Slot Tournaments

Discussion in 'Other Games Events' started by gronbog, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    These generally don't get mentioned here, I would assume because of the (almost) complete lack of skill involved. For those of you who have never played one, they generally set the machines to a mode in which every spin wins something or, at the very least, does not lose anything. They then set a timer, usually something like 5 minutes, and start the round. At the end of the allotted time the top scores advance and/or receive prizes.

    I said "(almost) complete lack of skill" above because the one "skill" involved is to minimize the amount of time that the reels aren't spinning. One extra spin during the round can make a difference in your finishing position. Many folks take the approach of hammering away on the "play" button, which results in quite a frenzy in the tournament area.

    The reason I bring this up is that, despite the lack of any mental stimulation, these tournaments can be a decent +EV opportunity under the right conditions.

    • I just came back from vacation at a casino resort that had a daily slot tournament which was free to enter. The tournament area had 20 machines and you could enter one 5 minute session each day. The first session was at 9am and was frequently ill-attended (there were only 12 players on one particular day). The prizes were awarded as free slot play. First prize in each session was $100 USD, second was $50, third was $25 and everyone else got $10. So for a full session, the expected value was $17.25 in free slot play which became as much as $22.08 with only 12 players. That may not sound like much, but I challenge you to find another opportunity for that much EV in 5 minutes elsewhere in the casino, without risking a substantial bet! Add it up for each day you are there and you have an expected $124.25 to $154.56 giveaway for a one week stay.

      Now you're saying, "but it's free slot play and not worth the full value". This is true, but if you play through it once on a low denomination machine (in order to maximize the number of spins/plays), your result should be within a reasonable range of the machine's programmed payout rate. There will of course be some variance, which will decrease as the number of spins/plays increases. In my case, I played 4 times and was lucky enough to finish 1st, 2nd, 6th and 3rd. My free play session results were $100 -> $105, $50 -> $30, $10 -> $18, $25 -> $20. I ended up with $173 from $185 in free play in exchange for 20 minutes of my time without any risk at all. Compare that to the ~$1,000 I netted from the rest of my casino activity over approximately 9 hours of play while risking my own money.

    • I just got a mailer about a slot tournament at a local casino. The prize pool is $40,000 CAD for an entry fee of $200 with only 115 seats. The top prize is $20,000 and the top 20 participants will finish in the money. Hopefully you see what I see, which is the $17,000 overlay. Just by pure luck alone, this event has a better EV ($147.83 or 74% of the entry fee) than any blackjack tournament I have ever played, even after factoring in my own skill level vs the skill level of the field. With only 115 participants I also have roughly the same odds of winning the grand prize as I have estimated for those same blackjack tournaments and a better chance of finishing in the money.
    My point is that, while we love the mental stimulation and challenge of tournament play, don't rule out other opportunities which may offer better EV, or a free roll. Over time, these can add significantly to your bankroll.
    PlayHunter and The_Professional like this.
  2. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    I saw a format advertised a while ago that added an unusual twist. If I recall the details correctly, I think there were to be 5 players, each assigned a machine, but they rotate through the machines, playing to try and lose (or not win) money for their rivals when not seated at their own machine. It was referred to as a 'sabotage' tournament.:)
    PlayHunter and gronbog like this.
  3. KenSmith

    KenSmith Administrator Staff Member

    I just signed up for an invitational slot tournament later this month. It's about $375 in free value.

    Admittedly, I feel like a hamster in a wheel while playing, but hey, free EV is a good thing.
  4. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    As the machines become more sophisticated, there can sometimes be an element of "participating" as opposed to just hammering away. If the machines are video machines (as opposed to the older physical reels), it can be more like playing a video game. In the free roll tournament I was describing above, the machines were video machines and, while you were hammering away on the "play" button, targets would occasionally pop up on the screen which, when touched, awarded extra points. One special target would immediately elevate you into first place if you were lucky enough to get it. There were some players who didn't immediately understand this, so I suppose there was even a bit of an advantage to be had for the players who did.

