# How to Win at Slot Machines?

## How do slot machines work?

Whether they are physical reels or video slots, when a player presses the spin button, random numbers are picked from a certain range and are mapped to positions on the reel strips. One random number is selected for each reel and the game scores whatever the player gets and pays them accordingly. Each reel is independent, and the outcome is determined the moment the player hits the spin button.

## Does it matter if you push the spin button or pull the handle?

Absolutely not. Whether you pull the handle or press the button, the machine picks its random numbers at that moment, which determines your winnings.

## Is there such a thing as loose or tight slot machines?

Yes. The difference between a loose machine and a tight machine is determined by the prompt chip. The slot machine manager decides which chip to put in the machine. For example, one manager may set his slots at 92 percent, while another may set them at 90 percent. However, players are not going to know what chip is installed in a particular machine. You may hear players complain that a machine is cold, but the reason for their complaint is probably due to bad luck. It takes millions of spins for a slot machine to start approaching the theoretical percentage that it is supposed to pay. Therefore, in the short run, anything can happen, as with any form of gambling.

## Is there any way to tell if a casino has tight or loose slots?

Nine years ago, a survey was conducted of all of Las Vegas to test how loose their slot machines were. There are a few rules of thumb that can be given, but there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. One is that the nicer the casino, the tighter the slots. Rule number two is that the further away you get from the strip, the looser the slots are.

## Can someone in the back room just flip a switch to change the payback percentage on a slot machine while you are playing it?

No. This is a common myth. With most slot machines, if you want to change the theoretical return percentage, you have to get a key, open it up, change the chip, and do some paperwork. Here in Nevada, you would have to fax a form to the Gaming Control Board telling them that you made this change because they can do surprise inspections at any time to ensure that the returns of the machines are set to what you say they are. An exception to this is what is called server-based slot machines. These are not very common yet, but some casinos are using them now. With server-based slot machines, the return percentage can be changed from a distance by the slot manager at his desk. However, regulations are in place to prevent abuses of this. As I understand it, the machine cannot be changed unless it has not been played for at least four minutes.

## Is it a good idea to always bet maximum coins?

It depends on the game. If you’re playing a progressive game and you have to make a max coin bet to hit the progressive, you should bet maximum coins. If there is a big incentive to play max coins, for example, one coin jackpot pays \$1,000, two pays \$2,000, but three pays \$10,000, then you should bet three coins. However, if there is just a small incentive or no incentive at all to bet max coins, I would recommend not doing so. The way slot managers set their machines, the higher the denomination, the higher the return percentage. Therefore, if you want to get the best return out of a slot machine, I recommend playing the highest denomination you’re comfortable with and then the fewest coins possible.

## If you play a machine for 30 minutes and then leave, and someone else plays and hits a jackpot, would you have won if you had stayed?

No. It is a common myth that players will complain that after they left a machine, someone else came down and played it and stole their jackpot. Every single time you play a slot machine, the results are independent of anything that has happened in the past. The odds are absolutely the same on every single spin, much like craps or roulette.

## If a machine just hit a jackpot, is it a bad idea to continue to play that machine?

No. Another myth about slot machines is that once a machine has hit a jackpot, you should leave it alone because it’s going to take a while before it hits again. This is not true. Each spin is an independent event, and the odds of hitting the jackpot are always the same.
It is a common myth that a slot machine needs to be cold for a while to get back in balance. This is absolutely not true. The odds are the same every single time you play, regardless of whether the last five spins all hit jackpots. The probability of getting a jackpot on the very next spin is the same as the probability on the exact same looking machine next to it that hasn’t hit a jackpot in five years. The payback percentage on a machine does not change when someone uses their players club card. The return that a slot machine is set to pay is the same regardless of whether or not a player inserts their players club card. It is a common myth that putting in a players club card will cause the machine to pay less. This is absolutely not true and makes no difference whatsoever in terms of how much the machine is going to pay.

## Is a slot machine ever due to hit?

Absolutely not. The odds of hitting a jackpot are the same every single spin and are independent of the past. There is a common myth that the machines pay in cycles and if it hasn’t hit for a while, then the odds are going to improve of hitting the jackpot. This is absolutely false.

My best advice for slot players is to switch to video poker. Slot machines are a lousy bet. You run a lot of money through the machines per hour, making it the most expensive form of gambling in the casino. If video poker interests you, I would highly recommend studying the game and looking for good pay tables. Doing a little bit of homework will help your money last much longer in video poker than in slot machines.

If you want to improve your odds in any casino game, I welcome you to visit my website, Wizard of Odds WJpeso. It will show you the correct strategy to play at least a hundred different casino games. Alternatively, you can buy my book, Gambling 102, which will teach you how to play the most common casino games.