I’ll confess that I love slots. I every trip, I set aside a small budget to play the one armed bandits. I’m a member of a Facebook gambling group where most of the members play slots. Since the slots weekly contest, I’ve received some questions about slots.
Some of the stuff I’m told by seasoned slot players blows my mind. When it comes to slots, there are lots of myths and falsehoods that float among slot players. I had one person tell me that she specifically waits for a large concert or event at her local casino. After the concert, she observes the size of the gambling crowd and gauges whether or not the concert brought in more gamblers. If the concert or event brought in more gamblers, and, from her observation, she sees that not too many people are hitting jackpots, the next day she will then start playing in the area that had the heaviest play. Her theory is that these machines are now due to hit.
Ok, I’m not going to criticize this ‘system’. My reader was kind enough to share her system with me, and she was gracious enough to let me publish it here (as some of you who have written to me know, I always ask for permission before I divulge any part of our communications); however, I did warn her about her ‘system’.
The following are 10 absolutely correct facts about slots. If you hear or run into a myth of story that contradicts any of the 10 facts below, question what you hear.
FACT 1 Every Spin is Random
The result of every spin is not dependent upon prior spins. Every spin is an independent event and the EPROM – the chip that determines whether you win or lose – does not factor in whether you had won or lost in prior spins.
FACT 2 No Slot Machine is ‘Due’
Just because someone lost a ton on a slot, doesn’t mean it’s more likely to pay out (unless it’s a slot with a ‘must-hit’ jackpot and the prior person’s play brought the machine to the point where it ‘must hit’).
If someone has been losing on a machine, it does not mean that the machine will ‘balance itself out’ and give back some of the money it took. There is no evidence to support this hypothesis. Manufacturers have admitted that every spin is independent, so if you believe that a machine is due because someone has been losing on it, you may induce yourself into playing, when you would not have played otherwise.
Of course, if you were going to play anyways, that’s another story. Just have fun and don’t get in over your head.
FACT 3 If You Had Done Anything Differently, the Outcome Would Have Been Different
If you hit a big win at a less than maximum bet, congratulations and be happy!
Don’t worry about the fact that you didn’t bet more on your big win. If you had bet more or done anything differently, the split second delay, from the moment you sat down to when you got the eventual winning spin, means that you would have pushed the ‘spin’ button at a different time. The result would have most likely been different.
Every spin of a slot machine is nothing more than a random number generator in action. The graphics and sound is just window dressing. The moment you press the ‘spin’ button, an RNG is drawn at that exact moment. It’s usually a different result depending on when you press the button.
FACT 4 Higher Return Slot May Not Necessarily Be a Better Slot
Higher denomination slots may have a higher return percentage, but with a slot machine, it’s tough to figure out the hourly cost to play. Just because a slot has a higher return percentage doesn’t mean that it’s a better deal than a slot with a lower percentage. That’s because it comes down to the cost of hourly play. With a higher denomination slot, while the return may be higher, it may cost more per hour to play the machine.
I do not have access to the slot return percentage of various denominations in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. To gather my data, I conducted a search online across various gambling forums, gambling related websites, and governmental gaming agencies.
Based on the information I was able to gather, this is my extrapolation of average return percentages in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City…[Added September 4: a big thanks to John Koryto who provided this data set for Atlantic City. The data shows that my estimates is pretty close, but slightly on the high side]
- 85-92% return, with an average around 90%
- 88-94% return, with an average around 92%
- 90-98% return, with an average around 94%
If anyone disagrees with me, please let me know.
The problem seems to be that the higher return from higher denomination slots is not high enough to compensate for the extra money wagered. Going to the higher denomination may result in a larger hourly expected cost of playing the machine.
Another problem is that many players play for spins less than 50 cents to $1. Higher denomination slots may not allow you to play for less than what you want per spin.
My advice on what denomination you should play is that you should play at the denomination that makes you comfortable.
Just play at whatever level you feel comfortable playing.
FACT 5 ‘Must Hit’ Machines Can Be the Exception to the Facts in This List
Like anything in life, there are exceptions. Slots are sometimes beatable, especially if you run into ‘must hit jackpot’; but don’t quit your day job. There’s usually lots of competition at these machines when they become engorged and are prepared to spit out their baby.
Note that a ‘must-hit’ slot can still hit it’s jackpot before the must hit amount. Most of the time, that’s what happens.
I find that it is worthwhile to walk around and at least look at some of the ‘Must Hit’ machines and see if any of them are close.
FACT 6 There is No Way To Predict When a Slot Will Hit
There is a result of the fact that every spin is random and that no machine is ever due.
However, this fact has a few exceptions…
The first exception to this rule is that on a ‘must hit’ machine, if the next spin causes the machine to hit the must hit amount, then the machine will hit. That’s the singular exception. However, note that just prom a probability perspective, most out hit machines will have hit their jackpot before that singular spin arrives.
Another exception is if the player is able to figure out a weakness in the RNG, it may be possible to predict the outcome. Yes, it’s been done: Russian exploit a specific slot weakness.
A third exception is if someone messes with the slot machine. Here’s guy who was able to ‘predict’ when a machine would hit: Ronald Dale Harris.
Barring those examples above, you cannot predict when a machine will hit. Either enjoy the game and have fun or save your money.
FACT 7 Do Not Fall for the ‘This Machine is Hot’ Hustle
The slot attendant of the homeless guy does NOT know which machine is about to hit or is ‘hot’. They’re just trying to do a ‘soft’ scam on unsuspecting tourists and slot players to solicit tips. If they point out enough ‘hot’ machines, someone will hit a jackpot.
When I was playing in Las Vegas in the 90s, this scam seemed a lot more common. Nowadays, I haven’t run into it as much.
FACT 8 Slot Manufacturers Do Not Let Players Win
Slots manufacturers and casinos do not let payers wins at predictable intervals or at special times to attract other players. There is no evidence to back up this assertion. It’s all random when a machine hits.
FACT 9 Placement of Machines Do Not Matter
There’s no real evidence that placement of the machines matter. I’ve heard players say that casinos will place looser machines at the end of a row or in high trafficked areas as a form of advertisement or inducement, but I’ve have not been able to uncover any evidence to suggest that this is true.
FACT 10 Slot Players are the Lifeblood of a Casino
The vast majority of slot players do not adequately leverage the power of their worth to the casino.
Slot players are the lifeblood of a casino. In almost every gambling jurisdiction, slot players are a huge source of profit for the casinos.
Slot machines are great from the casino perspective of Human Resources: the slot machine doesn’t ever take time off for sickness or vacation, it doesn’t need a break, it can be available for 24 hours, and it never complains or says inappropriate things to customers.
On top of all those benefits to the casino, the casino advantage on a slot machine is huge compared to traditional table games; and not only is the house edge higher, but slots also play faster.
Every single slot player should be squeezing the casino for maximum comps. When I say ‘squeeze’, I don’t mean waiting for the casino to send mailers and promotions for a little bit of free play and complimentary rooms during the weekday. Slot players should demand a host and get a lot more free stuff than table games players.
In a future article, I’ll discuss how to extract maximum comps from the casino.