Dispelling Slot Machine Myths

Zues from WMS Gaming

No other segment of the gaming industry has benefited more from the technology revolution than the slot machine. Once considered the ugly stepchild, placed on the gaming floor to appease the spouses of table players, the slot machine has been transformed into the Fairy Princess of the gaming world. With her she has brought a dowry of riches no one could have imagined to the casino and a few lucky players as well. Twenty years ago the slot machine accounted for 30 percent of the casinos profits. Today it accounts for over 70 percent. A hi-tech computer chip installed in the modern slot machines makes it possible for the games to offer life-changing jackpots big enough to turn a Pauper into a King.

This new technology also brings with it many myths and misconceptions as players try to unravel the mysteries of the modern computerized slot machine. Here are a few of the myths surrounding the slot machines that have been passed on from player to player over the years. Even though today most players are well informed about casino gambling, many of these myths still persist.

Someone hit a jackpot on the machine you just left; you would have gotten that jackpot if you kept playing.
False. Slot machines have a computer chip inside them that runs the Random Number Generator (RNG) which selects the winning or losing combinations of symbols. The RNG is continuously cycling through numbers even when the machine is not being played. These numbers correspond to the stops on the wheel that display the winning or losing symbols that you see when the reels stop. When you hit the spin button or pull the handle, the RNG picks the combination at that given instant. If you had stayed at the machine, it is highly unlikely that you would have stopped the RNG at the exact nano-second to display that same combination of numbers. In the time it takes to talk with a friend or sip your drink the RNG has cycled through thousands of combinations.

You can tell the odds of winning by counting the symbols on each wheel.
False. The RNG generates a set of numbers for each spin. The numbers corresponds to the symbols on the reel. Many numbers generated by the RNG can correspond to the same symbol. This is known as a virtual stop. There can be hundreds of virtual stops on each wheel even though there are only a few symbols on each reel. For example you may see 20 symbols on each reel of a three-reel machine. You figure 20 x 20 x 20 = 8,000 combinations and your chance of hitting the jackpot is 1 in 8000. In reality the computer chip may program 256 stops for each wheel which makes the odds 256 x 256 x 256 =16,777,216 combinations. Being able to generate millions of combinations is the reason why the new slots can offer such large Jackpots.

Casinos can loosen or tighten the slot machines with the flip of a switch.
False. The slot machines have a computer chip in them that determines the pay back percentage. These are preset at the factory. In order for a casino to change the pay back, they would have to change the chip. In most jurisdictions there is paper work that has to be filed and submitted to the Casino Control Commission for each machine if the chip is changed. It is time consuming and the chips are very expensive. For this reason, it is more economical to decide on the pay back percentages before purchasing the machines and having the factory ship them with the proper chip.

A machine that has not been paying is due to hit.
False. Many players have gone broke because they believe this myth. There is no way to determine if a machine is due to hit. Each spin is a random occurrence and has no bearing on what has happened previously. Don’t ever gamble more than you can afford to lose because you believe the machine is getting ready to pay out. It will be devastating to your bankroll if you do.

The slot machine can tell the difference between playing maximum and minimum.
False. The number of coins played has no effect on whether or not the winning symbols will line up. It only determines how much you will win or lose. Many players will vary the number of coins they play per spin because they believe there is a pattern that can make them winners. Some players will even cash out during their playing sessions so the machine will “Think” a new player has started playing. Slot machines are computers and there is no way they “know” when a new player starts playing. The RNG used to select winning combinations is not linked to the to the coin receptor so varying your coins or cashing out and starting again will not help you win.

After hitting a jackpot you should change machines because the machine will stop paying out.
False. The odds of hitting another jackpot on your next spin are the same as they were before you hit the jackpot. The payback percentages are programmed over the long run, anything can happen in the short run. Whether you chose to play the same machine or move on to another, you should make sure that you lock up some of your winnings to take home with you. Don’t be one of those players who lose back all of their winnings.

If you use your Player’s Club card the machine will pay back less.
False. This is a myth that can cost you money. There is no link between the card reader and the RNG. By not using you player’s card you are denying yourself valuable comps and sometimes even cash back from the casino. The player’s clubs were formed to reward players for their business and to give them a form of rebate on their losses. When you don’t join the players club and use your card you are essentially throwing away free money. I will discuss player’s club benefits in a future article.

Until next time, remember: “Luck comes and goes…Knowledge stays forever.”

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