General vintage slot machine related topics.
Bent Copper
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Allwin Skill

Postby Bent Copper » Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:19 pm

I know that some people think that there is an element of skill involved in playing an Allwin, and they try and manipulate the trigger with great precision. Personally I think that this skill element is a complete illusion, and there is no skill involved at all. Of course, the manufacturers wanted to pretend that skill was involved, possibly for legal reasons, and to act as a challenge. But I say that the game is just as random as a one-arm bandit. (Although much more fun of course.)

What do others think?

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Yorkshire Pudding
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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby Yorkshire Pudding » Wed Dec 20, 2006 4:55 pm

Isn't this why Bryans invented the variable pressure device that changed the pressure of the hammer spring after a payout? I would imagine they found that a seasoned player could slightly tilt the odds by finding and getting used to an optimum pressure.

Possibly.

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pennymachines
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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby pennymachines » Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:15 pm

Here's my penny's worth...

Bryan's gadget was designed to throw skilful players off their mark by altering the tension on the striker spring following a win, but in practice I think it makes very little difference. You fire the trigger by feel - not by gauging its exact position, so you automatically compensate for the variation. Mr Bryan clearly thought an allwin was a game of skill - or he wouldn't have added the widget. Even if it was ineffective, it looked good in the sales brochures to showmen who were also worried about skilful players.

Allwins had to walk the skill/luck tightrope and some fall on the wrong side of the line. Every so often you find a machine which is too generous or which becomes too generous when you've mastered it. Usually they haven't seen a lot of use and were retired early when the operator discovered the empty hopper.

The perfect balance is struck when a really skilful player can increase their odds, but not to the extent of consistently beating the machine.

On the other side of the line are allwins where luck clearly predominates, such as the multi-cups. Instead of aiming somewhere near the middle of a winning gallery, you're being asked to target a tiny cup. No chance! Or should I say pure chance if it happens to bounce into one of the other cups on the way down.

Bent Copper
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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby Bent Copper » Thu Dec 21, 2006 3:11 am

With regards to the Bryans device, that was invented for the Pilwin Play, which was not a conventional Allwin because it just had a closed spiral. Whether you won or not depended purely upon the distance that the ball was propelled along the spiral, and there were no obstacles in the way. So in this case, a skillful player could win every time, and Bryans had to include a method of varying the hammer pressure to try and combat that. (I think this later became just a sales gimmick.)

But on a conventional Allwin, this is not the case. The speed of the ball really has no bearing(!) on the final outcome, because there are more factors involved than just how far the ball travels along the track.

OK, so you may be able to plonk the ball down somewhere in the rough vicinity of where you want it (and even that's debatable) but to get it to drop into a cup exactly would be impossible, and if it doesn't drop into the cup exactly, then it will bounce off in a completely random way and could end up anywhere.

The Allwins with galleries across the top have deflecting pins between the cups, so they are no easier to play than multi-cup Allwins. Unless the ball lands exactly in the cup, it will hit a pin (or the edge of the cup) and bounce off in a completely random and unpredictable way. Then it will probably hit another pin, and so on. If there are no deflecting pins, winning cups are usually sandwiched in between losing cups, so you would still have to 'aim' the ball directly into a winning cup to win. The most infinitesimal variation will cause it to land in an adjacent cup.

The idea that you can shoot the ball straight into a cup without hitting any obstacles is ridiculous, and once you hit an obstacle, there is no predicting which way the ball will go. After that, it's down to pure chance.

I think Allwins were very cleverly designed to make us think that skillful play could beat the machine, but I still think that this is purely psychological and they are completely random. The fact that even collectors appear to believe this 'skill' fallacy just shows how powerful this psychological trick is. (In my opinion!)

Bent Copper
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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby Bent Copper » Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:40 am

Judge Scrutton wrote: Anyone arguing that allwins are purely games of chance presumably holds that all golfers and snooker players are also playing a game of chance....which I think is a load of balls (which they all are) :???:
I've never seen a snooker table or a golf course with spring-loaded pins in the middle to deflect the balls. When balls are thrown or pushed over a horizontal playing field it is quite a simple matter to predict roughly where they are going to end up. It's a function of direction and velocity. But even then it is not possible to predict exactly where the ball will end up because there are many unpredictable variables involved, so a small amount of luck is still involved in these games.

There's a big difference between these games and an Allwin, where the smallest variation in the trajectory of the ball will cause multiple random bounces and result in complete unpredictability.

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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby pennymachines » Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:18 pm

Ah yes - the springy pins!

