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Best of Alan Krigman
To some folks, of course, easy money is the whole point of casino gambling. Give it a try, they think. If you're lucky, you win. If not, it didn't cost much more than a night at a pro ball game - and you got a free buffet, free drinks while you were playing, and free admission to a classy lounge show.
But, even solid citizens who understand the games and the odds can get fooled. Take slots that offer "more ways to win." These machines create a compelling illusion that players somehow have a better shot at that pot of platinum.
Video poker furnishes an example. Purists can still find ordinary five-card draw machines with simple pay tables. But they're not as common or popular as games which provide more ways to win with features like wild cards and bonuses for selected hands. The extras, though, are accompanied by three drawbacks.
Maybe you've seen the new four-reelers with the "nudge" feature. If the machine stops on a "near miss," you can touch the glass and nudge one reel to the next position, creating a winning line-up. Does this really offer a second chance? Say the computer decides that a particular pull is a winner. It may show four stars across. Or three stars side by side, and the fourth where you can nudge it into line. One chance to win, two ways to show it.
Overall, bet the same dollar and get more ways to win less or as many ways to win as much. To improve your chance to win more, you have to bet more on more bets - raising new issues altogether.
None of this necessarily says to avoid certain slots. Lest I spoil your fun, if you like a "more ways to win" machine, and are playing with recess and not lunch money, go for it. While these slots are no better than their plain vanilla twins, neither are they worse. Anyway, what's wrong with picking a machine because of an illusion? Isn't illusion what casinos are all about?
The immortal Sumner A Ingmark, whose poetic genius has also been labeled an illusion, put it thus: