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# Ask the Slot Expert: Rebutting an article about why slots are not random - Part 3

1 March 2023

For the past two weeks I've been rebutting the statements I found in an article about why someone believes slot machines are not random. This week let's continue looking at some of the author's experiences that he says show non-randomness.

Many years ago Bob Dancer wrote an article in which he wrote that experience is a poor teacher in gambling. I'd generalize that to say that experience is a poor teacher for random events with thousands of possible outcomes. You can probably flip a coin or throw two dice enough times to get a good feel for how frequently each outcome occurs. But no one ever plays a slot or video poker machine enough times to get a good estimate of their long-term paybacks. You can't even use experience to determine which cards to hold in a video poker hand. Is any inquisitive NSU player who is dealt a hand with one deuce going to play the choice between 3-of-a-kind and a double-inside straight flush enough times to determine that giving up the sure thing is the proper play?

It often feels like some algorithm is at play, preventing a certain feature from happening too soon after starting a slot game and only happening once you've lost enough money to cover the feature's payout.

Just because someone feels like something is there, that doesn't mean it actually is there. Notice the qualifier "often." I guess that is there to discount the times that you sit down at a slot and hit a bonus shortly after starting to play. Moreover, I've rarely been down over \$1000 before hitting 4 deuces on NSU. (In fact, I was a few dollars ahead today!)

Let me build on may last thought. You can't hit a feature if you're ahead on a machine?

Have you ever missed out on a good winning combination because just one reel wasn't in the right position? Then lo-and-behold, on the next spin, the symbol you needed is right where you needed it to be on the previous spin! Random? No! Teaser? Yes!

Random? Yes! Teaser? Eh?

Reel-spinning slots are frequently regulated to limit the occurrences of near misses. The reel stops above and below jackpot symbols can't be weighted to appear on the payline more than, say, six times more often than the jackpot symbol they're surrounding. This regulation controls how frequently near-the-payline near misses can occur.

The example in the author's observation would be a next spin near miss. There's no way to control this type of near miss -- if it even is a near miss -- because each spin must be independent. When the symbol you needed for the jackpot or the card you needed for the royal appears on the next play, it's just a coincidence.

Have you also noticed that after a modest win or payout, assuming you keep playing the same slot machine, it almost seems the game NEEDS to win that payout back before giving you another, albeit smaller, payout?

You really can't be surprised when a machine with a hit frequency less than 50% tends to give you long streaks of losing spins and shorter streaks of winning spins. Larger payouts usually hit less frequently than smaller payouts, so it's also not surprising that the hit you get after a cold spell isn't as large as the one you hit before.

If a game needs to win back a big payout before giving another one, how is it possible that I've been able to hit three sets of deuces and cashed out tickets worth more than \$3000 more than once? How is it possible that I hit four deuces and then a royal 20 minutes later on a \$2 NSU bar-top machine at South Point? (That was a good day.)

In my experience, it seems quite obvious that slot machines have to have some computer-coded system at play to ensure you can't win over and over again - Which is why when you win big, it is always followed by a long cold losing streak.

In my experience, a big win is sometimes followed by a cold streak, sometimes by a choppy streak, and sometimes by some more big wins. See above. Big wins are not always followed by long, cold losing streaks.

Also, in my experience, any big wins I've had in the past have come when I've spent a small fortune on that particular slot - almost as if the slot is forced to bring you back in line with the payout figure percentage rules.

The machine doesn't care -- or even know -- who's playing it. The game program reports play data to the slot club subsystem, which stores it in the slot club database, which is able to calculate your win/loss. Data doesn't flow back to the game program.

Regulations require that the reels stop where the numbers generated by the RNG say they should stop. Regulations also require that the RNG have no outside influences. The RNG doesn't care or know about how much you've lost, or won.

The author may not have had big wins unless he was losing big on the machine., but it seems like most of the people who hit multi-million-dollar jackpots on slots played only \$20 to \$100 before they earned the big cardboard check.

Notice how I said "it seems." That means I didn't do any research to back the statement. It means I don't have any records to support my statement.

The author almost always qualifies his accusations with "it seems" or "I feel." He has no records to back him up.

I worked closely with an electrical engineer at one job I had. I saw his notebook when we were troubleshooting a problem with some equipment. I was amazed at all of the notes he took. Whenever something was changed, he made a note about describing what was changed and the result. He could see everything we tried and what effect it had on the system.

The author's conclusions about non-randomness are based on feelings and not hard data. He did not share any records to back his claims, so I assume he has none.

Feelings are subject to Selective Memory. Incidents that match our theories are remembered, while incidents that don't are forgotten. Feelings are also subject to Confirmation Bias. Incidents that match our theories strengthen our belief that the theories are correct, while incidents that don't match our theories do nothing to disprove the theories in our minds.

Finally, all of the author's experiences are consistent with randomly determined outcomes on a slot machine.

