to gamble so much?

TheBrokenSwagger48 karma

It's in our blood and culture I'd say. Most asians are superstitious and rooted in nonsensical belief. Most also have a super hard work ethic and are the product of an oppressed mindset. The way to cope is to take it out on various extra curricular activities acceptable to the 'community.' Whoring and drugs is looked down upon (most asians are pretty loyal in relationships). What else is there past that? Skydiving? No way - too expensive. Paintball shooting? No way - we were shot trying to flee the old country. Gambling? NOW there is the way I can use my luck, smarts, and feed my addictive personality legally! Plus, I've done only good things so my karma will aid in a small prize!

Also, smoking opium, cigarettes and drinking Heineken add to the addiction.

SOURCE: Am asian

TheBestVirginia3 karma

Off-topic, but I was playing a carnival game at the local casino last night and my favorite (and Asian) dealer gave a straight flush to the guy next to me to the tune of $20k, and I got in on the envy. She's also dealt the highest winning hand I've ever had there. She is focused, professional, and by the book.

TheBrokenSwagger3 karma

Make sure to tip the dealer. Their base pay is minimum wage or slightly above, so a majority of their wage is made from tips. They may have had an opportunity to move up but have stayed as a front line employee because the money is good. Congrats on the win!

mspencer71217 karma

I worked for Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs in IT from 96 to 2001. When I left they were just starting to add paper receipts for payouts, that you would take to the cage for actual payout.

I remember Security reported many incidents of theft where someone would cash out a machine and be looking for tokens, a slip of paper would come out the top, and a thief would walk by and yoink the paper and take it to be cashed out themselves.

I remember as well the wall full of fiber transceivers for card box communications, in the hold of the river boat where our AS/400 (S109405A - why do I still remember this?) and IGT and Novell Netware server was.

What have I missed in the last 15 years that's changed things annoyingly or interestingly in slots and table games?

Also, old shufflemasters are restricted items so there's no legal way to get one for home use with Cards Against Humanity cards, if I recall correctly. Right?

TheBrokenSwagger19 karma

Easy question first:

old shufflemasters are restricted items so there's no legal way to get one for home use with Cards Against Humanity cards, if I recall correctly. Right?

No, they're just super expensive. Almost every jurisdiction I know allows the old shufflers, be it Kings, Aces, BGs (the original shufflers), Deckmates, Ideals, MDs, etc. to be used at home. In fact, Michael Jordan was a client of Shufflemaster's many moons ago. Hell I used to take them home for casino night once a week from the shop. They are super expensive though. I just saw an Ace shuffler on ebay for $1599. I'm fairly certain these were the ones that all the managers asked every shop throughout the country to destroy. Most techs just brought them home. 2 or 3 at a time...instead of taking them to the dump.

I worked for Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs in IT from 96 to 2001. When I left they were just starting to add paper receipts for payouts, that you would take to the cage for actual payout. I remember Security reported many incidents of theft where someone would cash out a machine and be looking for tokens, a slip of paper would come out the top, and a thief would walk by and yoink the paper and take it to be cashed out themselves.

Many thieves still do this. It's a crime. In Colorado, taking even one penny could land you a fine. TITO is now everywhere (stands for 'ticket in,ticket out.'). The only places offering coins and hoppers do it for the nostalgia that old folks (many casino's biggest clientele) ask for.

I remember as well the wall full of fiber transceivers for card box communications, in the hold of the river boat where our AS/400 (S109405A - why do I still remember this?) and IGT and Novell Netware server was.

No more Novell. I used Novell as a network admin out of college at my first IT job! BUT, most Ameristars, despite being acquired by Pinnacle a couple years back, still use AS/400. Without giving up too much info, yes I worked at an Ameristar property.

I don't think you've missed very much. IGT was using the same technology from your day up until a few years ago when they started using actual Cisco routers and HP servers instead of NI cards and ISDN lines to power their wide area progressives (WAP). Like I said, TITO is everywhere now.

The buyout of IGT by Spielo/GTECH was s shock throughout the industry. Many IGT employees are still insure of what the future holds. In California, GTECH also supports the local lottery machines. My former co workers are NOT crazy about having to maintain those machines if the need arises. They're already swamped just maintaining their leased machines on tribal properties.

Other than that, not much has changed. Oh...the ladies shave down there now...

Dozekar2 karma

Ugh we just got WAP lines from IGT upgraded in the last year. They'd share no info with IT (me) but still wanted to blame us for connectivity issues. It ended up being an issue with a newb tech resetting their router on our premises. Was a nightmare that took weeks for them to figure out.

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

I'm sure youll be even more enthusiastic once the merger goes through and all Gtech and IGT lines merge into one. Sci Games/Bally/WMS I imagine will be a nightmare as well. Cheers!

DeadHead-14 karma

What is the secret to winning money on a slot machine?

TheBrokenSwagger50 karma

Short/easy answer: Dont play

More extensive answer: Anytime you have beat your initial bet even if it's a few cents, cash out and go to another machine. Repeat this as much as possible and learn how to walk away even if your mind is telling you to keep playing. And if you lose your money, don't be tempted to go to that ATM machine. The lights and sounds are designed to lure you in and keep playing but you should know better.

Lastly, be born lucky. Every major jackpot I've ever paid off, the customer claims to have been lucky their entire life. Case in point, I verified and paid out a jackpot of $180,000 to an old man in his 70s. He bitched and complained that he wouldn't ever see the money (payout is over 25 years). I explained to him that an escrow company would most likely contact him and offer him a handsome payout in return for the win. As a rule we always have the players 'play off' one more game (we can't leave the slot machine in a winning line state so that any old player can come by and claim that they've won). He plays the next dollar in the machine and wins a $3,000 jackpot. I see this almost every time...

memeselfi16 karma

Payout is over 25 years?

TheBrokenSwagger20 karma

Yes sir. Most wide area progressives (WAP) are paid out over multiple years. There are some exceptions. Aristocrat pays them right away, same with WMS I believe (though that may change with the Sci Games takeover). IGT pays them out over 20 to 25 years depending on the system (Wheel of Fortune, Megabucks, etc.). Like I said, usually a company will offer a lump sum payout in exchange to acquire the jackpot. It's not 50% like the lottery, closer to 35% before taxes. Most people take the deal.

memeselfi5 karma

WAP is like a state lottery? We can only buy lotto tickets and bet on horseys here.

TheBrokenSwagger12 karma

WAP stands for "Wide Area Progressive" and is a name given to any jackpot amount that collects a growing pot based from multiple sites. For example, the Wizard of Oz in various Reno casinos is supposed to have a growing progressive amount same as in Las Vegas. It varies by state and jurisdiction, but usually exceeds $100,000 and continues to grow until someone gets the winning combination.

Aliantha1 karma

How does this apply to foreigners visiting Vegas, for example and winning say a $5 million jackpot?

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

This happens all the time actually - a filipina flight attendant was taking time in between her shift to play slots and managed to win an $80,000 jackpot. She didn't have her passport on her, so she had to driver a couple hours back to her airline company's HQ and obtain her paperwork before she could claim it. Anyway she was ecstatic. The exchange rate between the Phillippines and US at the time was 50:1. Currently around 45:1. Which means in the Phillippines, she effectively became a millionaire.

Anyway, this site here does a better job of explaining the wins with foreigners in the US than I could. But most front line employees in slots and table games are trained on how to deal with this as long as a requirement to be certified in Title 31 - money laundering tactics.

drowsyj2 karma

As a rule we always have the players 'play off' one more game ... He plays the next dollar in the machine

The player is required to pay for and play one more game? Why can't you guys just reset it?

TheBrokenSwagger4 karma

The player is required to pay for and play one more game? Why can't you guys just reset it?

If the player doesn't want to play it off, they don't have to. We just ask them to do it as a courtesy. If they refuse, we usually ask a slot attendant to take out money and play it off. There is no 'reset' button on a machine. The reset key is to enter an attendant menu or key off a jackpot. The only way to 'reset' a machine is by ram clear, which a technician performs for various reasons, the top one being an error or malfunction that can't be cleared.

You understand why we do this right? If you leave a machine in a "JACKPOT-JACKPOT-JACKPOT" configuration, some random customer might come by and claim that the machine won but it didn't pay off. Whilst there may be thousands of cameras in the casino, not every single one of them is aimed at a machine at any given time. Best we can do is have a tech (like myself) verify if a game has been won (which is really easy to do but takes time and manpower away from a real problem). The simplest solution is to have the player play the next game to clear the winning line.

