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General Gambling Q & A List: Part III

Frank Scoblete 09:55 Feb 24th, 2006 Slots

In this series of articles, I have compiled a list of Gambling Q&A; I am asked whenever I give talks about casino gambling. My list of 8 questions is in no particular order of importance, but these are some of the most-asked questions.


1. Does it really matter which slot machines I play?

Actually, it matters very much which machines you play. The fact that a machine can’t be beaten doesn’t mean there aren’t better or worse machines to play and better or worse ways to play them.

2. Which machines should I play?

You have to judge your temperament. If you want to go for the big score such as Megabucks and you don’t mind bucking odds of around 50 million to one, then be my guest. You will lose almost every time you go to a casino when you exclusively play those progressives because they are holding from
10-15% of the money put in them.

3. Where are they?

Where would you put the best-paying machines in a casino if you owned the casino?
Of course, you would put them in areas that would encourage other slot players to continue playing or to play at a faster pace. You would not put them in areas where people would get annoyed with hearing slot players yelling and screaming -- like around the table game area. Those machines are usually tight because astute slot managers realize that table-game players aren’t interested in hearing coins being pumped into slots and these same managers know that if the table-game player is going to dump a few coins in a machine, he or she isn’t expecting to win. So why give a table-game player a loose machine? Why give him anything? Keep those few coins for yourself. Anyway, no one knows where every loose or tight machine is in every casino but as a general rule of thumb, the areas where slot players will be encouraged to play will be loose, and the areas where solitary players might put in a few coins before going here or there to do this or that will be tight.

4. What does hit frequency mean on a slot machine?

How many times the player receives some kind of payout from the machine. Most slot machines have hit frequencies around the 15 percent mark. That means about one in six spins will result in the player getting money back. Note that I said “player getting money back” as opposed to “winning money.”
It is theoretically possible to have a 100 percent hit frequency with a machine that takes all your money. Just program it to constantly return one or two coins on a three-coin bet or one to four coins on a five-coin bet. You would have a 100 percent hit frequency and lose every time. The change machine is a 100 percent hit frequency machine with no house edge.

5. Do slot machines have cycles?

No. When you hear casino personnel talk about cycles, what you are actually dealing with is the theoretical number of spins for all the possible combinations to come up based on the program involved. In the actual playing of the machines, everything is randomly selected based on the RNG -- the random number generator. There are streaks but these streaks are not predictable.