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ends June 30, 2001
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Thursday, August 9, 2001
and Facts about Slots
are lots of myths about slot machines. You should not believe everything you hear
about them. John Grochowski explains the myths and the facts about slot machines.
Have you ever felt you might win more at the slot machines by playing only
one coin at a time? Or by playing without a slot club card? Or by pulling the handle
instead of pushing the button?
You're not alone. Even slot players who understand how the machines work sometimes wonder
if maybe there's a little something they could do to change their luck. As a result, slots
have as many myths surrounding them as Mount Olympus, and these myths can cost you money.
Let's do some debunking.
MYTH: Slot machines that haven't hit in a while are "due."
FACT: Slot machines are never "due" to payoff.
The combinations you see on the reels are determined by a computer program called a random
number generator. It continuously spits out numbers that correspond to reel combinations,
and it is as close to random as humans can program a computer to be.
What this means is that previous results have no effect on your next spin. If a machine is
programmed so that the top jackpot will hit an average of once
per 10,000 spins, and you've gone 9,999 spins without hitting it, your chances of hitting
the jackpot on the next spin are still 1 in 10,000. If you've just hit the jackpot on a
machine, your chances of repeating on the next spin are also 1 in 10,000. Read it again:
Previous results have no effect on your next spin.
MYTH: After a jackpot, machines turn "cold" to make up for the
FACT: This one is so widely believed that slot supervisors often ask
winners to play another spin after a hand-paid jackpot so the game won't be left vacant by
superstitious players afraid to play with a previous jackpot still on the reels. But the
casinos know the machines continue to pay at a normal rate after a big hit. Jackpots
eventually blend into the background of millions of spins of the reels.
Let's say you're betting three coins at a time on a machine with a top
jackpot of 10,000 coins, and that the machine is programmed to pay 95 percent in the long
run. Let's say you hit the jackpot on your first pull. How low must the payback be
over the next 999,999 spins to bring the overall percentage back to 95 percent in the
course of a million reel spins? Would you believe a drop to 94.7 percent would do it? It's
the truth, but it will not always happen exactly that way, because after a big jackpot,
results remain random.
MYTH: More winning combinations hit when the player bets only one coin.
FACT: The random number generator is on a separate computer chip from the
coin-counting program. The percentage of winning combinations is always the same,
regardless of how many coins you wager.
There's a little selective memory at work here. Many players have experienced cold streaks
betting maximum coins, then switched to one coin and hit a winner or two. "Aha,"
they say". I win more when I bet one coin." But players who start by betting one
coin usually don't start betting more to stop a losing streak. That leaves fewer
opportunities for someone to say, "Aha! I win more when I bet the max."
The fact remains that in the long run, everything - winning combinations,
losers, cold streaks, hot streaks - shows up in the same proportions no matter
how many coins you bet.
MYTH: Players win less when they use their slot club cards.
FACT: Using a card makes no difference in your.results. Some players seem
to think that since they accumulate comps when they play with their club cards, the casino
will make them pay for it with a lower return on the machines. First of all, such
differential paybacks would be illegal. Second, the casino takes a lot of time and trouble
to enroll you in the slot club and put you in the data base so they can offer you
incentives to keep you coming back.
Are they likely to risk putting off slot club regulars, their most loyal, valuable
customers, by skimping on returns at the machines? Not a chance.
MYTH: Casino personnel can hit a "Jackpot
button" to reward loyal players.
FACT: Casino employees will do a lot of things for a loyal customer.
They'll schmooze you, feed you, put you up for the night. But they won't give you a
jackpot - that would also be illegal. There is no such thing as a jackpot button.
Operators leave it to the random number generator to determine who wins and who loses.
MYTH: If someone hits a jackpot on a machine you've just left, you'd have
won if you'd just been patient.
FACT: The random number generator runs through dozens of numbers a
second, so for you to have the same results as the player who followed you, your timing
would have to be the same, down to the microsecond, so that you would pull the handle or
hit the button at the same instant he or she would. Just pausing to say hello to the
player next to you, to order a drink, or to scratch your ear allows enough time for the
random number generator to generate a few more random numbers
and changes the results.
MYTH: A player is more likely to hit a jackpot in a crowded casino.
FACT: More total jackpots are hit in crowded casinos because there are
more machines being played. But for an individual player, the chances of hitting the
jackpot remain the same as if the rest of the casino were empty. The crowds around
other machines do not change the odds on the game that you're playing.
MYTH: After a jackpot, a slot attendant opens the machine to flip a
switch and lower the payback percentage.
FACT: After a jackpot, a slot attendant may open the machine to check the
electronic record of what the random number generator says should have been on the reels.
If the electtonic record doesn't match what's actually on the reels, the spin can be
declared a malfunction and the casino can deny you the jackpot. In fact, in some
jurisdictions the casino is required by law to deny the jackpot if the record doesn't
match what's on the reels. That doesn't happen often, but it happens, so the machine must
be checked after each jackpot.
In most jurisdictions, a slot attendant can't lower the payback percentage with a simple
flip of a switch. In the most tightly regulated states, changes must be made by replacing
the chip that contains the random number generator. A gaming board official must observe
while evidence tape is broken, the old chip is removed, and a new chip is installed and
sealed with new evidence tape. This allows no room for tampering.
MYTH: It's luckier to pull a slot handle than to push buttons.
FACT: On modern, computerized slots, pulling the handle and pushing the
button trip the same relay. Switching from handles to buttons makes no difference other
than to change the player's timing a little.
Does the timing switch make a difference? Well, if your timing is different the random
number generator does stop at a different point, yielding a different reel combination.
But there's no way to tell if the change in timing will help or hurt you. In the long run,
it makes no difference.
MYTH: A player is more likely to win with cold coins than with warm coins
just spit out of the hopper.
FACT: This is an old favorite myth that's dying out as fewer players drop
coins into slots. Some players used to think that because coins were warm when they
dropped out of the slot hopper into the tray, the machine would know they were coins the
player had won. The game, they believed, would be less likely to pay again on these
recycled coins. They hoped for better luck with fresh, cold coins from a change person.
But there is no heat sensor in the coin acceptors, so slot machines can't tell whether
you're playing with recycled coins or not.
The point is moot nowadays, when most players feed currency into a bill validator and
playoff credits instead of dropping coins into the slot for each spin. But as the old
myths fade away, new ones will surely arise, waiting to be debunked.
There are no myths about 47 Ways to Beat the Slots.
Click here to read more about it.
Another great piece of documentation on how to come out successul playing slots is: Slots - Playing for Playing Money. Click here
to find out.
all the best,
Until next week,
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