John Grochowski, Casino Answer Man

Q. I have a question about your "money management" column. If you were at a positive expectation game - a game with a positive pay table - and if you also had the benefits of cashback or some other comps from your play - would the advice in your article still hold? Or, can players who are playing a positive expectation game with additional benefits ignore the need and advice for win/loss goals?

How would you respond to a comment such as this: "I have the advantage on every hand I play, why should I stop?"

A. The win goals/loss limits advice applies only to negative expectation games, which means it applies to a vast majority of players. For the most part, I'd agree with the "why should I stop" comment. I'd put no win goal/loss limit restrictions on players who have an edge on the house, provided bankroll is sufficient.

I'd just add a couple of cautions. Advantage players in blackjack need to be wary of surveillance catching onto their edge. The longer you play, the more likely it is that you're going to be spotted. Counting cards is not illegal, but casinos are private clubs and can bar you from playing. One defense is to play short sessions and to move on after an hour or so, win or lose.

Advantage players at any game need to be wary of fatigue. Regardless of whether you're a blackjack card counter, dice controller at craps or a video poker player who sticks to expert strategy at the best games, if you play when weary you're going to start making mistakes. Get some rest, and come back to the games refreshed.

Q. I don't know if this question has been asked (I'm sure it has) but I will ask anyway. When you play these games that have the mini-maxi jackpots such as Vibrant 7s, does the amount of the bet with the extra feature activated matter which level jackpot you happen to win? Sometimes I will play max bet ($2.60), hit the number bonus feature and win the mini. I have seen a player wagering $.60 and hit the top prize. The machine itself states to play a higher denomination to increase your chances at hitting the jackpot. Does it really matter?

Another question is in regards to games including China Shores and China Mystery. The amount of potential free spins potential - is it tied to the amount of the wager? I see people hitting 500 free spins on lower denomination bets but have never seen that many on a max bet. Is it safe to assume that the machine is programmed this way? After all, it is a computer!

A. I don't know the specifics of Vibrant 7s, a Konami game I've never played, but there are two ways programmers can allow players with different bet sizes to play for the same-sized jackpots. One is by using a side bet for jackpot eligibility. Maybe you're betting five coins per payline and I'm betting only one per line, but jackpot eligibility requires a separate bet of 10, 15 or sometimes more coins. So, even though are bets are different overall, we're betting the same amount on the progressive portion of the game.

The other way is through the use of mystery programming. With mystery programming, the player who bets more does have a greater chance at the jackpot - not just at the largest level, but at all levels.

Progressive jackpots are built by adding a percentage of every player's wager to the pot. The RNG is programmed to select a jackpot amount, and when the jackpot reaches that amount, it will hit. If the amount selected for the top jackpot is $1,134.17, then the player whose bet pushes the jackpot to $1,134.17 will win it. If we're talking a mini-jackpot, and the RNG selects the value of $8.63, the player whose wager pushes the jackpot to $8.53 wins.

If you're betting $2.60 and I'm betting 60 cents, then you are adding more to the jackpot totals and therefore are getting more chances to win.

In the short term anything can happen. The minimum bettor can win the top jackpot. But if you watched over a very long time, you'd find that bigger bettors were winning jackpots of all levels more frequently than the small bettors. On the average, it will take fewer spins between jackpots if you bet more money.

As for the number of free spins, that is not tied to bet size. What you've seen is just coincidence. Over a long time, the frequency of a high number of free spins versus a low number of freebies would be the same regardless of your bet size.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (; Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at Casino Answer Man runs every week.

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