Slot attendants can be some of the most helpful people in a casino. They can make change or point you in the direction of your favorite machine. Some will reprint your players’ club card for you and bring it right back over to the machine you’re playing just so you don’t have to get up. Most are knowledgeable about all sorts of casino happenings and can be used to get information on everything from promotions to upcoming events and shows.
One other thing all slot attendants typically have in common is a key ring hanging from their waist with several different keys hanging from it, virtually all of which are for various slot machine functions. Still, with all these keys and seemingly unlimited access to every machine in the casino, you might be surprised at just how much a slot attendant can do. You might be even more surprised at how much they can’t do.
The most basic of the keys on this ring – and usually the smallest one – is called a "reset" key. This tiny key is universal, so it will fit every machine in the casino regardless of manufacturer. In fact, this key won’t just fit every machine in the casino – it’ll fit every machine in every casino.
The reason this key is universal is because it can’t really do any harm. No machine door can be opened with a reset key, so it doesn’t provide access to any internal workings or, more importantly, any money. You can’t even turn the machine off with it. You can, however, perform many other useful functions with this tiny key.
The primary function of the aptly named reset key is to reset a machine after a jackpot. Reset keys also allow attendants to look back at the recent play history, display the times and amounts of cash in and cash out transactions, calibrate the touch-screen and place the machine out of service. Most of these functions can be used to settle player disputes or, in the case of placing it out of service, to lock the machine out from further play until a technician can solve a more serious problem.
While most common issues can be handled with the reset key, there are other problems that crop up from time to time requiring other keys be used to open various doors and compartments on the machines. The most common is probably the bill jam, where a bill validator eats your money without giving you any credits on the game.
When a bill gets stuck, the slot attendant needs to pull another key off their ring and open the main door to the game. These game door keys are not universal among all casinos like the reset key, however each casino will typically key as many of their machines alike as possible. Some older machines or games by different manufacturers can’t always be keyed to match, so the attendant might have a few different main door keys on their belt.
The main door will allow access to the bill validator head, where virtually all eaten bills end up – just beyond the point where you put the bill into the machine but before the bill makes it down into the cash box. It’s a simple matter for the attendant to pull out the bill validator head and retrieve your bill once the main door is open. They can’t get access into the cash box with their keys for obvious reasons, but the validator head is no problem.
Many gamblers dislike situations where an attendant or technician has to open a door to get a problem resolved though, fearing the machine will somehow react to the opening of a door or perhaps the staff member will tighten things up while they’re in there. These things are impossible. Game odds cannot be changed simply by opening a door and machines aren’t human – they don’t "react" to anything. They just do what they’re told.
As for tightening things up, there’s not a key on any ring that can do that. Changing the payback percentage of a game is far more involved than a flick of a switch. Special microchips called "key chips" are needed and the touch-screen is used to make program changes during the lengthy process, so there’s really no way for them to tighten anything without your knowledge if you’re standing right there.
The attendant can fix a touch-screen that’s not working properly though. They can retrieve lost bills, fix sticky buttons, check game history and even adjust the volume of the game with a simple twist of a key. So next time you’re disappointed at not being able to play the game you wanted because it won’t take your money or it has a bad touch-screen, don’t just switch machines. Call an attendant. You might be surprised at how helpful they can be.
FINDING the EDGE
Poker players who want to stand the test of time need to find an edge. This ability to find and exploit an edge is the main factor in who makes it and who doesn’t. The following story illustrates how you can have both earning power and an edge at the same time. I was heads-up with a player named Mike Harthcock in the last satellite for the World Series of Poker Main Event.
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