ReverendEarthwormJim13 karma

Do modern slot machines run Windows?

Are they as insecure as ATM machines?

TheBrokenSwagger14 karma

IGT owns the patent for running an embedded windows OS in their machines. IGT also owns the patent on using hard drive memory in their boxes. All other slot manufacturers get by with running an embedded Linux OS on multiple compact flash drives.

Slot machines are usually very insecure but they are on a closed system and only take simple input/output commands. That's why I said the recent ways to cheat a machine is through third party devices like a printer, bill acceptor or bonus device controller.

Most of the ATM machines I worked on were running embedded Windows XP. That's right...XP! I believe that my last property updated to 7 but it was burning the midnight oil for them. ATMs and cash dispensing kiosks at casinos are fairly secure however.

Dozekar2 karma

Assuming the casino isn't batshit insane they're running on a relatively sequestered subnet with literally almost no routing to anything, even internally. The banks are relatively strict about this almost everywhere I'm aware of. They'll actually run into problems maintaining insurance otherwise, as they'll be flagged for basic bank compliance failures by any even remotely incompetent auditor.

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Ahh wasn't aware. We always contracted out to GCA or NRT for our kiosk and ATM needs. They didn't tell us much in regards to how everything worked.

What I can tell you is the story of how one kiosk technician took the casinos for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He did it the old fashion way - stealing from the tape, right in full view of security personnel. He had 30 machines that he maintained daily and used to take a hundred dollar bill out of the machines every night, out of every single one. When security asked why he did it, he said "It's my job to take these and inspect them. I'll return it to the cage when done." Security never pursued it beyond that.

Every morning when the audit team in revenue asked about why $100 was missing from the machines every night, he claimed it was a software issue. So the guys from NRT would come out and try to figure it out, scratching their heads. Six firmware updates later, nothing seemed to fix the problem.

Eventually, camera surveillance showed that he was stealing the bills and taking them home. He never 'returned the bills to the cage' like he claimed. Once the investigation was complete, federal agents along with the sheriffs and gaming commission came in to arrest him right on the casino floor. It was even shown on the local news. I won't link the article, but anyone can google the story as it happened recently and in California.

nerddtvg12 karma

After commenting on this story: Gamblers ordered to return $1.5 million they won, I was axed to do an AMA.

Were you asked or axed to do this AMA?

TTTT2711 karma

So what is the latest on how people are cheating slot machines?

Are there any casinos that still have old fashioned mechanical or electro-mechanical slots in use?

Is there any way to know what the actual odds on a given machine are? How easy is it for a casino to adjust payout rates?

TheBrokenSwagger16 karma

So what is the latest on how people are cheating slot machines?

I'm not too aware of any recent developments in cheating. I do know however that a few years ago the way to do this was by bypassing third party devices. What are these devices? I'm talking about bill acceptors, printers, or top box bonus devices. A few years ago, a couple in Tahoe found that JCM's bill acceptor had a huge flaw where they accepted photocopied ten dollar bills. That's right - PHOTOCOPIED bills. But only in ten. All the couple had to do was put a bunch in, immediately cash out, then take the ticket to a cash dispensing kiosk or the cage. After all was said and done, they took home $400,000 and multiple felonies. They got caught and convicted.

Another way is to trigger the bonus controller that controls the bonus games but this is tougher to do and requires timing. IGT's Indiana Jones cabinet runs a controller that controls all the games on a bank. Once the in house progressive reached a certain amount (say, $9,999), all the players had to do was figure out the threshold which was usually a round number like $10,000. They knew that the closer this prog amount was to $10,000, the likelihood of the machine hitting the bonus was greater. So at a bank of 4 machines, they'd observe and wait for the bonus amount to get close to that threshold. Once there, the 4 would only play one penny a pull until someone hit the bonus (which was community at the time). Though fair, IGT's only recourse was to require "committed betting." No longer would you be able to play one credit (one cent) at a time. I believe the minimum came out to 40 cents a pull, and required that you bet a certain amount to qualify for the bonus. During training at IGT's facility in Reno, we programmed the amount on the controller to get as close as possible to the threshold and sure enough, we got the bonus plus wins every time.

TheBrokenSwagger15 karma

To answer your other questions -

Are there any casinos that still have old fashioned mechanical or electro-mechanical slots in use?

Not that I know of. At downtown vegas off Fremont st., I see IGT S+ machines from the late 90s still, but these aren't elecro-mechanical. The only old style 'Liberty Bells' invented by Charles Fey (invento of the slot machine), and other electro mechanical style machines I ever saw was at the 'Liberty Belle' resautaurant in Reno. This was run by Charles Fey's grandson who was in his 80s when I met him almost ten years ago. Grandson Fey was an awesome guy and always excited to see IGT techs. Also, the best prime rib and in house cola I ever had. They were in an odd location right in front of the convention center. Eventually, Grandson Fey got bought out by the convention center and retired. I imagine he is no longer present in this life.

Is there any way to know what the actual odds on a given machine are? How easy is it for a casino to adjust payout rates?

It's very easy to adjust payouts on most machines. However that range is pre set by the manufacturer. For example, on an IGT AVP cabinet, you have various payouts that range from 85% up to 99%. Same with WMS, Bally, Aristocrat, etc. If you want to set up the cabinet for tournament mode, you need to order the tournament chips from a sales associate. The machines in various lobbies of manufacturers are all set to 'demo mode' with respective demo mode chips.

That being said, as a slot tech manager, I got reports every month from auditing and revenue of machines that were 'exceptions.' These exceptions indicated that the payback percentage (we called them PAR in the industry) were either too high or too low (usually outside of a 3% threshold). What I mean is, if I set a machine to 90% theoretical payback, but it was only actually paying back 86%, I would have to investigate why. Furthermore, if it was paying back too much and was at 94% payback, same deal. I usually would send a tech to check it out, have him reboot the machine and tell me "Nothing wrong boss." Any machine that had 3 months of exceptions were usually taken off the floor, converted to another theme, or memory cleared. That's assuming it didnt hit a huge jackpot that fudged the numbers.

TheBestVirginia2 karma

I know you may not see this, but if you do: I'm no expert, just a recreational gambler (in WV). Some slots here show the payout stats, but others don't. Some slots allow you to "stop" the reels, but again, others don't. I thought there would be consistent regulations for each, I.e, why would a machine show payout stats if all of the machines aren't required to do so, and why would some machines allow the player to stop the reels if it weren't a requirement?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Still here, and will continue to answer questions until the end of time. That being said - slots are not required to show stats but some manufacturers (specifically, WMS) show them to entice customers to play. They'll show how over the life of the machine, how well is has or hasn't paid out. It's a nifty little feature but be aware that this doesn't dictate whether or not the machine will pay out in your favor.

Most slot machines, specifically the ones with touch screen and multi lines, allow you to stop the machines once you press the screen. It won't affect the outcome whatsoever. Other machines, be it lottery terminals, or what's called Class 2 - bingo, require that the player press a button to stop the reel. This is a gov't regulatory thing between state and federal. Not sure the laws out there in WV are but in CA, casinos are allowed to have a class 2 machine right next to a class 3 machine. They can look virtually identical but small clues will indicate which is which. I usually don't play class 2 machines. They are a huge money maker for the tribes as they are absolved from paying the state fee on those particular machines.

stinkstick1710 karma

Can you explain why someone has to go and personally introduce himself to a casino host as opposed to the shmuck at the "comp point desk" to actually get a significant comp, i.e. rooms for free or all your booze and food covered for your weekend? I just dont think enough people understand what a casino hosts job actually is and why they hold the keys to a possible free weekend for you.

TheBrokenSwagger14 karma

Sure thing. If you are just an average schmoe like me, there is no advantage to going to a casino host. The casino host's job is to befriend the top playing customers and find the 'whales' or turn their top playing customers into whales for that particular casino. These hosts are essentially bullshit artists that fake friendship and familiarity so that the player continues to come back. The host's job is to extract as much info and money that they can from a particular player.

Whilst some hosts are fairly green and have no clue that they're doing, an experienced hosts has mastered the art of observance, has already run credit and background checks on their top clients, and has full authorization from the player's club manager and director to do what it takes to keep that client there. This means using the casino credit card to buy concert/event tickets (think Lady Gaga, or UFC), expensive handbags, designer clothing, tech stuff - whatever material needs and desires that the particular client has. It's all an investment that pays off later down the road. There's nothing more you can do to piss off the casino host than to not play a certain amount of time, or if in a place like Vegas, cart off to another casino. There's a reason why the whale got a $4000 a night suite, and Joe Q. Citizen got a free coupon to see the bird show.

