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# Some new slot machine myths

8 October 2012

Some slot machine myths have faded into obscurity because of technology and players getting used to technology.

Nobody worries about whether a machine will go cold if it senses hot coins fresh from the hopper, since hardly any games use coins anymore. And players have gotten used to rewards systems -- I don’t remember the last time I was asked if using your card brought lower paybacks on the games.

But some myths and misconceptions about the slots persist, decade in and decade out. Let’s look at a few that I’ve been asked more than once recently:

QUESTION: Do casinos set machines to pay more jackpots when there’s a big crowd, so lots of people can see?

ANSWER: Game programming is no different whether the crowds are sparse or the casino is packed. There are more jackpots paid in big crowds, but that’s just because more people are playing. For any individual player, the chances of hitting a jackpot are the same in a packed house as they are when nobody else is playing.

If you’re playing in a row of 10 machines and all 10 are occupied, you have a better chance of seeing someone hit the jackpot than if there are just one or two people playing. But the presence of others doesn’t increase your chances of hitting a jackpot on your machine.

QUESTION: After a jackpot, don’t slot machines have to go cold for a game to hit its programmed percentage?

ANSWER: Nope. The machine keeps paying the percentage determined by the normal odds of the game. Over time, big jackpots, hot streaks and cold streaks all will fade into statistical insignificance.

Programmers don’t tell a machine it has to pay out a certain percentage. They set the odds of the game so that repeated play will lead naturally to that percentage.

Let’s say you’re playing a slot machine where the odds of the game are programmed to lead to a 90% return. You bet \$1, and get extraordinarily lucky with a \$10,000 jackpot on your first play.

Does the machine have to go cold to make up that big payoff? No. If it pays its normal 90% over the next million plays, it will take in \$1 million and pay out \$900,000. Add in your \$10,000 jackpot, and it’s paid out \$910,000 in a million-and-one dollars worth of play. The overall payback percentage: 91%. Go another million spins down the road, and the overall return becomes 90.5%, and after another million it’s 90.3%.

The casino is in it for the long haul, and the operators know that big jackpots are just part of normal probability on any slot game. Losing spins are part of normal probability, too, with more losers than winners. With repeated play, the big wins, small wins, losses, hot streaks and cold streaks will lead to the payback percentage determined by the odds of the game.
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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.

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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.