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The Worst Slot Machine I’ve Ever Heard

| October 17, 2017 12:00 am PDT
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Slot machines lend themselves to some of the craziest advice in casinos. The reason is that we can’t physically see how results are determined.

This leads players to make up their own theories and hunches on the winning and losing streaks of slot machines.

Most of these theories are harmless myths that won’t affect your bankroll. But there are other pieces of slots advice that can cause you to lose money.

Keep reading as I cover 9 of the worst pieces of slots advice I’ve both heard and read.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #1

  • Playing the Same Slot Machine Increases Your Chances of Winning the Jackpot

Several fellow slots players have told me that you should play the same machine during a session. Their reasoning is twofold:

  • You have a better chance of winning a jackpot because the game will eventually pay out.
  • You don’t want to leave the machine and have somebody else “steal your jackpot.”

Both of these ideas tie into the logic that slot machines are due to pay jackpots eventually. And if you’re not on the machine at the right moment, then you’ll miss out.

This seems logical because every jackpot carries odds. For example, you might have 1 in 500,000 odds of winning a certain jackpot.

But this doesn’t mean that the machine will pay out at exactly 500,000 spins. It could deliver the jackpot after 200,000 spins, or it could come after 1 million rounds.

This means that you have the exact same chance of winning the jackpot on every spin. And if you want to go to the bathroom or quit a session, don’t worry about somebody stealing your jackpot.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #2

  • A Slots Club Card Lowers Your Chances of Winning

Luckily, it’s been years since I’ve had anyone tell me that slots club cards reduce your chances of winning. But I’m sure that some people still believe this bankroll-damaging myth.

Certain players think that machines are programmed to pay less when you use a slots club card. The reason is that casinos need to counteract what they’re giving away in rewards.

But this is in no way true. And you should never neglect to use your player’s card because of fears that the payback will be lower.

Slots comp rates aren’t high enough to counteract the house edge, anyway. Let’s look at an example of comps vs. theoretical losses:

  • A casino offers a 0.2% comp rate.
  • You’re playing a machine with a 7% house edge.
  • You play 1,000 spins during a session.
  • The average spin costs $1.
  • Your theoretical losses are $70(1,000 x 0.07).
  • Your comps are $2(1,000 x 0.002).

Casinos aren’t going to punish you for making $2 in comps on every 1,000 spins. This is especially the case when they’re out-earning you $70 to $2.

Moreover, casinos would be in trouble with state gaming regulators for lowering payback for slots club members.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #3

  • Don’t Play Slots During Busy Times Because They Pay Less

I was headed to the casino one weekend, and a friend told me not to go. I asked why, and they explained that weekends are the worst time to play because casinos turn slots payback down.

This seems logical because casinos stand to make more money by lowering payback on weekends. But this also assumes that casinos are allowed to change payback whenever they want.

Here are three things to know about casinos changing payback:

  • Casinos order payback when machines are being manufactured.
  • Changing payback for an individual machine is a time-consuming process.
  • State gaming regulators must be notified when payback is changed.

One of the greatest slots myths is that casinos are constantly flipping a universal switch that raises or lowers slots payback. But these three factors dispel this myth because casinos aren’t allowed to change payout percentages on whims.

The idea that casinos lower payback on the weekends and during holidays isn’t true.

The only downside to playing during the busier points is that you’ll have more trouble getting on certain machines. But this shouldn’t stop you from playing slots on weekends if you feel like it.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #4

  • Look for Machines on a Hot Streak

Slot machines run hot and cold all the time. And some players have told me that you can find the hot machines by jumping around and trying different games.

Here are the simple steps for how you accomplish this:

  • Play a slot machine for 10 spins or so.
  • If you don’t win anything, move on to the next game.
  • You repeat this until you win a couple of prizes or more.

This theory falls under the belief that slots are programmed to have hot and cold spells. And if you can take advantage of enough hot streaks, you’ll have a chance of earning profits.

The problem with this theory, though, is that slot machines are programmed to behave randomly on every spin.

Sure, you might win 3-4 payouts within a short span. But this is attributed to good luck, rather than some pre-programmed hot streak.

Slot machine results are determined by a random number generator (RNG), which cycles through thousands of number sequences every second. The RNG selects one of these many number sequences as soon as you select the Spin button.

The complete randomness of slots results ensures that a hot machine is nothing more than a lucky one. Jumping around from game to game to find hot slot machines is a waste of time.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #5

  • Only Play Slot Machines in Dark Corners

Noted gambling author Frank Scoblete discussed the theory of slot machine placement in his 1994 book Break the One-Armed Bandits.

The book contains Scoblete’s interview with a casino manager, who said that loose slots are placed in dark corners of casinos. In contrast, low-paying slot machines are put in the aisles and near the casino entrance where they’re more likely to get traffic.

This theory makes sense because casinos profit more from putting slots with low payback in populated areas. And some casinos may have been experimenting with slot machine placement at the time of Scoblete’s book release.

