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=========================================   Thursday, August 9, 2001

Myths and Facts about Slots

Hello everyone,

There 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 payout.

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.

Wishing you all the best,
Until next week,


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