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Against All Odds

8 April 2003

As reported by the Chicago Tribune: ``In Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, a 25-year-old software engineer pulled down the largest slot machine jackpot in history: $39,713,982.25, at the Excalibur Hotel-Casino. Almost $5 million more than the previous record-breaking slot win, the progressive jackpot hit after the gambler, who wishes to remain anonymous, plugged $100 into the machine. This was no one-hit wonder -- he lost a few times before he hit it big.

So, did he win because the machine owed him after consuming a hundred of his bucks? Were his odds better because he stuck with the one machine? The answer might be more complicated than you think. Here's how many people imagine the scenario: Jack plunks down a cup of quarters in front of a slot machine, loses 50 times in a row and quits in disgust.

As he stalks away, Jane spies his machine, drops a quarter in the slot, then laughs as she wins 100 coins.

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