But casino managers no longer use slots payback to determine where machines should be placed today. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Casino managers are only worried about maximizing play with slot machine placement.
  • Casinos have too many machines today to worry about basing placement on payback.
  • The most popular themes are often placed in high traffic areas.

Most casinos offer higher payback because they don’t want players quickly losing their bankrolls. After all, this is discouraging and hurts repeat business.

Moreover, casinos wouldn’t want to strategically place tight machines in heavily trafficked areas. This would lead to passersby seeing a lot of unhappy faces.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #6

  • Slot Machines are All Luck – Just Sit Down and Play One

Somebody once asked me why I even care about slots strategy. They proceeded to tell me that the games are pure luck, and you should just sit down and choose any random machine.

They’re right in that slot machines do involve lots of luck. But you can influence your chances of winning by doing a couple of important things:

  • Sign up for the slots club.
  • Choose slot machines with high payback.

We covered the first point earlier in that you accumulate rewards by using your slots club card. And online casinos automatically track your rewards with no need to sign up for a slots club.

Regarding the second point, slot machines are programmed to pay different amounts over the long term.

One game could have a 97% payback, while another offers 88% payback. Obviously one of these machines gives you a better chance of winning.

Of course, there are other factors that you need to be concerned with besides payback, like the coin denomination.

Many land-based slot machines with higher payback also require a larger coin denomination. And some players may not feel comfortable betting $1 per turn.

But the overall point is that slots do feature strategy in the way of finding games with good payout percentages. Do your research before playing in land-based and online casinos so you can find games with the highest payback.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #7

  • 3 Reel Slot Machines Pay More Than 5 Reel Slots

An acquaintance once told me that they play 3 reel slots because they have a better payback than 5 reel games.

I asked them what their logic behind this claim was. And they said that 3 reelers have to pay more because it’s the only way that casinos can still get people to play them.

This thought may have some merit in terms of payout frequency. Many 3 reel slot machines have smaller top prizes and offer more even payout distribution.

5 reel slots, on the other hand, tend to have larger jackpots and more bonuses. This means that they feature lower payout frequency to make up for the bigger jackpot and special features.

But payout frequency and payback are two different things. You can’t blindly sit down to any 3 reel machine and expect it to offer a higher payout percentage.

Payback differs from game to game, regardless of whether you’re dealing with 3 reel or 5 reel slot machines. That being said, don’t choose 3 reel games just because you think they offer a better long-term chance of winning.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #8

  • You Can Only Win Jackpots If You Bet More

This advice has some truth to it in that many slot machines have qualifications on their jackpots. Here are some different ways that jackpots are awarded:

  • You must play every pay line.
  • The random jackpot can be awarded on any spin, regardless of your bet size or pay lines.
  • You must make a jackpot side bet.
  • The jackpot is awarded in a bonus round (normally spinning wheel).

Visit the help screen/pay table if you want to know how the jackpot is triggered in a specific game.

One common theme you’ll notice is that coin size rarely determines whether or not you can win the jackpot. It doesn’t matter if you bet $0.25 or $10.00 per coin on slots that let you adjust the coin denomination.

This means that you merely have to follow the rules of the game to qualify for the jackpot. Don’t blindly bet more money just because this is a common perception.

Worst Piece of Slot Machine Advice #9

  • Slots Are Rigged – Don’t Play

Many non-slots players have advised me not to play slot machines because “they’re rigged.” They often add that casinos have designed the games to make players lose.

These people are right in one regard because slot machines are programmed to give casinos an advantage. Every slot machine has a house edge in order to guarantee the casino profits.

A game with 95% payback is really good in land-based casinos. But this also means that a nickel out of every dollar wagered will go to the casino over the long run.

I suspect that anybody who tells me slot machines are rigged believes in something far more nefarious. Here are some of the common theories I’ve heard over the years:

  • Casinos can change payback at will (covered in point #3).
  • Slot machines are programmed to pay less when you’re winning.
  • Slots only pay jackpots when they’ve made a huge profit.
  • Slots only start paying you when they’ve taken enough of your money.

Again, all slot machines are designed to give the house an edge. But this information is usually available to the public and gaming authorities, so it’s not like casinos are trying to trick people.

Another point worth adding here is that slots payouts are totally random. These machines are not programmed to suddenly start paying less just because you’re winning.

Conclusion

Much of the worst slots advice that I’ve been given or read is based upon myths.

Luckily, many slots myths are beginning to disappear thanks to all of the online resources that are available today.

But I still receive bad slots advice, which shows that some people still follow myths and/or make up their own strategy.

The absolute worst advice is the idea that you’ll win less just because you’re using a rewards card. As explained before, you don’t need to worry about this because casinos already factor rewards into overall payback.

Another really bad piece of advice is the idea that you can only win the jackpot if you bet more. All you need to do is visit the game’s pay table to see what the exact jackpot qualifications are.

One more serious misbelief is the idea that slot machines are rigged. You can often find payout percentages for games, which helps clear up how much you can expect to win back.

In summary, slot machines aren’t as complicated as some people make them out to be. Just look for games with high payback and reasonable coin denominations, and you should be set.

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