The Professionals

Any financial 'sting' requires an initial working capital. To date, most professional players get to know a machine by spending anything up to £250 playing them regularly and memorizing the answers. Simon, a player I met in Brighton (average earnings £400 a week, by no means full-time), wires himself up with a microphone before playing a new machine. Standing in front of it with a couple of friends, he says the answers out aloud and transcribes the tape later. (This tacdc isn't to be recommended if you arc alone!)

However, there is an easier, more systematic way to commit the answers to memory. Every week, World's Fair Publications publish Coin Slot International, a widely read trade paper in the amusement industry. The last half a dozen pages are packed full of advertisements listing second-hand machines for sale, including swps.

The paper is litde known outside the trade, but it is essendal reading for aspiring players. Here is a small selection of some of the swps and prices listed in 1993:

Instead of spending £250 in pubs and clubs, it seems more sensible to buy a second-hand machine from a dealer, play it in the comfort of your own home (the money box can be easily removed) and memorize the answers at leisure. The questions themselves vary quite a lot, but the principles that I outlined in Chapter 7 on Trivial Pursuit still apply.

Step I: Choosing your Machine

Before buying a machine, spend a week going around as many pubs as you can in a chosen area. You will be surprised at how many pubs there are in Britian! (There are 186 in the Hastings area alone.) Find out which machine is the most popular. Freehouses and tenancies tend to hire the old games. Large, brewery-owned pubs are best avoided; they are supplied with the latest models and the landlords are more vigilant.

Once you have located approximately ten sites where the same machine (and edition) is installed, visit a few dealers, find an identical machine (and edition) and buy it. It might take a litde reconaissance to locate a sufficient number of machines, but it will be worth the effort. Simon plays three editions of his favourite machine in Brighton and three in Worthing.

Step 2: Memorizing the Answers

Once you have installed the machine at home, most of the work has been done. Multiple choice makes life much easier than learning Trivial Pursuit ques

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tions: if you can't remember the answer, at least you know that it's staring you in the face. There only has to be the faintest association for you to make the link. You should be able to memorize at least two questions a minute.

Remember: isolate a key word in the question and let it suggest a location. Then use an image suggested by the answer. It should be possible to memorize 5,000 questions in thirty-five hours. By my calculation, that's a slighdy less than the average working week. And I haven't taken into account the answers that you already know.

Step 3: The Loop

It is important to be subtle as you move around your circuit of chosen pubs (often referred to as a loop). Don't take everything you can out of the first machine; the landlord might not let you in again. (Professional players make life difficult for landlords, who are often on a profit-share agreement with the machine suppliers.)

Buy a drink before you play the machine and try to establish whether it has paid out recendy. If someone is playing it, watch how much time they are being given to answer the questions. (Generally speaking, the more time the player has, the more money there is in the machine.)

Once you start to win, make sure it pays out in one thunderous go, preferably when the music is loud and just before you are about to leave. If it is continuously throwing money at you, someone might get suspicious.

You should be able to win between £30 and £50 from each machine before it handicaps itself. Move on to the next pub and don't return for a while. If a machine is being emptied regularly, the landlord might decide to send it back. Milk them slowly!

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