    In addition, on the display was the leader board, so you could see how you were doing and each machine had a built-in camera so you could see the frenzied looks of concentration on the other players's faces. Add to that music and an automated play-by-play voice-over announcing the lead changes and cracking jokes and I can honestly say that I had fun participating. Since my family members were also playing, the interactive experience created a fun competitive atmosphere for us as we cheered (and jeered) each other on.
  5. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    Team Play

    One other thing I want to mention is that if you enter these things as a group, you won't improve your EV but you can smooth out the variance. In the daily tournament, I had 3 family members with me and, on the day that only 12 players showed up (including us) for the 9am session, we had 4 of the 12 seats. This improved our chances of one or more of us finishing in the top 3 positions, which had the higher prizes. By agreeing to split any winnings, we would each retain the same EV but enjoy it at a more consistent rate. The more seats you can cover with your team, the lower the variance. To see this, consider the case where you somehow manage to fill every seat in the session with team members. You would then, as a team, win the exact same amount in every session, making your variance zero.

    Reducing variance is definitely important when an entry fee is involved, but also a useful tool when trying to extract EV from short term or occasional events.

    Of course, as is often the case when I try to explain AP concepts to my family, their eyes just glazed over and they weren't interested in the team approach. :rolleyes:
    PlayHunter likes this.
  6. The_Professional

    The_Professional Active Member

    In these tournaments I always wondered if there was an "optimal" speed for pushing the button. In other words, one can keep pushing so fast but some of these pushes are not effective because the machine still rolling, i.e.. there is a refractory period. Removing the finger and pushing it again might not be as fast as having all the pushes go through.
  7. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    Certainly, in the hammer away approach, most of the pushes are wasted. What you want is for the next push after the machine resets to come as quickly as possible, and hammering away is one way to approach this. This is especially true of the newer video machines, some of which which complete a spin cycle (lol) rather quickly (about 1 second for the ones I recently played). I am a musician and, as such, have a high physical tolerance for repetitive, economical, rhythmic movement. I would estimate that, with one hand, I can maintain a pace of at least 8 presses on the button per second for the entire 5 minutes. This means that the time it takes me to start the next cycle is between 0 and 1/8 of a second. With the older, mechanical reel machines, the cycle takes longer and I usually stop hammering until only the 3rd reel is spinning.

    Other approaches I have seen:
    • The "bongo" technique, in which the player uses two hands to alternately push the button. With this technique, your speed can easily exceed the recoil speed of the button, but it takes more concentration to maintain (any drummers in the crowd?). This technique can sometimes result in the button jamming resulting in significant wasted time. This can also happen with one-handed hammering, but not as often.
    • The timing technique, in which the player tries to react to the end of the cycle with a single push of the button. This results in a more uniform restart rate which depends on your reaction time.
    I personally think that the time between repetitive hits, for most people, is probably shorter than their reaction time.

    I didn't expect this thread to actually get technical! o_O
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  8. The_Professional

    The_Professional Active Member

    8 presses per second is quite impressive- you should do more of these tournaments. I would guess most people can do 3-4 per second on average.
  9. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    Heh -- at the risk of dating myself, years of playing Galaxian at the corner arcade probably didn't hurt. Same issue -- you could only get two bullets(?) on the screen at once, but you wanted the next one as soon as it was available.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  10. PlayHunter

    PlayHunter Active Member

    I know that biggest wins usually come from triggering the free spins or bonus rounds when it come to video slots tournaments.
    And I have read somewhere that statistically those features in video slots are triggered once at anything between 50 and 100 spins.

    At what I am thinking now is for the tournaments where there is no time limit, but only bankroll chips limit.
    Is it a good strategy to lower the bet for a couple next spins immediately after you have just played a bonus round ?
    I am thinking this way you can "save" some chips by betting lower and save them for later when a new bonus round should statistically hit ?
    I have rarely seen a feature triggered immediately (say in the next 10 spins) after another feature was just consumed..
  11. gronbog

    gronbog Top Member

    Careful! You're creeping into voodoo territory here. The notion that a bonus spin is less likely immediately after one has just hit is part of slot-ploppy folklore as is he notion that one becomes more likely the longer you go without hitting one.
    PlayHunter likes this.

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