Here are the latest Covid data. There is a difference in the hospitalization data for US versus NV. The CDC reports total number of Covid hospital admissions. Nevada reports current hospitalizations, not total admissions.

All data comes from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-/-*tracker/#cases_totalcases, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#new-hospital-admissions), except for Nevada current hospitalizations (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/).

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
Totals Weekly Changes
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths  Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths
02/28/23   103,268,408   5,992,417   1,115,637   887,803   174   11,911   270,394   25,528   2,383   1,107   (16)   8
02/21/23   102,998,014   5,966,889   1,113,254   886,696   190   11,903   261,195   24,400   2,890   1,271   26   9
02/14/23   102,736,819   5,942,489   1,110,364   885,425   164   11,894   289,381   26,880   3,540   1,236   3   27
02/07/23   102,447,438   5,915,609   1,106,824   884,189   161   11,867   275,794   25,897   3,209   1,275   (87)   (8)
01/31/23   102,171,644   5,889,712   1,103,615   882,917   248   11,875   297,914   27,653   3,749   1,419   29   41
01/24/23   101,873,730   5,862,059   1,099,866   881,498   219   11,834   355,501   34,382   4,717   1,263   (73)   11
01/17/23   101,518,229   5,827,677   1,095,149   880,235   292   11,823   423,559   34,014   3,965   4,117   (18)   45
01/10/23   101,094,670   5,793,663   1,091,184   876,118   310   11,778   472,614   47,332   2,703   0   6   27
01/03/23   100,622,056   5,746,331   1,088,481   876,118   304   11,751   405,073   43,313   2,284   2,001   (23)   46
12/27/22   100,216,983   5,703,018   1,086,197   874,117   327   11,705   511,888   35,600   2,918   2,473   (18)   28
12/20/22   99,705,095   5,667,418   1,083,279   871,644   345   11,677   463,446   42,585   2,807   3,014   (14)   20
12/13/22   99,241,649   5,624,833   1,080,472   868,630   359   11,657   464,429   28,934   3,169   4,224   19   27
12/06/22   98,777,220   5,595,899   1,077,303   864,406   340   11,630   295,669   34,108   1,524   2,660   55   6
11/29/22   98,481,551   5,561,791   1,075,779   861,746   285   11,624   307,187   27,584   2,664   2,209   31   24
11/22/22   98,174,364   5,534,207   1,073,115   859,537   254   11,600   284,712   24,272   2,168   2,064   (2)   20
11/15/22   97,889,652   5,509,935   1,070,947   857,473   256   11,580   284,889   22,561   2,280   2,771   92   10
11/08/22   97,604,763   5,487,374   1,068,667   854,702   164   11,570   274,976   24,829   2,316   1,741   23   15
11/01/22   97,329,787   5,462,545   1,066,351   852,961   141   11,555   266,430   23,562   1,199   1,661   15   11
10/25/22   97,063,357   5,438,983   1,065,152   851,300   126   11,544   260,881   22,914   5,111   1,096   (12)   8
10/18/22   96,802,476   5,416,069   1,060,041   850,204   138   11,536   267,788   22,644   2,537   1,005   6   6
10/11/22   96,534,688   5,393,425   1,057,504   849,199   132   11,530   285,222   23,034   3,061   1,322   14   21
10/04/22   96,249,466   5,370,391   1,054,443   847,877   118   11,509   330,300   24,415   3,054   702   3   15
09/27/22   95,919,166   5,345,976   1,051,389   847,175   115   11,494   366,858   26,055   2,857   1,042   (28)   48
09/20/22   95,552,308   5,319,921   1,048,532   846,133   143   11,446   400,929   29,165   2,973   1,839   0   19
09/13/22   95,151,379   5,290,756   1,045,559   844,294   143   11,427   506,189   34,540   2,978   1,758   (40)   16
09/06/22   94,645,190   5,256,216   1,042,581   842,536   183   11,411   534,380   30,772   3,526   1,762   (8)   20
08/31/22   94,110,810   5,225,444   1,039,055   840,774   191   11,391   600,148   35,692   3,297   2,434   (44)   32
08/23/22   93,510,662   5,189,752   1,035,758   838,340   235   11,359   655,186   38,778   3,198   2,550   (51)   20
08/16/22   92,855,476   5,150,974   1,032,560   835,790   286   11,339   719,100   40,762   3,375   3,561   (92)   77
08/09/22   92,136,376   5,110,212   1,029,185   832,229   378   11,262   937,985   42,621   3,822   5,729   (69)   41
08/01/22   91,198,391   5,067,591   1,025,363   826,500   447   11,221   828,560   43,943   2,695   28,360   (5)   16
07/26/22   90,369,831   5,023,648   1,022,668   798,140   452   11,205   905,096   45,024   3,072   5,468   (61)   41