They weren't so springy until Mr Bryan hit upon the idea of extending them into the back of the machine and embedding them in a metal block. This made possible the eleven win gallery. Until this, pins were shorter and just soldered onto a plate and the standard gallery was five wins with one lose at each end. There's much less bounce on these and if you keep dropping the ball near the middle you will certainly increase your odds. A degree of accurate ball control is possible provided the trigger mechanism is smooth. Although Saxony Reserve Ball allwins would alternate Win and Reserve holes, a gallery which alternates Win and Lose holes is quite rare - probably because players would sensibly avoid them.

On the Elevenses you have to contend with more dynamic pins but you also have a much wider target. Again, the nearer you get the ball to the center, the less chance it will be deflected off the end of the gallery. Sometimes you're unlucky and the first pin sends the ball ricocheting straight off, but more often it will jump from pin to pin, losing momentum with each bounce. For this reason, it helps to keep the shot short (one cycle around the runner) so the ball has little momentum when it hits the gallery.

I once owned a Bryans Three-Ball-Seven-Win which uses the same pins as the Elevenses. I found it quite challenging to win at first, but after a few weeks could empty the cash reserves. After checking the pin comb hadn't come loose I decided the skill element was just too great and swapped it for a Forks. This is much more a game of chance (and not as satisfying to play) because it has pins but no gallery.

In his efforts to supply genuine amusement machines, Mr Bryan strove to incorporate as much skill as possible. So much so that he sometimes overstepped the line - the Windmill, Rockets and by some accounts the Bumper quickly went out of production when it was found that players were getting the better of them.

I think allwins like the Bryans Pilwin, Gapwin and U-Win which offer a large target undefended by pins clearly allow a skilful player to improve their chances of losing less than an unskilled player. Of course, the percentage return on any particular machine will also be affected by the operator variable settings and I've noticed that even apparently identical machines with identical settings can play quite differently.

I believe the Payramid does exactly what you claim of the allwin - i.e. creates the illusion of skill. I doubt that a dexterous and practised player will fare any better than a novice, but human psychology ensures that when you catch a ball, you put it down to skill and when you miss, you blame bad luck. Strictly though, there must be a degree of skill because a player can improve the odds by moving the catching fingers away from either side of the pin-field. It's apparent from the rub marks on the fabric behind the pins that the balls favour a trajectory down the middle.

Unfortunately the skill versus luck question can never be settled - even if one player does consistently better than another this can always be put down to luck, although in 1912, in the case of the Pickwick, Judge Scrutton was convinced. Nor would it help to ask the players, but it would be interesting to see what proportion think they can influence the game. Let's run a Skill v Luck Poll

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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby Bent Copper » Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:14 am

I think this depends on the type of Allwin to some degree, obviously there will always be exceptions to every rule, we can only speak generally. Some Allwins are easier to win at than others, but this still doesn't mean that there is any skill involved. It just means that there is a greater probability of the ball landing in a cup due to the design of the playfield. You are right when you say that if a player keeps winning he will put it down to his own skill, and I think that's a very crucial point. It's more than likely that a novice player would win exactly the same amount, but we are not generally aware of other peoples' success rates, so we naturally assume that all our successes are down to our own skill.

I think the poll will probably have a bias towards Skill because that is what people would like to believe, and that is what they are supposed to believe. It probably tells us as much about human psychology as it does about Allwins! It's very interesting to see what people think though.

Another point is this: If I 'aim' at a certain cup and the ball misses the cup, bounces around off 5 pins and then lands in another winning cup at the opposite end, is that down to my skill? No of course it's not, it was just a fluke that it landed in a winning cup. It was just pure chance. Any 'skill' that I used had nothing to do with it, although I might like to think that it did. So I would argue that in any 'skill' test, not all wins can be counted. You should only really count the number of times that the ball goes in the cup that you were 'aiming' for. You shouldn't count the times that you missed, but you just ended up lucky.

Some Allwins present an easier target to aim for than others (Elevenses, U-Win, etc) so is it easier to use skill in those games? In my view, those Allwins may increase the mathematical probability of the ball hitting the target, but it is still a fixed probability that applies to everybody; and no more skill is involved than in any other type of Allwin.

What is certain is that this is a very complex subject, and the Allwin is a game which is brilliantly designed to play on human psychology in far more ways than we realise. How much more philosophical than passively watching 3 reels going round!