Introduce yourself if you have proof of your play at another casino. My brother got instantly upgraded to platinum status at a new casino we went to because he showed the host his president card at another casino (this is the highest tier at that particular casino). All the host had to do was make a couple phone calls to confirm that he was legit (in this industry, a lot of people know each other ... right now, I can call in to Maryland, Colorado, Chicago, Las Vegas, Canada or Macau and be on the phone with a former co worker finding dirt about a player via their online accounting system). We got free buffets, upgraded room, and two tickets to the Michael Jackson experience all because of my bro's comps. He in turn threw maybe $5,000 down the drain that weekend for a fraction of the investment. Obviously, he could afford it...

bestaccountof20158 karma

Is it really illegal or frowned upon to double your roulette bet after you lose? I have heard you can be kicked out for that.

TheBrokenSwagger13 karma

No. In fact casinos want you to do this. They just hate players (well hate is a strong word) that play on the outside bets. They want people to play on the inside for the higher payout (which they usually beat). The entire concept of having an upper limit is to get you to progressively bet until you can't go any higher. Remember, on a $5 roulette table all it takes is 10 double'd down wins to break a limit of $2500. 5-10-20-40-80-160-320-640-1280-2560. This type of play can make, but usually, breaks you.

now_its_a_dick_joke7 karma

What's really rigged? How do the Vegas buffets make money? What's the worst thing you've seen? How many cocktail waitresses have you banged?

TheBrokenSwagger22 karma

What's really rigged?

Player's Clubs. 5000 points for a complimentary toaster? $1 is considered 100 points at the last couple casinos I worked at. So $50 and you'll work your way up to the free toaster. 25,000 points for a free buffet.

How do the Vegas buffets make money?

The big food companies like Sysco offer a mass consortium of low grade food (just a step above prison quality I've deduced) to the casinos. Casinos actually employ fairly good cooks - mostly culinary students out of trade school. They only pay them $15 an hour mostly (forcing most to move up to the gourmet restaurants where they make decent money). However, most buffets are the only real revenue maker for the casino food wise. The last place I worked at lost money from their diner, chinese food place, mexican restaurant and high quality steak house. The made it back from the buffet but charged $12.99 during the day and $25 at night. All of the food is packed with carbs/sugar making you full. However, the people working there - servers/bussers/waitresses - made a fuck ton of tips. TL;DR - buffets are the only revenue makers in Vegas buffet. BTW Vegas buffets are no longer cheap. At the Aria last Christmas, it was $55 a person!

What's the worst thing you've seen?

It's a tie between these two: a group of drunks crashed into a pilar outside - two men and a woman. Knowing they were inebriated, the two men jumped out and took off. They were in total shock, pumped of adrenaline. When the police arrived, the two men came back (they also came back for the girl). As one guy was talking to the cop, his face started swelling up before our eyes. It was like some movie type shit. Both guys were taken to the hospital a couple exits up where they died. Just weird that they were running away, looked fine, and in a few hours, left this world behind. The girl was paralyzed and survived but now a paraplegic.

The other one was when our sewer system flooded and all of the vents emitted a smell akin to wet chicken and rotten fish. The drain vomited back up a thick brown liquid that I'm sorry to say contaminated my steel toes. We had to put sand bags in front of our slot tech shop to stop the sludge from entering and I had to sweep any excess that came through. For the next year, the thin taint permeated throughout the shop despite the best efforts of modern technology.

How many cocktail waitresses have you banged?

I've dated many, banged a few of them, and am working on number 9 as we speak. Seriously, if any of you guys want to get banged and need to get it out of your system, go work at a casino. Whether it's dealers, waitresses, customers or some one you've got your eye on, the casino floor is where it's at. This includes married women. It's always open season and vagina is on the menu tonight, boys!

Iowas7 karma

Why does my Mom hug the mailman but not me?

TheBrokenSwagger5 karma

Because the USPS is dying a slow death and she knows that all UPS drivers carry mace and herpes.

A_Very_Quick_Questio5 karma

When it comes to playing cards for my at-home poker games, my brand loyalty has always been Bicycle.

What brand of cards would you recommend (excluding the $25-$30 KEM and Copag plastic cards)? Are Bee cards superior enough to switch brands (yes, I realize they are both brands of the USPPC)? Which brand of playing cards are most prone to wear and tear and should be absolutely avoided?

TheBrokenSwagger10 karma

I say stick to the Bicycle cards. Bees are usually not available for sale to consumers that is, they have a 'Bee' run of cards they sell to consumers but it's not the same USPC 102 run that they sell to casinos. Bee 264s are their holy grail and are the expensive ones. The Bicycle line that is available in stores is just fine for at home poker games. However you can manage to get the true Bees, I would highly recommend those over anyone else. The consumer Bees are USPC 92 and can be found here for $4.99 a deck: Bee 92 Jumbo Std Index

KEM was bought out by USPC just a few years ago and is pretty good but yes, they are in that $25 a pair of decks price range (most plastic cards are). The superflexes that Gemaco make are pretty good as well, probably the best in their line of cards period.

Avoid any asian based playing cards (Kuo Kau, Angel). A few casinos around here are also running some horrid brands I've never heard of and used to call us out for service all the time. Forgot their names but they have shady names like "Best Quality" and "Super Pro."

A_Very_Quick_Questio2 karma

Thanks for the response!

Another Poker Question: In your opinion, what poker/card game variants are the best/most fun to play in a casino and why? ( I believe you mentioned Pai gow poker in both this and the previous thread...I'm unfamiliar with that variation; what makes it so great?) And, of course, what poker/card game variants do casinos offer that are absolute ripoffs that should be avoided and why?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Pai Gow is a simple game - you make the best five card hand, and the best two card hand. All consistent with the rules of poker of course. However your five card hand must be the better hand. For example, you get seven cards. You have one set of pairs in your hand. You can't throw the pairs up as your two card hand. Per casino rules, your five card hand must be your better hand. So the pair stays in your five card hand. Your two cards are usually your next two highest cards (like say, J/10) or something along those lines. Hope this explanation is clear. You're playing against the dealer's hands and usually, you'll beat one or the other for a push (no win/no loss). Yes you can certainly get crappy hands and lose as well, but it's a good game to last a long time on instead of burning up your bets on a carnival game like 3 Card or Let it Ride. Let it Ride is the absolute worst game you can play - this coming from a former Shufflemaster employee (the game was invented by Shufflemaster as a way to promote their shufflers in the 90s).

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TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

I hate Let It Ride. It's a game invented by Shufflemaster to sell their original line of shufflers. It's the same everywhere you go as it's patented and licensed by them (now owned by Bally, and soon, Scientific Games). It's has the absolute worst odds of any table games and also costs the most (about $1600 a table per month). Maybe you're just luckier than most on that game, but I've only ever lost money on it. Soon as I started working for Shufflemaster/SHFL, I was barred from playing it. That was enough to get the bug out of me for good.

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TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Like I said on your other post, not a fan of 3 card poker either. I don't like most 'carnival games.' That's what casinos call them - any game that is not Bacc, BJ, or Pai Gow is branded a carnival game. The carnival games are designed to have multiple bets, made to confuse the player, and has a greater edge for the casino than the others. They're also designed to be used with the Shufflemaster Ideal shuffler (new Ideal+ is coming out or is already out). They cost a lot for a casino to operate but receives full service from the SHFL/Bally tech in an event requiring service.

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TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

Do you guys have Pai Gow? I think any casino game is designed to 'chip away at your soul.' I play Pai Gow because I lose far less than on any other game. Man, if I had to choose between the carnival games that you guys have there, I'd rather just take my money and walk. I have seen some guys win big on 3 card and 4 card however. I saw one guy get a royal flush on 3 card and got a huge payout. I believe it was nearly $3,000. I looked up his play on the computer and he threw away $25,000 back at the casino for the year already. $3,000 is a huge victory but not if it cost you half a year's salary to get there.

nayrlladnar5 karma

Is your name Lonnie?

TheBrokenSwagger5 karma

lol no but I've known a Lonnie or two that was a slot tech. We probably knew/know the same guy

frehsprints5 karma

You know that FCC sticker on most/all electronics, that it "must not create unwanted interference, but also say they must accept any unwanted interference"?

Does that apply to these machines as well? Or are they hardened to prevent any outside interference?

