Putting Bills Into a Machine

I recently received this email — slightly shortened and lightly edited:

Just got back from my first trip to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and Foxwoods. 

Game:  9/7 Double Bonus.  $1 denomination.  Five credits at a time.  


Day 1:  +$1,400.00.  Mohegan Sun.

Day 2:  -$2,000.00 Foxwoods.  (Only hit one four-of-a-kind in 4 hours of play).

              -$400.00 Mohegan.   

Tally:  $-1,000.00  – I would estimate around 7-8 hours of continuous play.

Question:  I was absolutely frigid ice cold at Foxwoods.  I tried moving machines 5 or 6 times.  They all ended up being pretty much the same, which is not usually the case for me.  Usually, I can jump on another one and at least initially, start doing better which sometimes leads to positive momentum and other times not.

I probably answered my own question here, but I was just curious what you do during a long session of +4 hours or more when you’re on the losing end of the variance.  Do you continuously play on the same machine from the beginning of your session or switch?

Looking back of course hindsight being 20/20, the only thing different I would have done to protect my winnings from Day 1 a little better would have been to decrease my denomination somewhat perhaps to 50c.  I honestly didn’t expect to take such an incredible beating after such a great Day 1, wasn’t even on my radar.  Perhaps I wasn’t prepared, but on the other hand I still feel I played well.  Nonetheless, I’m disappointed.

My first thought when I read this was, “No big deal. Welcome to dollar double bonus. Happens all the time.”

While I’ve never played a game as tight as 9/7 DB (99.1%) for such an extended period, unless there was an unusually good promotion along with it, I’ve had several hundred sessions of dollar 10/7 (100.2%) for similar time periods. Assuming we’re talking about $30,000 coin-in, the average loss for 9/7 is about $250 (for 10/7 it’s about $50 to the good), but a loss of $1,000 or even $2,000 is fairly commonplace.

There will be occasional sessions where you hit a royal, or multiple sets of good quads ($400 or $800) and have nice little wins. But barring those hands, you’ll often lose. That’s just how the game goes.

My guess is that the person who emailed me is either new to double bonus, or new to playing at dollars. (He will learn over time that a $2,000 loss is hardly an “incredible beating.”) There was a sort of “sticker shock” at the negative swings this time, but those will go away over time. You get used to them. I’m not sure why he was playing such a negative game for so many hours, but some players do that.

He says he likes to switch machines when things are going bad, and that this strategy has worked for him in the past. Basically, that doesn’t work. Sometimes it works, of course, and sometimes staying on the same machine turns things around as well. You can’t do both at the same time. Pick one. The fact that it did or didn’t work on one specific time had nothing to do with the “machine-switching.” It was simply a result that the 500 (say) hands you played after such and such a time had a different result than the 500 hands you played previously. This was going to be true whether you switched machines or not.

He also says that hindsight is 20/20. This, of course, is nonsense. At best, he’ll remember what happened “this time.” But “this time” is just one data point. Sometimes things will turn around after a slow start. Sometimes they won’t. Remembering one of the times they did, or didn’t, won’t tell you anything about what’s going to happen next time.

Over time, when you have dozens or hundreds of such data points, you begin to get a feel for the range of things that can happen. If your memory can keep all that straight (or you write your scores down and review them periodically), you begin to achieve wisdom. But remembering what happened during one session? Worthless.


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