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Smarter Bet Guide to Slots and Video Poker
by Basil Nestor
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A pocket-sized book that provides a clear-cut explanation of payback comparisons, progressive jackpots and how to evaluate them, video poker strategy tables, and other mathematically derived techniques to lower the casino advantage.
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How Do Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) Compare to Slots?

Q Can you answer a question for me about VLTs (video lottery terminals)? I'm trying to determine how the casino controls the payouts versus the way that regular slots are controlled by an RNG (randomBasil NestorBasil Nestor is the author of the new Playboy Complete Guide to Casino Gambling. This wonderful book teaches players how to avoid sucker bets and win more when playing gambling games.  He is also the author of The Smarter Bet Guide series for video poker, slots, craps, and many other books about gambling.  Basil's website is  number generator). The reason why I ask is because the casino where I play has VLTs, and they seem to be much tighter than regular slots.
A In a traditional Class III slot machine (the type used in Nevada), the RNG plays the game with virtual reels that spin conceptually. These reels can contain hundreds of stops and create millions of combinations. The results of the virtual game are displayed on the machine's physical reels.
In contrast, a VLT plays a virtual lottery game. In some VLT versions, the machine receives a virtual scratch-off ticket, like the kind you might buy at a convenience store. The video reels spin and reveal results consistent with whatever is on the ticket. In other versions, the machine plays a virtual bingo game. It receives a bingo card from a central computer, and various linked terminals play the bingo game to conclusion. Then the video reels spin and reveal results consistent with whatever occurred in the bingo game. Since VLTs are simply computer terminals linked to central computers, the games necessarily are generated and played by an RNG.
My book The Smarter Bet Guide to Slots and Video Poker has a comprehensive review of how RNGs work, but in brief, it doesn't really matter how a contest "spins the reels" as long as the process is sufficiently random. Consider the Class III virtual reels that I mentioned previously. The final results wouldn't be noticeably different if the RNG simply picked one number from a group of numbers. Thus the mathematic methods of supplying the decisions in VLTs may be radically different than traditional RNG methods. But in the end, 1 in 10 is still 1 in 10, and 1 in 5,000 is still 1 in 5,000.
Alas, VLTs tend to be tight simply because they are offered in markets where there is little competition. Generally, the payback on these machines is somewhere between 85 percent and 92 percent. Looser games are rare. If you play in a casino that offers VLTs and traditional slots, you probably will be better off choosing the traditional slots. If the casino has only VLTs, play as your prefer but remember that the machines are likely to be extremely tight compared to games in jurisdictions such as Las Vegas.
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