I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Million Dollar Slots - book review

Million Dollar Slots is the story of how Peter Liston, an accountant, turned high school teacher, turned advantage player ran $500 into millions playing slot machines. Yes, that's right - he is an advantage player that just plays slots, and he's been doing it for 18 years. It bears repeating - Every game in the casino can be beat under the right conditions, and this book is one more example. How does he do it? Progressives

The book is mostly a memoir telling the story of how he discovered progressive slots, learned to figure out the math, and started playing with his new-found knowledge, and a bankroll of $500. Like many successful advantage players Peter got extremely lucky when he first started playing. (Many who get unlucky just give up.) In Peter's case he went from $500 to a million in (I believe) 15 months. In one case he dodged a bullet that could have bankrupted him, and ended this story. In the old days a slot machine was a mechanical device. You pulled a handle and the reels spun, and landed on a symbol. Each symbol on the reel had an equal chance of hitting. If there were 3 reels, and each reel had 20 spots, and there was one jackpot symbol on each reel then the chance of hitting the jackpot was 20x20x20 = 8,000. Easy right? Well about 25 years ago they started using computer chips to control the slot reels. Now the reel might have 20 spots, and one jackpot symbol on each reel, but the computer could be programmed that the jackpot symbol only comes up once in every 25 spins or 30... or 300! For example the Megabucks machines jackpot symbol only hits once every 368 spins. (But they can also program the symbol next to the jackpot to come up a lot so it seems like you are almost getting the jackpot.) So in the case of Megajunk the odds of hitting it are 1 in 368x368x368 or 1 chance in 49,836,032. Back to Peter. He played a slot that he thought had was the old free spinning type with 22 stops per reel, and later discovered to his horror that it was the newer computer controlled type, and was programmed for 25 stops per reel. It could have been 30 or 40 stops per reel in which case he would still be teaching high school, and we wouldn't have this book to read.

But Peter learned, and became quite a successful player. He started in Australia where conditions are very different than they are in the US. Some thing apply anywhere, like the following 2 quotes:

"In all forms of professional gambling your playing environment is constantly changing. Adaptability will help you to make the most of your opportunities."

"New casinos have several advantages. Their inducements are usually very good, the locals have no idea how to play the jackpots to advantage, and the casinos sometimes make mistakes."

Some of the differences are laughable:

"Venues don't really care who wins their jackpots because the money set aside in them belongs to the players not the venue."

This is definitely not the case in Las Vegas. It always has boggled my mind that Vegas casinos bar slot players, but believe me they do. Vegas casinos believe that if something is good for the player, it must be bad for the casino. They haven't figured out that it is possible to be good for both parties. Slot players have been harassed, assaulted, and 86ed.

Warning - don't read this book thinking you will have an easy explanation for earning tens of thousands of dollars. These opportunities take work, and the book will teach you how to think about these opportunities, but it will not hand them out on a silver platter. I can also tell you that Vegas is not a good venue for this type of advantage play. One of the reasons Peter was so successful was when he started there was no competition. When there are good opportunities in Vegas - pretty much at any game, you can bet there will be competition.

I've often said that you have to scout every game in the casino, but I admit I have not been scouting the slots. Reading this book did make me think I should be taking another look at the slot areas. I have experience playing progressive slots from 25 years ago, but that is a story for another time. I will say it is about the most boring advantage play you can imagine, although it would be better now that you don't have to feed coins in and actually pull a handle.

This book is not literature, but it is very short, and a breeze to read. You can probably finish it in a couple hours. There is too much - and then I played this kind of machine and won this jackpot, and then I won 3 BMWs, and then I won at video Keno. But I still say it is worth a read. It should give you some new ideas when walking though your local casino.

Peter will be the guest this week on Gambling With an Edge so be sure to check out the show.
Gambling With an Edge with guest Peter Liston
Here is a link to his book. Million Dollar Slots

1 comment:

Lancehac said...

To be MUCH MORE PRECISE, the book WILL NOT reveal HOW (i.e., the exact strategy) to achieve the slots advantage! That, Liston kept to himself . . . unlike Ian Anderson, Standford Wong, Knock-Out blackjack, The Grifter, etc. who actually used their books to teach how it's done.