Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cherry Dribblers or Cherry Bombs?

I just wrapped up G2E Day 3, and after all is said and done, one thing (other then the impending doom that is Server Based Gaming) is sticking in my craw.

Yesterday, I was discussing the Williams (WMS -- but I've learned most people refer to the company as "Williams") Transmissive Video Reels "Monopoly Super Money Grab" game with one of their representatives.

If you've read my former posts, than you'll know I am not a fan of these machines that Williams introduced with much hoopla, and online enticements.

I should know better than to offer my opinion as a humble player to industry insiders, but I just don't friggin' give a sh*t -- if it wasn't for us, these jokers wouldn't have a job. There I said it.

I said something to the effect that the "Money Grab" machines weren't performing up to expectations, (I base this on my own experiences, and that a bank of the machines at Red Rock have already been replaced with the newer model "John Wayne" machines only after a few months, while "Monopoly Grand Hotel" machines introduced around the same time and located on the other side of the bank are still always occupied and quite popular.) and the Williams guy insisted they were doing great. He backed this up with a comment about seeing the numbers, and knowing for a fact that they were performing quite well. I replied that I couldn't argue with the numbers, but that as a player I just couldn't win on them, didn't like the gimmick and was quickly turned off. That's when he said "Well, they are VOLATILE machines!"

VOLATILE -- a word I had never heard used to describe a slot machine.

In general, to me -- a Junior College Dropout -- but a person who prides themselves on a better than average grasp of English vocabulary, volatile means unpredictable and prone to violent outbursts.

So what exactly, is a volatile slot machine? My guess before doing the perfunctory internet research was one that may be frustrating in the short term, but after a prolonged investment may pay off in spades.

Last week I drove past Silverton Casino and noticed their video billboard advertised a lucky player who won the "Super Money Grab" progressive to the tune of $600 + thousand dollars.

I rarely bet the max to qualify for the progressive, or invest more than a couple of $20 bills in any one machine (unless of course I'm drunk, pms-ing, or "Life of Luxury Far East Fortunes" is involved.)

Still I connected the dots, the "Super Money Grab" machine is not a "cherry dribbler" burping out small wins to suck the gambler in, but perhaps a "cherry bomb" a machine that promises and is programmed for the big win.

Check out this article from the New York Times (2004) by Gary Rivlin entitled "The Tug of the Newfangled Slot Machines" for a fascinating look inside the mind of chief IGT game designer Anthony Baerlocher. At more than 3 years old, it is rather outdated, but still gives a great background on the developmental process of a themed slot machine.

A few more google searches and I learned that slot machines had VOLATILITY INDEXES. I'm surprised this is a term I had never encountered before, perhaps the ole slot jock needs a little remedial education in Slots 101. According to "Strictly Slots" the Volatility Index " is a number that casino managers use to determine whether or not the results (i.e. a machine’s hold percentage) are in line with expectations, or whether something is wrong and needs investigating." It involves mathematical equations too advanced for my brain to wrap around, but the concept is simple enough.

It makes sense that if "Super Money Grab" is a volatile progressive machine, it wouldn't begin to approach it's expected payouts for quite some time. There goes the myth that new machines pay out better than old ones. From now on I will play new machines with more care.

So, gentle reader, the word of the day is VOLATILE -- not just as it applied to your ex-husband, wife, or significant other, but how it applies to something much more near and dear to your heart -- your slot machine.

Go in peace, and Good Luck!

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