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john t peterson
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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby john t peterson » Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:04 pm

I would like to start by complimenting the Copper for bringing a level of analysis not normally found in discussions about coin-op. Please allow me to bring my own ignorance to the table. I think that allwin play is a combination of both luck and skill. I agree that precise skill, such as targeting and hitting a specific gallery hole or cup, is not attainable. On the other hand, it is not necessary for a win. I like to think that my skill level is sufficient if I can avoid hitting the right wing on a gallery game and having my ball fall into the right "lose" hole. Bent Copper is correct when he says that these games are playing to our psyche at multiple levels. Their longevity attests to that. Gambling on any machine is proof of the triumph of optimism over experience. Most would agree that allwins have some degree of skill, however small, when compared to the pre-programmed payouts of slot machines. Yet, take a look at the US Ebay category for slots. There are hundreds of offers to sell a secret system on how to "beat" the slots. This tells us nothing about the machines and everything about the humans.

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JC
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Allwin skill: more luck than judgement?

Postby JC » Sun Dec 24, 2006 2:21 am

I've been following this thread with interest. I should state at the outset that I've voted SKILL in the poll; not because I believe an allwin to be a game of skill, but rather that it is not, in my view, a game of pure chance. Bent Copper states initially that he believes an allwin to be just as much a game of pure chance as a one-armed bandit. This is not so. Consider the action of the player on a one-armed bandit. He is required to set the reels in motion only, from the point the reels start to spin he has no influence on the outcome of the game. As we all know, the position at which the reels come to rest is entirely random. Now consider a game on an allwin. The player clearly has influence on the game; whether or not he has control over the outcome is another matter; but he does have influence.

It is important to consider how an allwin works fundamentally, and that it is a game of constants and variables. Actually, there is only one variable, but I'll come to that later. So what are the constants? Well, for any individual machine, for each game, they are as follows: the ball is always the same size and density; the track length and radius around which it travels does not alter; the cups are always in the same position; deflecting pins (where applicable) are always in the same position; and the tension of the hammer spring does not alter in relation to the position to which the trigger is depressed (except for Bryans).
So what is the variable? This, of course, is the force with which the ball is propelled around the track. Now, here's the important bit! Sir Isaac Newton determined that 'for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction' (for those of you who have not already fallen asleep, this is Newton's third law of motion). So the velocity with which the ball spins around the track is directly proportional to the force with which it is struck. Once the ball is in motion, it is acted upon by two forces: centrifugal force and gravity. It is centrifugal force that keeps the ball travelling around the track, and it is gravity which eventually brings it to a halt. These two forces are also constant.

So, theoretically, if the ball is struck with the same force for every game, the outcome will always be the same - exactly the same. But as we all know, if we play an allwin, say ten times, always depressing the trigger as far as it will go, right down to the thumb stop before releasing it, the outcome is not always the same; in fact, almost certainly won't be. So why? Clearly, the 'skill' (for want of a better word) is in releasing the trigger, and I believe it is conceivable that some players have sufficient 'feel' to be able to release the trigger with fairly consistent precision to effect a reasonably constant outcome.

So is an allwin a game of skill? Generally no. But I think for some players, practice will improve their chances, and by definition - that is skill!

:play:

Bent Copper
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Re: Allwin Skill

Postby Bent Copper » Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:05 pm

I didn't fall asleep during your explanation, I was most absorbed! But you forgot another important variable: Friction. Friction between the ball and the track; friction between the ball and the backflash; and friction in the hammer mechanism and spring. This is something which no amount of skill can control. You might think that small changes in the amount of friction would be insignificant, but this is not so. A minute change in the speed of the ball at the start of its travel will make a big difference to where the ball lands and whether it hits the cup or bounces off.

Another important variable is play and end float in the hammer shaft. This will cause the hammer to strike the ball at a slightly different position each time. This can be very significant indeed because unless the mechanism is in absolute perfect alignment (a practical impossibility) the ball will tend to wobble from side-to-side along the track, causing unpredictable frictional effects and also unpredictable amounts of spin on the ball. In fact the ball probably reverses its direction of spin many times as it travels along the track, first hitting one edge of the track then hitting the other. There is no way we can control these effects, and I think they outweigh any skill that we might be using. The fact that you can depress the hammer to the thumbstop every time and the ball will always take a different trajectory rather proves my point. How can there be any skill involved in such a system?

People have said that there's a small amount of skill involved and a large amount of luck. I would agree with that, but I think there comes a point that if the amount of luck far outweighs the amount of skill involved, then it ceases to be a game of skill at all. Exactly where that point lies is open to argument, but if a game was (say) 1% skill and 99% luck, I would not call that a game of skill. I would call it a game of chance, even though strictly speaking you get to influence the outcome of 1 game in 100. In my opinion, the random elements of an Allwin are sufficiently large to totally overwhelm any skill involved.


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