Myths and Facts of Slot Machines

In every area of entertainment – art, films, sports, entertainment – a plethora of myths and legends have sprung over the years. This is especially true in areas such as gambling, where players are generally suspicious that the house (casino) will try and increase its already clear advantage.  Today we’ll take a look at some of the popular slot machine myths, and try and separate myth from reality…

Myth: Slots are programmed for a designated payoff cycle. Even though this cycle can contain thousands of spins, once it reaches its end, the outcomes will repeat themselves in the exact same order as the last cycle.
Fact: False. Each spin is completely random, independent from all previous spins.

Myth: Slot machines are programmed to pay off a particular percentage of bets. Thus, after a jackpot is hit, the machine will tighten up to get back in the balance. On the other hand, when the jackpot has not been hit for a long time, it is overdue and more likely to hit.

Fact: Each spin is independent for past spins.  Consequently, the odds are always the same – it makes no difference when the last jackpot occurred or how much the game paid out in the last hour, day or week.

Myth: Machines pay more if a player’s slot club card is not used

Fact: False. The mechanism determining the outcome of each play doesn’t consider whether a card is used or not. The odds are the same with or without one. Furthermore, by not using you player’s card you are denying yourself valuable comps and sometimes cash back from the casino.

Myth: Using a player card enables casinos to report any winnings to the IRS

Fact: If you’ve won over $1,200, the casino reports you no matter what. If you have a net losing year, the casino may have evidence of it, and such statements may be used as evidence to declare offsetting loses to jackpot wins.

Myth: Slot machines can be manipulated remotely by the casino’s slot department to tighten the slot. You better tip the staff well or else…

Fact: There is some truth to the stories that a machine’s odds can be changed remotely.  What’s known as “server-based slots” are still in an experimental phase and are and in a vast minority compared to the classic one-armed bandits roaming the casinos. However, regulations are enforced to protect the player from possible abuses, and in any case, once the player inserts credits into the machine, no change can be made. For the more “traditional” machines, someone would be required to physically open the slot up to make any change.

Myth: the machines closer to the doors, entrance/exits and overall heavy traffic areas tend to be more “loose” while those in quieter areas tend to be “tight.”

Fact: There is no correlation between slot placement and the machine’s payouts.

Myth: Slot machines are more inclined to be “looser” during slow hours on slow days of the week. On the other hand, when the casino is busy, management tightens up the machines.

Fact: Casinos try to strike a good balance between being profitable and having players that leave the games happy. If the slots are too tight, it’s less likely the player will return to this casino, so  management want the slot machines loose enough to give the player what’s called a long “time on device,” meaning that he spent enough time on the slot machine to warrant a future return to the same casino.

Myth: Some lucky SOB hit a jackpot on the machine you just left – you would have gotten that jackpot if you kept playing. #%&@!
Fact: Surprise – Not true! There’s a computer chip inside the slot machine that runs the Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG continuously cycles through numbers even when the machine is stands idle. 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 slot’s handle, the RNG picks the combination at that given microsecond. If you had stayed at the machine, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that you would have stopped the RNG at the exact nanosecond to display that same combination of numbers. In the time it takes for you to sip your drink, the RNG has cycled through thousands of combinations.

Myth: The temperature of the coins will affect the machine’s payout
Fact: Not true. The machine is not affected by temperature and does not need a sweater or bathing suit. It doesn’t matter if you play hot, cold, old or new coins (unless their chocolate coins, which no machine accepts). The coin slot is a mechanical device and is impervious to name-calling, pleading, hugs or swearing.

And – perhaps the most underrated slot machine myth of all…

Myth: There are tiny leprechauns working inside the machines. If they don’t like your face – you don’t win.

Fact: completely false…slots area totally mechanized (and today, mostly computerized). Also, there’s hardly any room inside for any leprechauns.