Right, so this is how we\’re going to all get rich mateys

Trivia titan Christian Drummond earns up to £60,000 a year – playing pub quiz machines.

The 40-year-old, from Brighton, Sussex, makes his living solely by playing the games in pubs, bars and nightclubs all over Britain.

Not that we know the answers well enough as yet.

So, who is going to hack into the database of the company that sets the questions then? It will undoubtedly be connected to the internet and thus hackable (the only entirely unhackable computer is the one that is not connected to anything).

Anyone?

25 comments on “Right, so this is how we\’re going to all get rich mateys

  1. Dammit, why don’t we have these machines in Australia. I’d clean up, I’m lethal at trivia contests.

  2. You don’t need to hack the database – play the game, write down the question and correct answers and create your own.

    Get several people to do this to distribute the cost and once your db of Q/A is large enough, sell subscriptions to others to bring in more money – or start a wiki to crowdsource the data gathering.

    Then hire someone to create a smartphone app that uses the camera to parse the screen’s text and pull up correct answers to the questions.

    Sell the app on the android and apple markets and watch the money roll in.

  3. I’ve always wanted to build a roulette predictor. They must be at least somewhat effective, they’ve been outlawed in several jurisdictions.

  4. I’m going to call bullshit on this story.

    First up, I knew someone who was very good at quizzing, and played quiz machines for money, but didn’t make much because the machines pay out on an average percentage. The best way to win is to watch other people lose and then play.

    Secondly, why would you want your face all over the papers if you’re a professional gambler?

  5. amazingly a friend of mine stumbled upon a routine that caused a fruit machine to pay out every spin. We managed to milk it for about a week before it was pulled. We never saw that machine again.

  6. First up, I knew someone who was very good at quizzing, and played quiz machines for money, but didn’t make much because the machines pay out on an average percentage.

    can this be true? Surely if you get the answers right, you win the money?

    I knew someone at university who, whilst he certainly didn’t make a living from it, would regularly get his night’s spending money for the college bar (c.£10, so not that much) by feeding a quid into the JCR quiz machine and winning a load. After a while whoever operated the machine figured out they were losing more than they should and changed it.

  7. can this be true? Surely if you get the answers right, you win the money?

    That assumes you get every single question right.

    So, what the machines do is that as the percentages get worse and worse, you get more questions and more obscure ones. The games would end up taking a very long time.

  8. @ Tim

    Fair enough, that makes sense.

    Moreover, it’s over a decade since I was at college (quiz machines were only just starting to come into pubs in the area then) so I’m quite prepared to believe they’re a lot more sophisticated now.

  9. “So, what the machines do is that as the percentages get worse and worse, you get more questions and more obscure ones. The games would end up taking a very long time.”

    This.

    I remember after winning a couple of times, on my third go getting questions like naming the Japanese education minister in 1992 (I’m not making that up).

  10. Not quite a story about a quiz machine but I was in the Amsterdam airport casino a while back and noticed that one of the roulette tables was coming up with 20, 21, 23 & 24 quite alot…I nudged my friend and we kept putting chips in the middle of those numbers and started racking up the wins. Several hundred pounds of profits later the casino decided to shut (it wasn’t due to shut for several hours) and my money making scheme stopped!

  11. I remember after winning a couple of times, on my third go getting questions like naming the Japanese education minister in 1992 (I’m not making that up).

    Presumably the fourth question would be what was the name of his third cousin once removed’s goldfish.

  12. Over the years, I’ve played the quiz machines with mates (*one* trusted person at a time) to pay for the night’s beer. The top pay out means that you have to travel to a couple of pubs before you find a machine that is ready to pay. If it is not ready to pay, you cannot win enough to pay for the next pint.

    You put a pound or two in and see what the odds are on a payout. If it looks like it might pay, you may even play a few stupid games to learn questions and to improve your own odds when you go for the big prize.

    I’m unconvinced by the Mail’s guidance about “aim to win small and often”. The game design is to take lots of small stakes and offer lots of smaller prizes. If the game is offering £5 as a prize, it has also reduced the challenge to win £10 or £20. To pay for beer, you need the bigger wins.

    Work out which games require the most smarts and play them. Avoid games that have added randomness or rapid button pushing. All of that stuff impairs your ability to answer straightforward questions.

    Learn wrong answers to questions rather than facts. Questions often have the wrong answer.

    From the Mail: “He has been evicted just once by an angry landlord in Harrow on the Hill and had two machines turned off by barmen to prevent him winning.”

    Only once? And has he never been confronted by the bloke who put in £20 before he milked the machine?

  13. When I worked in a Blackpool bingo parlour, a couple of colleagues had cardboard strips in their pockets which recorded the reel series for various one armed bandits. The theory was that, with the reel series, they would be able to work out the best nudges when the bandit was about to pay off. My colleagues were always broke.

  14. The only truly unhackable computer is one which is not only not connected to the internet, but also switched off. And encased in cement. And buried.

    And even then, it’s still only safe from people without access to a JCB.

  15. I also used to play the quiz machines with a couple of friends for drinking money at university. I’d say it worked about 70% of the time. The main problem was always finding a psychology or sociology student to answer the sports and soap opera questions.

  16. I remember after winning a couple of times, on my third go getting questions like naming the Japanese education minister in 1992 (I’m not making that up).

    That’s what used to annoy me about TV shows and pub quizzes masquerading as “General Knowledge” games. Usually, there would be several key questions which were not general knowledge at all, but specialist knowledge.

    As an exception, I always thought the “15 to 1″ game show questions did a very good job at ensuring questions, even hard ones, were still general knowledge. Ditto Trivial Pursuit board game, or at least the 1983 edition.

  17. “Then hire someone to create a smartphone app that uses the camera to parse the screen’s text and pull up correct answers to the questions.”

    I’ve done this, with a laptop and google. It doesn’t work.

    “I remember after winning a couple of times, on my third go getting questions like naming the Japanese education minister in 1992 (I’m not making that up)”.

    That’s why. The question databases are huge, and they can get very difficult very quickly. They also have lots of ungooglable questions, like “What is the length of a squash court plus the length of a tennis court?”. And they reduce the amount of time you have, so you are forced to guess. After a few questions where you have to guess, you lose.

  18. I remember they’d also have ‘what year was X born’ (where X was a very obscure celebrity) and give you consecutive years – 1956, 1957, 1958.

  19. @blindcyclists: “The only truly unhackable computer is one which is not only not connected to the internet, but also switched off. And encased in cement. And buried.”

    Such computers do exist and they provide one of the essentials of the internet: root authority certificates.

    They are rarely switched on and aren’t connected to any network. The authority to become a certificate issuer is determined by a security audit which requires that the device resides in an impenetrable bunker. I presume that the keyholders always go to work in separate buses.

    I did not learn this from playing a trivia game machine.

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