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Slot Machine Myths

An amazing amount of misinformation can be found on the Internet. Some of it is published by people who just don’t know any better. Some of it is published by people who are just interested in making a quick buck off the suckers out there.

Your goal is to know better and not be a sucker. Playing slot machines can be a perfectly legitimate way of spending your time in a casino. It’s a lot of fun, and casinos are all about entertainment.

But thinking that you’re going to win because of some goofy slot machine myths you found on the Internet is going to lead to disappointment, not fun. Understanding how the games actually work is the first step in dispelling those myths and becoming an educated player.

Understand this one point clearly from the beginning, and you’ll be way ahead of most of the so-called slots experts on the Internet: slot machine results are random. Your chances of winning at a slot machine game are random, and there’s nothing you can do to affect the outcome on any specific game.

Here are some specific myths we’ve seen touted on the Internet, along with an explanation of why each one is misinformation.

1. Some times of day are better than others. This isn’t true. Casinos aren’t able to reprogram the payout percentages on the games that easily or that quickly. You’ll also find sites that claim that some days of the week are better than others, or that the payouts improve during convention dates, or on special occasions. In any case, it’s not true. Time of day, day of the week, and special events in town are all irrelevant to your chances of winning.

2. Pulling the lever is more likely to generate a win than pushing the spin button. This might slow down your play a little bit, but it won’t increase your chances of winning. It might decrease the average amount you lose per hour, but the effect is negligible. Suppose you’re playing 400 spins per hour by pressing the button, but by using the lever instead, you’ve reduced that to 350 spins per hour. If you’re playing a really loose dollar machine with a payback percentage of 97%, you can expect (mathematically) to lose $12 per hour by pushing the button, but you’ll only lose (on average, mathematically), $10.50 per hour by pulling the lever. That’s not because you’ve changed the odds of winning, though—it’s because you’ve made fewer bets per hour.

3. Playing with your slots club card decreases your chances of winning. The theory is that the casinos want you to win less in order to recoup the perks and rebates that you receive from playing with the slot machine club. The reality is that the amount of money returned is negligible, and the casinos don’t mind paying it. The other reality is that the slot machine software doesn’t have a means to change its random number generator program based on whether or not the card is inserted.

4. Casino employees can help you find the loose slots. One piece of advice that I always thought was amusing was that you should ask one of the low-level employees at a casino where the loose games are, and that you should offer a share of your winnings to them in return for the information. Cocktail waitresses and bartenders don’t have any better idea about where the games with the best odds of winning are located than anyone else. Even if they did, Vegas slot machines are a negative expectation game, so you couldn’t make a living acting on that information anyway.

5. You can’t improve your chances of winning. This sounds diametrically opposed to all of the advice we’ve given elsewhere on this page, but it’s not. You can choose which types of slots games to play, and some types of slot machine games offer better odds than others. For example, a game with a fixed jackpot almost always offers a better chance of winning than a game with a progressive jackpot. Games with higher denominations almost always offer better odds than other games. And games with lots of video bonuses and extras usually pay out less than straightforward, plain-vanilla games. That’s because the bonus games on the video slots take more time than a simple spin of the reels, which means that players put less money into action per hour. The casino makes up for that by setting the payback percentage lower on such machines.

Also, one simple way of improving your chances of winning is to avoid the games at the airport. Those always have the lowest payout percentages.

6. The temperature of the coins matters. Most people don’t use coins anymore anyway, but even if they did, do you honestly think that a warm coin is going to improve your chances of winning? By the same token, you don’t improve your chances of winning by using coins instead of bills or vice-versa, either. The idea is ludicrous.

7. The length of time since the last jackpot matters. Some people think that a machine gets hot or cold, but the reality is that each spin of the reels is an independent event. Slot machines don’t become due for a win when they haven’t paid out in a long while, and they also don’t become hot and start paying out more. Every spin is like a single coin toss or a single roll of the dice—the outcome is independent of all the outcomes prior to it.

8. The location of the slot machine in the casino matters. Many of the $47 ebooks you’ll find on the Internet that claim to teach you how to win at slots claim that the loosest machines are set on the aisles of the slot banks because they’ll attract more players that way. That might have been true at one time in certain casinos, but it’s certainly not true in today’s casino market.

Slot machines can be fun, but if you buy into the above myths, they can lead to a lot of heartbreak and disappointment, too. Don’t be a sucker.

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