07/19/22   89,464,735   4,978,624   1,019,596   792,672   513   11,164   890,226   42,620   3,035   7,077   (20)   37
07/12/22   88,574,509   4,936,004   1,016,561   785,595   533   11,127   912,596   44,750   2,575   8,611   78   67
07/05/22   87,661,913   4,891,254   1,013,986   776,984   455   11,060   683,630   30,500   2,476   8,713   53   34
06/28/22   86,978,283   4,860,754   1,011,510   768,271   402   11,026   809,381   33,856   2,580   6,189   (8)   36
06/21/22   86,168,902   4,826,898   1,008,930   762,082   410   10,990   648,857   30,459   2,040   8,081   95   41
06/14/22   85,520,045   4,796,439   1,006,890   754,001   315   10,949   757,093   29,971   2,630   9,809   42   40
06/07/22   84,762,952   4,766,468   1,004,260   744,192   273   10,909   813,916   30,146   2,190   6,818   55   26
05/31/22   83,949,036   4,736,322   1,002,070   737,374   218   10,883   670,041   24,555   2,285   5,738   16   41
05/24/22   83,278,995   4,711,767   999,785   731,636   202   10,842   756,047   25,027   2,317   5,324   37   28
05/17/22   82,522,948   4,686,740   997,488   726,312   165   10,814   680,888   21,183   2,097   3,693   35   26
05/10/22   81,842,060   4,665,557   995,371   722,619   130   10,788   534,465   17,934   3,932   2,802   32   11
05/03/22   81,307,595   4,647,623   991,439   719,817   98   10,777   432,666   14,755   2,448   2,213   (6)   49
04/26/22   80,874,929   4,632,868   988,991   717,604   104   10,728   348,507   12,597   2,446   1,447   (22)   46
04/19/22   80,526,422   4,620,271   986,545   716,157   126   10,682   266,330   10,525   3,308   1,232   (37)   497
04/12/22   80,260,092   4,609,746   983,237   714,925   163   10,185   228,465   10,343   3,627   1,228   23   53
04/05/22   80,031,627   4,599,403   979,610   713,697   140   10,132   203,709   10,312   4,105   1,059   (52)   76
03/29/22   79,827,918   4,589,091   975,505   712,638   192   10,056   206,914   9,572   4,083   1,187   5   40
03/22/22   79,621,004   4,579,519   971,422   711,451   187   10,016   200,627   8,502   8,178   742   (71)   83
03/15/22   79,418,377   4,571,017   963,244   710,709   258   9,933   253,069   17,393   5,492   24,844   (20)   113
03/08/22   79,165,308   4,553,624   957,752   685,865   278   9,820   310,308   24,471   9,870   2,099   (101)   116
03/01/22   78,855,000   4,529,153   947,882   683,766   379   9,704   465,845   33,261   14,988   6,421   (189)   196
02/22/22   78,389,155   4,495,892   932,894   677,345   568   9,508   551,462   46,726   12,797   4,023   (297)   173
02/15/22   77,837,693   4,449,166   920,097   673,322   865   9,335   1,005,691   67,963   17,059   5,280   (375)   149
02/08/22   76,782,002   4,381,203   903,038   668,042   1,240   9,186   1,769,556   92,750   18,185   11,144   (387)   235
02/01/22   75,012,446   4,288,453   884,853   656,898   1,627   8,951   3,193,570   121,420   17,885   26,555   (344)   191
01/25/22   71,818,876   4,167,033   866,968   630,343   1,971   8,760   5,102,999   143,329   16,393   57,574   99   133
01/18/22   66,715,937   4,023,704   850,575   572,769   1,872   8,627   4,983,654   147,105   13,301   25,927   (1,787)   99
01/11/22   61,732,283   3,876,599   837,274   546,842   3,659   8,528   5,421,565   139,572   12,168   32,486   2,594   100
01/05/22   56,310,718   3,737,027   825,106   514,344   1,065   8,428   3,501,427   104,272   8,867   20,966   276   61
12/28/21   52,809,291   3,362,755   816,239   493,378   789   8,367   1,693,987   63,185   11,127   7,977   89   56
12/21   51,115,304   3,569,570   805,112   485,401   700   8,311   1,063,296   55,734   9,102   5,639   9   110
12/14   50,052,008   3,513,836   796,010   479,762   691   8,201   853,262   57,885   8,946   5,008   17   91
12/07   49,198,746   3,455,951   787,064   474,754   674   8,110   821,215   66,191   8,575   5,011   23   125
11/30   48,377,531   3,389,760   778,489   469,743   651   7,985   563,746   28,426   6,309   3,343   (50)   55
11/23   47,813,785   3,361,334   772,180   466,400   701   7,930   667,924   41,145   10,754   4,784   (24)   86
11/16   47,145,861   3,320,189   761,426   461,616   725   7,844   604,748   63,164   7,862   4,577   22   85
11/09   46,541,113   3,257,025   753,564   457,039   703   7,759   516,764   33,219   8,290   5,539   34   103
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots