Anyone who has spent a bit of time on the slot floor of a casino has heard someone say, “This machine is due to hit.” Such an opinion is based upon a belief that a jackpot must be paid out at least once every certain number of spins. The only problem is that the machine doesn’t know that.
Today’s slots are run by computer programs that use a “random number generator” (RNG) to determine what symbols appear on the payline(s). Only a specific sequence of these numbers will result in a jackpot. The likelihood of such an occurrence never varies from one spin to the next, because each spin is treated as an independent event. When a jackpot will occur is completely unpredictable—only a statistical probability over the course of many, many spins.
Knowing the difference between slot myths and slots realities can help a player avoid chasing after riches that aren’t there or expecting payouts that never occur. Here are some others to be aware of.
“That Was My Jackpot!” – This is often heard when someone hits a jackpot just after sitting down to play. The previous player will claim, “I set it up. I got the machine ready. If I had played a few more spins, it would have been mine.” Again, the RNG does not have any memory of past events. It doesn’t know who was playing or for how long. In fact, if the original player had “played a few more spins,” there is no reason to believe the jackpot was destined to come up. The sequence required for the winning combination must occur at the exact instant the start button is pressed. In order to get the same result, the button would have to be pushed at the same millisecond that the winning player did so. The odds against this are astronomical. No jackpot is predetermined.
“That Machine Is Played Out.” – This is the flip side of believing a jackpot is due to come up. An overwhelming number of players truly believe that once a jackpot has hit, the machine has been “used up” or “played out” and it will be a long time before another jackpot appears. It is pure humbug, of course, and no more true than saying a roulette wheel can’t come up Zero twice or even three times in a row. The probability of a jackpot is the same on every single spin. Period.
“The Lever Creates Winners.” – Many players think that pulling a slot’s lever is somehow more likely to produce a winning combination than pressing the start button, but there is no science to support this belief. The RNG makes no distinction between the different sources of the “play” signal. Nor does it make any difference how hard, fast, soft, or slowly the button is pushed or the handle is pulled. It simply has no influence over the outcome.
“They Tightened This Machine.” – Although it is true that machines are preset to payout at a certain rate, which is actually mandated by law, there is no button, dial, switch, or toggle that a casino can easily use to readjust the payout ratios preset at the factory. Even slot techs cannot simply open up a machine and change the settings. When a “loose” machine suddenly becomes “tight,” it is most often a matter of equilibrium. A long series of wins is being balanced by a series of losses. In fact, far from being a conspiracy by casino staff, it is a statistically foreseeable event.
“I Have a Lucky….” – Nobody will deny that luck is a factor in winning at slot machines. Some players seem to have a greater share of it than others. But influencing luck is another matter altogether. Whenever someone claims to turn a cold machine into a hot one by “warming the coins” before they are placed in the slot or any other tale of “creating luck,” treat it as the superstition that it is, akin to carrying a rabbit’s foot. The only certain way to win more is to spin more, and even that approach applies to the long term, not the short.