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Slot Myths and Facts

18 April 2001

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?

Have you ever felt that you could go home happy if only a casino manager would push the jackpot button for you?

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, a little adjustment they could make, that would change their luck.

Those feelings have led to a mythology surrounding slot machines that rivals Mt. Olympus.

Let's bust a few myths:

MYTH: Slot machines that haven't hit in a while are "due."

FACT: Slot machines are never "due" to pay off. The combinations you see on the reels are determined by a 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 that 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, your chances of repeating on the next spin also remain 1 in 10,000.

Your chances of winning on future spins don't rise and fall with your past results. The odds remain the same.

MYTH: After a jackpot, machines must turn cold to make up the payout.

FACT: Players believe machines turn cold after jackpots. But the casinos are in this for the long haul, and they know the machines continue to pay at a normal rate after a big hit. Jackpots just blend into the background of millions of spins of the reels.

Let's say we're betting three coins at a time at a machine with a top jackpot of 10,000 coins, and that the machine is programmed to pay 95 percent in the long run. We hit the jackpot on our first pull. How low must the payback be over the next 999,999 spins to bring the overall percentage back to 95 percent for 1 million reel spins? Would you believe a drop to 94.7 percent would do it?

After a big jackpot, results remain random. There are cold streaks after jackpots, and there are hot streaks, too.

MYTH: More winning combinations hit when the player bets only one coin.

FACT: The random number generator doesn't know how many coins you've wagered. It's on a separate computer chip from the coin-counting program. The percentage of winning combinations will be 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 in a losing streak. That leaves fewer opportunities for someone to say, "Aha, I win more when I bet the max."

In the long run, everything -- winning combinations, losers, cold streaks, hot streaks -- shows up in the same proportions, regardless of how many coins you bet.

MYTH: Players win less when they use their slot club cards.

FACT: The random number generator doesn't know whether you're using a slot club card. Using the card makes no difference in your results.

Some players seem to think that since they are accumulating comps on their club cards, the casino will make them pay for it with a lower return on the machines. Such differential paybacks are illegal. Anyway, the casino goes to a lot of time and trouble to enroll you in the slot club and put you in the database so it can offer you incentives to keep you coming back. Is it likely to risk putting off slot club regulars, its most loyal, valuable customers, by skimping on returns at the slot? Not a chance.

MYTH: Casino operators can hit a "jackpot button" to reward loyal players.

FACT: Operators will do a lot of things for a loyal customer. They'll schmooze you, feed you, put you up for the night. They won't give you a jackpot.

There is no such thing as an operator-controlled jackpot button. Such a device would be illegal. Operators leave it to the random number generator to determine jackpot winners.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Casino Answer Book by John Grochowski
Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski