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No, that jackpot never was yours

John Grochowski

John Grochowski

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Updated: October 3, 2012 5:59PM



Walking the aisles at a busy casino, I saw the lights flash and heard the music change to celebration mode — surefire signs that someone had just hit the jackpot.

I walked toward the winner to see what was going on, and it turned out that a woman who appeared to be in her 40s had just lined up the three doubler symbols on a Double Diamond reel-spinning game. She looked stunned as the attendant took her information for a $2,500 jackpot.

Someone else looked stunned, too. Another woman, maybe a little older, looked right at me and said, “That should have been MINE! I just left that machine!”

Over the years a number of readers have relayed tales of jackpots hit on machines they just left, but this was the first time I’d actually seen it happen. Second time, if you want to count the time I was the winner.

That incident was in Las Vegas about 15 years ago, when I sat down at a dollar Deuces Wild video poker machine and drew four 2s on my first hand. It was a crowded bank of games, and I got a seat only by being there when another fellow left. He didn’t seem pleased at my good fortune.

“You stole my jackpot!” he yelled.

I just shrugged and waited for my payoff. I don’t think he’d have been much consoled by an explanation of random number generators.

Random number generators on electronic gaming devices that include slots, video poker, video keno and other games run continuously, even when the game is not in use. They also run very fast. By the time one player leaves a game and another starts to play, the RNG has moved several thousand potential outcomes down the road.

Even if the original player had stayed put, he or she probably wouldn’t have won that same jackpot. Timing would have to be the same down to a small fraction of a second. Some of the most sophisticated RNGs have variable entry points to the algorithm that calculates the random numbers. Whether you hit “max bet,” “repeat bet,” or “bet one,” whether you push buttons or pull handles, and on video games where you touch the screen all can result in different outcomes.

There’s no question of should haves. The jackpot is yours only if you’re the one making the bet.

John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com.



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