TheBrokenSwagger8 karma

I've rarely seen any FCC stickers on the machines we worked on. We did use ferrite beads on bill acceptors though, which we called 'anal beads.' The slot director didn't find that too amusing.

dudesmokeweed4 karma

How many cocktail waitresses have you banged? Just curious...

TheBrokenSwagger43 karma

A gentleman never tells. So, 8.

punkbenRN4 karma

What is it that makes a "good" playing card? I have never really given it any thought and you seem very passionate about certain brands. Am I missing something? Thank you for doing this AMA, one of the more interesting ones I've read in some time.

TheBrokenSwagger10 karma

I'm basing my answers mostly on how these cards performed in shufflers. To me that's the real test of the card's durability and life span. Otherwise, they all basically look and appear the same. Also, the bees have a distinct smell and feel that the others dont have. Casino executives mostly focus on cost without thinking that a shitty card will jam a shuffler, causing a delay of game and slowing down of hands per minute. When the shuffler fails, players get up and move to another table. Crappy cards cost the casino money, yet the VP of Table Games thinks that saving 4 cents a pack is more important than keeping a $25 pai gow table going!

94EG83 karma

Did you ever work on any Spielo machines? I used to work on the assembly line building them about 6 years ago.

TheBrokenSwagger4 karma

Nice! Yeah I probably worked on one or two that you built. To be honest, I wasn't a fan. Mainly because of the way the awkward CPU was placed. There was no way to 'half ass' taking it out. I also didn't like the options menu at all. I actually preferred the games that piggyback'd off the Konami cabinet. I think you guys called them the 'Passion Plus.' I always referred to them as the Konami cabinets. Also, did a lot of troubleshooting on GTech's Deal or No Deal. Did you work on any GTech machines?

donut-of-doom3 karma

Like in the film Casino, was there ever a time in Vegas where if you cheated you would be escorted to a room in the basement filled with power tools? If so, where did we go wrong and what can we do to bring it back?

TheBrokenSwagger5 karma

A lot of the older slot techs who are nearing retirement have all sorts of dubious stories of working on the strip and seeing/hearing things like this. I think it's mostly bullshit but I wasn't there during the area and can only take their word for it. One guy said that violence was only involved if you were already warned, owed a debt, or fought back. Security managers and supervisors were some of the biggest assholes I've known. Or they had ego problems.. or people problems. Unlike the show 'Vegas,' most are just ex cops, or 'never-cops' who come to collect a paycheck, dicktuck and go home.

DrPineappleButts3 karma

What is your opinion on the situation for the casinos in Atlantic City right now? Sure the problem is more than just he casino's attracting people, because the city itself is in a bit of a shithole; but with a number of them in the danger of going under, and Revel, oh boy Revel, being what it is, what are your thoughts on the industry there and what are your professional expectations for it in the future?

I ask this as someone who was always brought to the casinos as a child and always thought they were the coolest places on Earth. I'm a few years away from actually being able to play them, because damnit NJ, but is still worried about his local-ish businesses and interests.

TheBrokenSwagger9 karma

IMO the nail in the coffin is not AC at all - it's the expansion of tribal casinos nearby, as well as the full legalization of Class 3 gaming in Pennsylvania. There was a time where the only two places to gamble in the country were Las Vegas and Atlantic City. In fact, this was not very long ago (we're talking like..when Toy Story 2 came out long ago). After Foxwoods in Connecticut opened the floodgates for gaming, in came the others hoping to cash in.

Now you have essentially every state surrounding AC operating gaming in one capacity or another. Ohio has opened wide open Class 3 (to clarify - Class 3 gaming is essentially Vegas Style gaming with slot machines and table games). Pennsylvania. Maine. Maryland. Florida... everybody's a whore for your hard earned money.

The winners in all this? Slot machine manufacturers. Regardless of what happens, they make a profit. They can only sell a machine for nearly $20,000 because the casinos will make it back in no time. Having a shitty processor, crappy motherboard, and two cheap monitors doesn't add up to the price of a new car. But that's what they charge for one machine. And the casinos will pay for it. Because the players will pay for it.

AC is dying a slow death, just like Reno is dying a slow death. IMO, AC will always be around but it's no longer and never will be like its glory days. Philadelphia is set to open up numerous new casinos (if it hasnt already) and this sets the stage for an unprecedented new era for gaming.

pleasuremint3 karma

What are the only casino games you will play and expect to win?

TheBrokenSwagger10 karma

Pai Gow - a slow game with multiple pushes where neither you nor dealer win. I play so I can get free drinks and/or qualify to win a progressive payout. It's also an entertaining game.

oednj3 karma

Is it true that the Shufflemaster machines used by some casinos for Pai gow have an impact on the possible hands? I've heard that since they can tell you what cards were in what hand, they could set the hand as well. Some players I know will only go to casinos with hand shuffle.

TheBrokenSwagger7 karma

No. The machines you're talking about are "Ideal" shufflers. They have a 'ferris' wheel in them (as we call them). They also have cameras built in for card recognition. The cameras are used to confirm that indeed there are 52 cards in a deck and that the casino is not cheating the player. The reason why players percieve the ideal shufflers as cheating them is that they shuffle a lot faster. Why is this important?

Any dealer knows that they are being watched at by surveillance at any time. Surveillance is not only watching to see if they cheat, but are also grading their dealing. Every week I got reports of my dealers 'hands per minute.' All dealers are expected to deal a certain style and way that conforms to the corporate requirements of the casino. Having too few 'hands per minute' results in corrective action. That being said, a machine helps to achieve a guaranteed 'hands per minute' number. The quicker the hand, the more likely a casino will bring in profit. All hand shuffling does is slow this down.

Some may ask "Why do higher limit tables allow hand shuffling then?" Because the casino will make money back anyway on a higher limit. Makes sense right? They know that the highest level players that play with the most money prefer hand shuffling. But you'll only get a hand shuffled deck by an experienced dealer, and if you pay more for it. This way the casino makes money back.

Ideal shufflers are also used for carnival games like 3 card poker, 4 card, Mississippi stud, Ultimate Texas Hold Em, etc... You see what these all have in common? Total sucker bet games!

PCR123 karma

IF you can still find it, Blackjack switch used to bleed money for one of the casinos I worked at, it's why they got rid of it.

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Blackjack Switch is one of the most popular games now for the casino. Possible that the format changed since your day but I'm not sure...didn't start seeing it until 08 and now it's everywhere. For those that don't know, you are forced to play two hands. You can make a couple of bonus bets, including a bet that rewards you for pairs and such (yes, mixing poker with BJ). If the dealer draws 22, everyone pushes. Most casinos set the lower limit to 25 so you are forced to bet 50 every time. I've seen this game break a lot of players. It's also one of those patented carnival games so the casino has to lease it at about $1,000 a month to the inventor of that game. Quite popular here in CA and NV but I don't play it. At all.

artemisdragmire3 karma

Hey there,

I work for an Indian casino on the northern plains, as an IT technician, just doing your standard computer/server support. Some work on the Aristocrat systems that we have as well (mostly managing the databases and back-end).

I've always loved games and seeing people have fun. So working at a casino has been great for me. I've thought about switching a career focus from IT to something to do more with game design, marketing, or something similar in the casino industry.

What would you say would be good ways to make this happen? Does an IT degree translate well into other fields in the casino industry? I've only been working here about a year, but plan to keep my eyes open for local opportunities.

Basically, the whole psychology behind gambling fascinates me, the numbers, the statistics, the ways you draw people in and keep them playing. I have thought seriously about trying to move my career in that direction but am not sure what the best way to do that is. Any suggestions?

TheBrokenSwagger10 karma

What would you say would be good ways to make this happen?

I'd recommend applying as much as you can for jobs at slot manufacters doing the exact same thing you're doing now. Yes, IGT, Bally, WMS, Scientific Games, Aristocrat, Aruze, Konami - all need good IT people to get involved. After so many months, you can easily jump ship and transfer into an entry level design position (be it graphics, firmware, or logic programming).

Does an IT degree translate well into other fields in the casino industry?

Yes. However along the way you'll develop a lot of integral communications skills. I've become a better observer of body language, conversationalists, and interpersonal communicator thanks to speaking to people I normally wouldn't on a casino floor. I can also talk to any person of the opposite sex with confidence. Had I stayed as a network admin or IT tech solely supporting systems in some gov't infrastructure, I would have never developed these skills.

I've only been working here about a year, but plan to keep my eyes open for local opportunities.

I encourage you to, in general, take up as many opportunities as you can be willing to relocate to make a better life for yourself. Work as hard as you can while you're young so that it pays off later in life.

Basically, the whole psychology behind gambling fascinates me, the numbers, the statistics, the ways you draw people in and keep them playing. I have thought seriously about trying to move my career in that direction but am not sure what the best way to do that is. Any suggestions?

As I said, be willing to move all over the world to get what you want. After serving as a field service tech for 3 years going all over the world, I was offered a position at IGT as a firmware engineer (passing a hard as fuck Java coding exam and interviewing with the top lead engineers). I turned it down because I visited their office and saw them all glued to their monitors, debugging code all day, earpods in tow, yawning and doing normal coding shit. I told myself this is not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. You'll find all the things you love and don't love, and when you do, push yourself hard in the direction you want to go toward. You may find that Hey! All you want to do is play the games and be content with just visiting a casino. Or you may end up like Jay Walker from Walker Digital and complete redesign/reinvent the gaming industry through the guise of IGT. Good luck and have fun doing it!

Sal_the_Truckdriver3 karma

Who's the most unlucky guy you've seen so far?

TheBrokenSwagger6 karma

Trying to recall the various stories ... sometimes mixed up with what I saw, what I heard, and bullshit stories people told me. I wasn't there - never even been to Detroit but I heard about a depressed cop who played $1,000 a hand, threatened to shoot himself if he lost one final hand... lost, then shot himself right in front of everybody. Crews came in and cleaned up and got the table released in just a few hours following the drama. That's got to be one of unluckiest guys I've heard of. But I didn't see him. Years later when I was in Vegas, I spoke with a random pit boss who's tag said "Detroit" (tags some times will indicate where someone is from as a conversation piece to open dialog with customers). He knew a bunch of mutual people I worked with out in CA. Anyway, he corroborated the story as genuine.

One actual thing I did see was an old man that was playing a progressive. He came in all the time to play this Fortune King machine (made by Aristocrat) that was on a wide area progressive system. The jackpot grew to over a million - $1.2 million as I recall. Seriously, that guy came in like six months in a row, all max bets, telling all of us he was going to win it.

One night he comes in. Puts a few hundred in the game. The entire bank is full. He gets frustrated, gets up to grab a soda and use the bathroom. Before he leaves, a woman asks if she can play his machine whilst he's up (you can see where this is going). He says "Sure, but no one can win on that thing!" One the 3rd spin, she wins the $1.2 million! We call the local Aristocrat tech and reps to verify. Her picture gets on our wall and a couple magazines. No 25 year payout - she gets the entire amount upfront.

Guy disappears and is never heard from or seen again. A year later, lady comes back and wins another $100,000+ jackpot on the same machine. I shit you not. He was the unluckiest guy I've ever heard of, and she was the luckiest.

G1adi4tor3 karma

I'm a college IT student. I've always been interested in casinos and gambling. How do I get started in a career in your industry? In Casino IT or as a slot tech?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Casino IT sucks ass. Well, just like any IT job really. It's a lot of fixing printers for clueless or older employees. Source: worked in IT before getting into casino business. The more interesting stuff is your usual securing networks, firmware updates, patching up/connecting vmware ports, etc. But that stuff is not for me and as a vendor I still have to deal with different IT departments.

As a slot tech, to be honest, it's a lot of labor. Just met a young guy-redditor actually (I know you're out there) who quit his job at a local casino. He was in it for a month and a half and quit right away. He's finishing up his AA degree. Anyway, he didn't anticipate the early project hours (most casinos want projects completed by noon), the man power involved (moving 300 to 600 lb slot machines across a sometimes busy casino floor), the nastiness of casino equipment (spilled soda, questionable wet spots that you kneel onto on the floor), and general assholeness of dictator management usually comprised of bullshit artists who made their way to the top. So if you're okay with all of that - then definitely, go for it and apply as much as you can for slot tech positions. Also most slot techs are fat due to the abnormal work hours (easy to binge on food when you're schedule is off), and just getting wasted doing all the labor coupled with moments of sitting, waiting around, and/or standing around doing nothing. As a house tech, you'll never see regular weekends or holidays off ever again.

The added bonuses of being a slot tech is that you can work pretty much anywhere in the world, on most cruise lines/ships, and if you're a fairly decent looking guy, you can slay the pussy like no other. Also, 99% of slot techs even after getting fired, can get hired right away just about anywhere else, regardless of past criminal history. House techs (technicians working at a casino) get free meals. Vendor techs (techs who work with companies) usually get paid meals when traveling. I also get free gas since I use a vehicle and of course, we get paid the federal rate so I not only get gas completely paid for, free meals, but also get OT on top of that. 90% of the time I'm just home chillin, shuffling emails, and waiting on an escalated issue that never comes. That's why I can do an AMA like this. Indefinitely!

akersmacker3 karma

Thanks for doing this.

So, after looking at your comments regarding slots and best odds, am I to assume then that the best odds of winning at slots would come from a new poker machine that I have not yet won at? Also, if I were to ask a floor employee about which machine I should play, how would I go about that, and do they really know ? How?

edit: also, should you always play the suggested hand or take a chance on a bigger payday, ever? Thanks again!

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

So, after looking at your comments regarding slots and best odds, am I to assume then that the best odds of winning at slots would come from a new poker machine that I have not yet won at?

The only issue with that is that poker machines are rarely ever new. They are so great at what they do, built so well and tough, that it's very, very rare to see a new poker machine. Many casinos I've seen on the strip or in Reno are older generation machines. They last forever, and pay off well, but it's very rare to see new ones. Also keep in mind that these machines are usually distractions. As a slot manager, it's ideal to leave these in a high traffic area where you are diverted to spend your money on something else - the gift shop, the buffet, a bar. You can place the machines almost anywhere else on the casino floor and they will most likely do poorly. The more you move them towards a high traffic area with a diversion, the more you'll make off of them. It's just science (and a bit hype and marketing as well).

Also, if I were to ask a floor employee about which machine I should play, how would I go about that, and do they really know ? How?

This is a tricky one. The floor employees are usually slot attendants, also called change-persons. Many times the only two types of machines they tend to are a) broken ones, and b) jackpot machines. So as a tech when I ask them which machines are paying out, they'll say one that they paid multiple jackpots on. But this is a very bad statistic or information to fall back on. It's possible that the machine wins many jackpots, but pay poorly for the casual player who just wants to have fun and make a buck or two. Furthermore, many casinos are fairly lax and many times allow their own employees to play after or before their shift. If not, they can easily go across the street (or in CA, another Indian casino across the county) and play the same machine. I'll tell you this - slot attendants are some of the most broke people I've known. Take that for what it's worth.

edit: also, should you always play the suggested hand or take a chance on a bigger payday, ever? Thanks again!

Just like slot people, dealers are the second most broke people I know. And keep in mind, slot attendants and dealers live off their 'toke' (what we call tips in our industry). They seriously make way more than anybody after all is said and done. Many make much more than their salaried supervisors/manager, but it's never a guaranteed thing, and it's shitty to have to work holidays and weekends, on odd shifts. That being said, since dealers DO work toward that tip, they want you to win just like you want to! The mind of a dealer operates on safe plays, so if you ask them for advice, they will always suggest playing it safe. Better to go with what's in your hand, then lose it all to a bet that is in the casino's favor. So it's completely up to you. Based on all of the footage I've watched in the surveillance room and countless hours if not years on the floor, my advice would be to play it safe. Let that luck hit you on the first hand/roll instead of getting killed on that second chance.

silentfal2 karma

Have any connections in Canada that can get me a job in the gaming industry?

TheBrokenSwagger3 karma

Where in Canada are you? PM me and I'll send you some info. Yes I do have connections in Canada.

firstestplace2 karma

Any thoughts on MGM's Lion's Share machine that paid out last summer?

TheBrokenSwagger3 karma

Yeah as I recall it was an IGT S+ or S2000... not sure...wait just looked it up. S+ for sure. The problem about that cabinet is that its powered by technology that is 20 years old. To run that progressive you have to use an old Mikohn progressive controller that is only programmable on a Windows 98 computer, and with a DOS prompt. IGT no longer supports the CPU that is in there (running an old 8096 processor), so at some point, the machine needed to give. Only third parties support the technology on it, and many people would have been upset or angry had MGM decided to convert a more modern IGT cabinet and transferred the progressive amount over.

That being said, I'm glad it finally hit. I probably put a hundred in there last time I was there before it hit. There's definitely been larger jackpots, larger payouts, on better machines, but the legend of this machine not paying out for 20 years brought a lot of attention to MGM.

hotmetalslugs2 karma

I have looked around but haven't seen this question asked, and I apologize if this is a dupe - Is there any truth to the story that slots placed closer to the entrances are programmed to win more often, to draw more people in?

I only played with this in mind once, and won handsomely. I am not lucky at casinos, but was that time.

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

No. The slots in the front are usually what's called 'Revenue Share' machines - or machines leased to the casino from the manufacturer. The reason these are in the front is that, typically, the contract for these leases are 75% of the day's earning for that machine, or if it exceeds a certain coin-in total. For example, the lease terms are 75% or $60. If the machine made $200 that day, all the casino has to pay the slot manufacturer $60. However, if the machine only made $50, 75% of that amount must go to the leasing company. Another scenario would be, if the slot machine made only $61 that day, yes, the $60 still goes to the manufacturer. Because of these terms, it's more profitable to place these leased machines in the front of the casino.

Usually, these machines are going to be your more popular themes. Hot themes such as Willy Wonkas, Wheel of Fortunes, Fort Knox, Red Hot 7s, Quick Hit Jackpots, etc. Sometimes the name alone of these machines will carry themselves such as Wheel of Fortune, Megabucks and Fort Knox. You can place them anywhere on the casino floor and they'll make money, leaving the casino to put weaker themes in the front (or machines they own). The perfect scenario for any slot director would be to have great playing machines, with a high hold, placed near the front with little to no overhead. The worst case scenario are machines that are leased, do poorly. and have taken up the best real estate (in the front).

The reason why the perception is that these machines pay off more is that new machines are more volatile than older ones (leased games get swapped out all the time because the slot manufacturers can afford it). If you look at the PAR sheets (theyre like the instruction manuals for the games but are required for compliance reasons), they'll indicate that the more pulls to 10,000,000, the more the machine will correct and fall within its intended hold percentage. That's why I always recommend that you play the newest games - more chance of a jackpot, BUT they're also the worst hold in the joint. Leased games by far are set to have way higher hold percentages than casino owned machines.

Lastly, never play slots at the airport. These slots are leased/owned by IGT and have the legal minimum hold (in the state of Nevada it's 75% - which means they keep a quarter of whatever you put in).

KreamoftheKropp2 karma

Ex Bally Oklahoma employee here, have you ever worked in Oklahoma?

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

yes sir but not as Bally, only IGT.

mt1rdt2 karma

I remember a few years ago Cribbage was being tested as a possible table game. I heard a rumor it was spread at a casino in Detroit for about a week and the house got whacked. You have any info on that?

I also had a question regarding dollars earned by game. I'm pretty sure slots are by far the biggest win for the casino in terms of money earned per square foot. What table game is 2nd? Just going by what game the casinos have the most tables of it would seem to be Blackjack.

Where is poker on that list?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

I remember a few years ago Cribbage was being tested as a possible table game. I heard a rumor it was spread at a casino in Detroit for about a week and the house got whacked. You have any info on that?

I've never heard about cribbage being played in a house. I'll have to ask my Detroit contacts about this.

I also had a question regarding dollars earned by game. I'm pretty sure slots are by far the biggest win for the casino in terms of money earned per square foot. What table game is 2nd? Just going by what game the casinos have the most tables of it would seem to be Blackjack.

BJ is the biggest money maker for casinos no doubt but also because most 'felt licenses' for blackjack are fairly cheap. Most people don't know that each table game is actually patented and leased to the casino by the felt designer/game inventor. For example, Lucky Ladies, the blackjack variation, costs about $500 a table per month. Sometimes the makers of the game actually allows the casino to have unlimited tables with their game past a certain. For example, the casino pays for six tables of Lucky Ladies. The company that leases out may say "Well, you don't have to pay for anything past six tables! You can have 200 tables of Lucky Ladies if you want and only have to pay for the six." This is the best possible deal for the casino. Otherwise, games like Three Card Poker, Let it Ride, Blackjack Switch, Pai Gow, and others have to pay a monthly lease of around $1,000 a table depending on who negotiated the price.

Slot machines can be bought outright or leased from month to month. Yes they earn the most money with penny slots making the majority of revenue. Moreso than nickel slots, dimes, quarters, dollars, etc.

Poker is not a profitable game. It's designed to bring people into a house. The rake that most tables take in during each game is basically enough to pay the dealers and cover overhead. The perk for dealers is that they get tipped fairly well especially if they have regulars.

amw1573 karma

I'm kind of surprised that you say penny slots make the most revenue. Why is that? It seems counterintuitive.

TheBrokenSwagger5 karma

There was a time where you couldn't find any penny slots on the floor. I recall distinctly in 2001 going to Pechanga casino in So Cal and being unable to find even a nickel machine. Lowest denom was quarters, and for one credit, or three for max bet.

Something interesting happened where slot manufacturers began offering penny as a denom but with a twist - you had to play a minimum amount of pennies. Those first slots were like .15 minimum for play. However, casinos still advertised those machines as penny machines (when in actuality you were required to play that minimum amount). This was a bit controversial but the customers didn't care - they LOVED the concept of paying for each line, on multiple line machines. Instead of just one line for a max bet of three, you now had the option of playing 256 lines, with multipliers for those lines!

What the customers didn't know, still don't, and aren't that aware of is that multi line games suck up your money fast. If the max bet on a multi line penny game is $4.00, it's NOT a penny denom game. It's a $4.00 machine! For example, a Richie Rich theme game may have a minimum bet of $.40. It's max will probably be $2.00. The more you bet, the higher your multipler (5X the award for those following). Since I have so many lines, I might win a line or two (5 cents a win for example). I bet .40 but won .15! Yay! But maybe...maybe I should have bet .80 and I would have won .30... that's a much better prize. Or maybe bet 1.60.... hell I'll just play $2.00 so I can qualify for the bonus AND the progressive pay out.

Most people playing pennies aren't playing one cent. They're playing $1.00 or more. The illusion also comes with the multiple lines. With so many lines you're bound to win something back, but usually not all of it. Some can even draw parallels with the poor and our economy (like those weekly rate laptops and scam loans with high interest rates). The perception with penny slots is that you're spending less money when in actuality, you're spending way more than you want. And this perfectly sums up the current state of the casino gaming industry.

deltarefund2 karma

Can the casinos control how well certain slots pay out? It seems sometimes the new machines pay well for a while and they get people hooked and then after a while they go to shit.

Do they have control over other aspects of the game? I've played one machine and one casino will give 8 free spins in a bonus where another casino only gives 5.

Also, are the games in a bank all connected to one another and payout according to how busy that bank is?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Can the casinos control how well certain slots pay out? It seems sometimes the new machines pay well for a while and they get people hooked and then after a while they go to shit.

Yes. Newer machines always pay out better because they don't have a history the machine can fall back on. All PAR sheets that are released by the manufacturers (these are like the instruction setup manuals for slot machines that show payouts and percentages) will show a chart detailing the percentage changes. The closer you get to a million pulls, the lower the percentage fluctuation. It'll say 1-1000 pulls: +/-6%, 1001-10,000 pulls: +-3%...etc. At 10,000,000 pulls the number becomes fairly consistent with the actual payback that is set by the slot manager. So yes based on your statement and observation, as the games go on and have a history, they begin to 'correct' and function closer to the percentage set by the casino.

Do they have control over other aspects of the game? I've played one machine and one casino will give 8 free spins in a bonus where another casino only gives 5.

This is theme specific. Some themes award you 8 spins on a bonus. Others it will depend on some bullshit number you picked three in a row. Or like on Gilligan's Island, you pick one of 5 characters and based on that character you'll get any number of spins. The casino doesn't control this - it's programmed into the software by the slot manufacturer.

Also, are the games in a bank all connected to one another and payout according to how busy that bank is?

No. Well...maybe. It differs. (examples below)

All machines in a casino are connected via the player tracking system. Also called the "Online Accounting System." Techs call it "Back of House." (yeah, confusing I know...) All this system does is log and monitor how much money is coming in (called COIN IN) and how much money is going out (COIN OUT). These tools help accounting stay within regulation and compliance, and also eases up on paperwork. Companies began incorporating interactive menus into these systems, offering promotions and free play based on the player's history. For the most part, this doesn't affect whether or not a machine will play out. And contrary to public opinion, free play credits on a machine won't "tighten" up its percentage.

