Pedal ‘N Play

What do you know and think about a slot machine where you actually exercise while gambling? Laureen M.

Stop the insanity! I can theorize what’s next. Insert five quarters to use the casino lavatory and be forced to keep playing until toilet paper appears. Yes, Laureen, machines that work out your muscles and rid you of excessive weight in your wallet do exist. Called Pedal ‘N Play and the Money Mill, the concept of its inventors, Fitness Gaming Corporation, was to design a bike and treadmill fitted with a slot machine. One little hitch, Laureen. You can’t exercise without feeding the slot, and you can’t feed the slot without exercising. Yuck! I know plenty of other ways to stimulate my Pavlov need for greed, and it surely isn’t exercise.

For those trying to procure a jackpot while peddling pounds away, they are currently at the Trump Marina Hotel in Atlantic City and on Carnival Cruise Lines’ Fun Ships. If these machines are eventually going to be an industry-wide success, let me give the casino marketing geniuses some free, unsolicited advice. Park them just outside the exit door of their cattle-feed buffets. The guilt ridden just might climb aboard.

Monthly I take a trip to Atlantic City. My bankroll is usually about $300. I “generally” play $1 machines and of course I “generally” go home a loser, that is unless I hit a decent-sized jackpot. That hasn’t happened in a long, long time. Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated. Phil L.

It’s just modern math, Phil, taught to me by Sister Cyrilla in fifth grade. Your typical slot player pulls a handle once every ten seconds. On a 3-coin dollar machine, wagering $3 per spin, that’s $18 per minute or $1,080 per hour. Because the average machine in Atlantic City returns 92.5% to the player, over the long run a slot player will lose approximately $80 for every hour of play. A four-hour stay will cost you $320, which is slightly more than your stated bankroll. Simple “Rithmetic,” taps you out. You might want to consider playing a smaller (25¢) denomination machine, or switch to wagers advocated in this column in which the casino’s edge is less than 2%.

In regards to video poker, which do you recommend? Playing one quarter or five nickels? Mandy B.

As a rule, if you’re not financially able to play the maximum amount of coins, you shouldn’t be playing that denomination of machine. Sort of like buying a boat, Mandy. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it. If your objective is to stretch your bankroll at video poker machines, play five nickels instead of one quarter. A royal flush, with five coins inserted, pays 4,000 nickels ($200); a single quarter will pay only 250 coins ($62.50) for a royal. Despite the clear advantage of a royal, you still need to shop for value and make sure the payoffs for all the other hands on the nickel machine are as good as or at least close to those on the 25¢ model. Otherwise, the house advantage will grind away your bankroll at a helter-skelter pace.

Gambling thought of the week: This quote crossed my desk this week from a reader. Those of you with the same passion and affliction for betting motor sports as I, might enjoy it. “Race fans, I had inferred from my one trip to the Brickyard 400, fell into one of two categories: tattooed, shirtless, sewer-mouthed drunks, and their husbands.” ­ Steve Ruchin, Sports Illustrated