Machines connected to "one another" are only so with a progressive controller. And this is where it gets technical. The public perception of the 99% payout banks are completely wrong. They are also completely wrong when described by so called "Casino Pros" on television. The classic explanation is that "Only one machine at that bank is set at 99%. But you gotta find which one!" This isn't true at all. When you see a sign that claims 99% payback, it's a twist, but not like the one I just described.

This is a clearer example: At the particular bank, all machines are set at 90%. Not one of them is set to 99%. Where does the 9% come from? Isn't this illegal? No. You'll notice that every single bank claiming the 99% looseness is always usually at a progressive bank. What happens is that the progressive controller that links all of the machines also takes a 1% rake of the earnings and throws it into an imaginary 'pot.' If there are 9 machines at a bank, and you are taking 1% from each machine to throw into the progressive 'pot,' you are drawing 9% payback to the customer, on top of the 90% that the machine is set to. Hence 99% payback. Hope this makes sense and clears this up for everyone.

The perception that machines win more when it is busy is simple mathematics - the more people in a casino, the more likely the machines are being paid, and the more chances of these machines hitting a jackpot. Your chances of hitting a jackpot are essentially the same whether it's busy or not.

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TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

What about this has discouraged you? I think if people have a realistic mindset coming into a casino, it's not a problem. Most players I see are old folks that just want something to do, or people who want some cheap entertainment. I also see the pimps, prostitutes, strippers who worked all night, addicts, drug dealers, and violence. Any time you advertise money and luxury, it will bring in the good and the bad.

The entire cause for legalization in California was for native american tribes to restore their heritage and culture. In most people's minds, they think a native American looks like Tonto or the guy crying in the Indian commercial. In truth, all the tribal people I've seen were the whitest people I've known. I've only seen a handful of tribal members who looked like your stereotypical native. Most are blonde haired with blue eyes. One tribe I worked were black. And the chief of one was part filipino. They are fairly diverse, which is good, but if most Americans saw how assimilated - culture and race-wise these tribes are/were, they probably wouldn't support it.

That being said, I very rarely see Jews or other middle eastern groups in casinos.

Marth54542 karma

Do you have a favorite wrestler from back in the day? Do you watch WWE now?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

No. I'm disappointed by the lack of original characters in WWE these days plus the storylines have changed for the worse. However back in the day, the wrestler I marked out for the most was Ultimate Warrior.

DJ81812 karma

Why have so many casinos moved away from the 3 quarter max bet/1 payline machines? They seem to be a rare find on the floor these days.

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

I answered this, sort of, in another question about why penny slots make more money than other denoms. It's true. I installed a bank of machines in a High Limit section of a casino with $1 denom, $5 max bet at a low hold % (around 96% payback to the customer). I also programmed another bank right outside - same machines, but penny denomination, max bet $2, with an 88% payback/12% hold. After a month I went back to get meters and I shit you not, the total take for the penny games was around $300,000. The total take for the $1 denom games was only $20,000.

You can't have a 1 line, 3 coin bet for penny. What you can have is a mininum 40 cent penny machine, with a max bet of $2.00 that will make the casino far more money. Also, these multi line video games appear to the customer as paying out more, even though they really arent. A single line machine won't appear to be paying out as much, and as such, are dying a slow death in most casinos around the world.

IGT just released their new S3000 cabinet which is a throwback to the games you're talking about. They have all the bells and whistles on the outside and in. When I passed by a bank of those games this morning, not even one machine was being played (all $.25 denom). I don't know that these types of machines will survive the decade...

LoonyDranconian2 karma

What kind of hardware do the machines use?

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

The cheapest, crappiest motherboards you can find. Not sure what IGT is using now but when I was with them, there were still using Pentium 3s and this was just a few years ago. Slot machines don't require a ton of processing power and get replaced often so it's no priority to put a hex core xeon onboard. Otherwise, the employees would steal them all the time (which many do for sign controllers and such).

anonymizeme2 karma

Is there a certain type of slot machine that offers the best/worst chance of winning? I like the poker ones...

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

Poker machines are usually set higher because the player can dictate the outcome of the hands. You can actually stay on a poker machine for a while and they are the best odds in the house, in terms of slot machines. But it's really just a slower ride to bust.

415SFG2 karma

I see you work at Thunder Valley. Has the new Graton casino affected the business of Thunder Valley or the other northern CA casinos?

TheBrokenSwagger7 karma

Not really. I have a lots of friends/former co workers at Graton actually, including one of my previous bosses working there. Graton made a lot of mistakes since they've been there. Oh yeah, I also helped open Graton as well but only as a vendor. Cache Creek thought they'd take a hit as well but they've reported normal earnings following Graton's opening. Graton's made a lot of bad mistakes and fired quite a few executives. They have enormous potential to kill everyone but I fear they'll continue to screw up. The rest of them - Red Hawk, Jackson, etc are faring like normal. At this point, no one can touch Thunder Valley however...

JohnnyCashFan692 karma

My friend's parents and extend family are crazy gamblers. They have something called a platinum card with their casino which has preset credit they have to gamble with and they only get to keep their winnings after everything on the card is gambled for that week. Supposedly my friend said in the summer time he collects all his family's cards every week on the weeks they don't gamble, uses them himself on the slots with the best returning odds, and pockets anywhere from $150-$300 free for nothing. He claims to never have gotten caught. How much trouble would he be in in if he got caught or is there nothing wrong with this because his family ultimately is still draining thousands of dollars into this casino?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

It's not that big of a deal really. I used to see people doing it all the time. You can go as far as to say "My brother/mother/sister (whatever) is ill and unable to make it to the casino. I'm playing these credits for them." And you're usually fine. The only problem is if he wins a jackpot. The casino is required to collect your social security to report the earnings to the IRS. The easiest way to do this is to draw information from the player card. If there's a conflict with the system, there's a possibility that the jackpot is forfeited, or the player card gets terminated. You can always say "Oh! All of our cards are put on the same counter and I thought I was playing my card." Like I said, there's any number of ways to weasel out of it or make excuses. All of the money won on a machine has already been collected from other patrons so it only benefits the casino when someone wins. So they like to see people winning jackpots, or wins in general especially the slot attendant/change person who handles it and gets a tip. As I've stated before, the casino is not going to go out of their way to chase you down if you left a ticket behind or fairly won a game that was erroneously dealt/played.

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TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

I know I'm over a day past your AMA, but you've responded to a few of my comments below so I thought I'd ask a few questions. If you see them and answer, thanks!

I'll keep responding forever :) until i die or the flying spaghetti monster returns

Have you been to the casino (I say "the" as I don't know if there's more than one) in Gary, Indiana, and if so did you find it to be the cesspool of humanity that I did?

No have never been. Not licensed in Indiana and have no ambitions to go there.

What are your thoughts on Mississippi Stud? It's very popular where I play but I've never had any luck with it.

Don't like this game either. Another SHFL/Shufflemaster game. Slightly popular in CA but only because it can barely be found. Not a fan of most 'carnival' games (e.g. 4 Card Poker, 3 Card Poker, Blackjack Switch, Caribbean Stud, Ultimate Texas Holdem, Let it Ride, etc.).

Have you worked on any "Extra Reward" games? Not sure the manufacturer, but we've got just a few and they are one of the most popular slots in the joint. On a minimum bet (.45), I got 1297 free spins one night and that is not a one-off event. We cannot stop the reels, that is unique to most games there. I mean stop them anytime, not just in bonus.

Your luck is astounding! 1000+ free spins is pretty awesome. I believe you're referring to the Konami games. I too saw an old man win 1,000+ free games one night and he left with $2,000 on an initial bet of $.60. Fairly rare though and I've only ever lost my ass on Konami games. From a tech standpoint though, Konami machines are the easiest games to work on. The japanese really know how to make tech friendly products (Aruze is also a japanese company with machines quite easy to work on). I love servicing and working on Konami games, but as a player I stay far away from them. I did however greatly enjoy Aruze's Queen games, though I no longer see them anywhere...

djle121 karma

Whats your favorite color?

I take it you are vietnamese male either born in the states or left when he was young? Prob the former.

TheBrokenSwagger8 karma

Silver. I'm of SE Asian origin and ate tons of pho, kapoon, and kaopiet growing up. Not a fan and don't know what the big deal with pho is. But carne asada nachos, that's where it be!

soundawake1 karma

I have been a slot machine tech in Australia for over 10 years. What's the job market like in Vegas? If I got a green card etc etc and moved there, would it be easy for me to get a job?

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

AUS you say? You are probably familiar with Aristocrat's line of machines as well as Star games cabinets (which was bought out by Shufflemaster/SHFL a couple years ago, and now operated by Bally Gaming, who in turn is slowly merging into Scientific games).

The Las Vegas job market is very, VERY good for slot techs and dealers. Most casinos and companies allow 'moonlighting' which is in American speak means you are welcome to work at two companies or properties (with approval from your work of course) if you wish to earn more income. Most dealers I know, do exactly this. One guy was working three places until he could afford to pay off a house entirely (about $200,000 in the Vegas area for a decent house). Once he got there, he quit two jobs and stayed at his favorite one.

As a house tech, you will work very odd hours though, most likely, a midnight to 8am. Or be prepared to work a 6PM to 2AM. Maybe it will fit in line with your 'Australian' clock. Maybe it won't. Many houses are union so pay is decent but be prepared to pay union fees. Also, all casinos on the strip drug test with body hair samples, so make sure you haven't used an illicit drug in the last 3 months. And expect to be randomly tested, via hair, at any time. Most casinos are tied corporately which means the same company owns that casino amongst others. So failing one test pretty much sets you up to be unable to gain employment at another. Yes, until the federal reschedules marijuana, you probably don't want to run into any issues.

You're not limited to just Las Vegas. Every state in the union has some form of gambling in some capacity or another, with the exception of Hawaii, and Utah. I chose CA because this is where I'm from and the weather is outstanding. But if you wanted to work in the south, near Florida, or prefer New York, Maryland... maybe you like Oregon or the endless rain of Washington. There is a casino anywhere. You'll never be hard pressed to find a job and as stated previously, you also won't have a hard time finding a partner if you're coming here alone.

soundawake3 karma

Yeah here in South Australia we have IGT, Konami, Stargames/Bally, Aristocrat and Ainsworth. In my state, BNAs are illegal, so we still only use $1 coins! No printers either. No linked progressive jackpots. Only individual progressive jackpots. Unfortunately, due to pretty much the rest of the world using banknotes and printers, less and less R&D goes toward good coin path design. Hence, pretty much all new machines from all manufacturers have increasing levels of coin faults, diverter faults.

Although we have a casino here, most pubs and bars also have gaming machines, so I am out on the road all day. Which means a free company car I can use for private use too. Ford Fusion wagon. I would struggle to work in a casino now.. I am so used to being by myself out on the road all day.

Is it just me or are the newer machines coming out getting worse and worse as far as design and build quality goes? We just got the Ari Helix here a few months ago, and it is a piece of shit. Ainsworth have always been absolutely fucking dreadful but they are getting better. Boot up times are ridiculously long now. Just say I had to clear a fault or whatever for a customer, and I reboot the machine.. I'm left standing there for over 10 mins just waiting for the game to come back online, all while the patron gets more and more pissed.

TheBrokenSwagger3 karma

Haha! You and I do pretty much the same thing then. Yeah if you have IGT, Konami, Star/Bally, Aristocrat and Ainsworth down, you can pretty much come to the states and be ready to jump in. There are a couple more manufacturers here such as Multimedia, WMS, and Aruze, but everything's pretty much the same.

I'm surprised that bank notes are illegal there. The Star games has a menu where you set denom/bill type and AUS is always the first choice (until we complained and they defaulted us to USD for American machines!).

Yeah I certainly recommend working as a vendor as opposed to being a house tech. I've done both and prefer the freedom and ease of being on my own with little supervision. Just like you, I have my assigned properties and go out to service them when projects are scheduled or they call about an issue. However, 90% of the time, I'm just home looking at emails.

Ainsworth games huh? I used to have a horrible time taking out the top box bezel on their cabinets. I know this was fixed for their newer cabinets but I just never got the hang of squeezing the top and trying like hell to take them off. Still makes me cringe to think about that top box bezel.

soundawake2 karma

The only thing I like about the newer Ainsworth (specifically the A560, don't know if you have that there) is the menu system is well designed and laid out. Try and replace one of the LCDs by yourself though... good luck. The Ari menu system on the Viridian and the Helix is FUCKED. Ari also thought it was a good idea to put the audit switches on the front of the very heavy lower door, so the key will sometimes fall out when the door is opened. These engineers I tell ya... I'd love to meet them to give them a piece of my mind Steve Jobs style. 'See this? This SUCKS. Why would you design that?? IT SUCKS'. Ainsworth also have a fault on their older SL machines where intermittently, they will accept 2 or 3 coins and not credit. Ains have been aware of it for over 5 years and can't/won't fix it. Constantly getting calls logged for machines gobbling coins, and I have to attend and explain that there is nothing we can do about it. I reckon the last, great, simple designed machine was the Ari Mk5/6. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sWHC4nv8POg/STHZT4_DNBI/AAAAAAAAAA4/fdVr3vComfk/s1600-h/Mark6.JPG

TheBrokenSwagger2 karma

lol! awesome! ... Yeah the mark 5s/Mav6s were and still are great machines. When I opened a casino in 2008, we had hundreds of Viridian cabinets. Within the first year, we replaced about 25% of the power supplies. Luckily, Aristocrat replaced them for free. I haven't worked on a Viridian cabinet in a couple years now since I left my last casino to go to Bally. I haven't worked on the newer Ainsworth machines, but my buddy is the local Ainsworth tech and I see him on the road all the time. Seems to be in a great mood usually...

Man hearing you complain about the coins makes me glad we have TITO in CA and NV. Way less problems this way and the regulations are so tight that if the casinos don't fix the issue, the Dept of Justice will come after them. The news didn't make it very far, but one major California casino (Chukchansi) was shut down for being 18 months behind on accounting paperwork. A card room in Sacramento (Casino Royale) was closed down for not having enough money to cover their chips ($55,000 missing!). CA doesn't play around. If the coin problem happened in CA, you bet the state would pull Ainsworth's gaming license in no time!

soundawake2 karma

Yeah I wonder re the Ainsworth problem, that if I went public and the tabloid current affairs programs that air here got a hold of the story... I wish our Liquor and Gambling Commission went after them a bit more.

I haven't had to replace a single Viridian PSU! We only probably got the Viridians here in SA a couple of years ago now, with the widescreen LCDs. Because of our draconian laws on note acceptors, (this is due to one particularly hardline anti gambling senator) we are probably 3-5 years behind the other states here.

When I was in Melbourne a month or so ago I saw a Bally machine (I think), with a curved LCD screen? Know anything about that?

Edit: The SHFL/Bally machines we have here are the Equinox and the newer Equinox multi game machine... the one with the backplane on the front of the logic asssembly. Don't have many faults with the Equinox's, top 3 would be coin jams in the coin entry due to bent coins, broken QL coin mechs due to staff breaking the bottom of them and random rebooting due to PSU or I/O or processor board faults.

TheBrokenSwagger1 karma

Ha...I know all about the Equinox cabinet. No one ever complains about those, as we usually run them on an in house progressive. I've never had a backplane or CPU/logic ever go bad on them.

The Bally cabinet you're talking about are the 'Wave' cabinets. Bally is trying hard to sell those along with the Curve. From a tech standpoint, the Wave is just awkward and replacing the monitor is a two man job IMO. The Curve cabinet also had a bunch of issues with firmware (random error messages popping up, forcing a reboot which takes 10 mins). Otherwise, few problems.

In regards to Ainsworth - here in CA with the bill acceptors and printers, we usually didn't have any problems. They make nice looking machines though I would never play them as I've only ever lost my ass on them :(

thelostdutchman1 karma

I live in a state that does not have real craps tables. Instead we have these machine craps tables. Are these tables programmed to exactly mimic the game or as I expect does the casino have a better edge?

TheBrokenSwagger3 karma

I got into an argument one time with a fellow slot tech about this. According to him, the advantage was already built into the craps rules. We also can't have 'real' craps here in California. When I was in Denver it was the opposite - they could have real craps and roulette, but only allowed Blackjack. I'm sure the rules have changed since I've left. That being said, according to the designers and engineers at Bally, Interblock and Shufflemaster (SHFL), these machines emulated the real table games to the tee. I'm not a believer because I played the roulette machine that Bally makes and it cock blocked me every time (when betting on the outside bets). I seriously bet EVEN about 20 times in a row with the minimum bet and only won about 4 of those times. Based on that, I estimate that just like slot machines, they operate on a win/loss percentage algorithm. There are a few slot designers on here, they can probably answer better than me. I'd stay away however...