There are theories abound when it comes to picking the best slot machine at the casino. The most common theories relate to brick-and-mortar casinos, but we’ll also talk about choosing slots at gambling sites. Let’s start with finding a slot at a traditional establishment.
Slot enthusiasts have come up with all kinds of strategies for finding the loosest or highest paying slot machines. The goal is to find machines that either pay out frequently or that are due to award a big jackpot soon.
Some of these theories include:
- Playing slot machines near busier parts of the casino
- Playing slot machines located in out-of-the-way places
- Playing slot machines after someone else left without hitting a significant payout
- Playing slot machines at certain times of day
I have some bad news. None of these theories has ever proven to be effective. One of the big problems is that casinos are not obligated to post the payout rates of their machines. There’s no way for you to walk into the casino and find a machine that is “looser” than all the others. It’s all a guessing game.
One of the most endearing myths is that slot machines become due to hit after a while. This is why some people will stalk the slots bank and wait until someone gives up without hitting a significant jackpot. Their reasoning is that the longer a machine goes without awarding a jackpot, the more likely it is to give up a big jackpot in the future.
This theory is based on an old myth called “gambler’s fallacy.” Gambler’s fallacy is the belief that certain outcomes become more likely after a string of misses. For example, it’s a common myth that if the roulette ball lands on black 5 times in a row, it’s just bound to land on red any time now.
The problem is that every spin of the slot reel (or spin of the roulette wheel) is an independent, random event. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Slot machines, roulette balls and decks of cards do not have memories. They don’t keep track of what happened in the past. Every new game is completely, 100% random.
Something to keep in mind is that modern slot machines aren’t powered by mechanical pulleys, levers and weights. Today’s slot machines are powered by random number generators (RNGs). Basically, these are computer algorithms that generate random numbers which are in turn used to produce a random outcome every time the reels are spun.
This kills the other theories such as putting in your coins in a certain manner, pulling the lever just right or hitting the “stop” button at just the right moment. It also means that when you see a near miss, you weren’t actually close to hitting the jackpot. The RNG determines the outcome instantly. Those near misses and reels that come to a gentle stop are just added effects for the sake of drama.
The only real form of selection you can use when playing slots is to choose between high paying jackpot machines and lower-paying games. Big jackpot games give you fewer small wins but offer the potential of a life-changing jackpot. The variance in these games is high and you’ll go home broke more often than not.
Slots with smaller jackpots tend to hit more frequently. You don’t have the allure of massive jackpots, but your odds of walking away a winner at the end of the night are better. There’s not nearly as much variance when you play these games.
Most of what I explained above can also be applied to online slot machines. Just like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, online slots are powered by RNGs. There are no special tricks you can use to alter the odds of hitting a winning jackpot. Online slots are 100% luck.
Online slots also give you the option between high jackpot games that hit less frequently and smaller jackpot games that hit more often. Progressive jackpot slot machines are notoriously hard to hit but when you do get lucky, it’s worth a ton of money.
Lower payout games give you a better experience in the short run as you watch your bankroll jump up and down over the course of an evening. In the end, both types of slots are about equal in terms of long term expected value. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
The best you can do is just pick a slot that’s fun to play. Even though all slots work in the same basic manner, they come in all different types and styles. You have traditional reel slots, video slots complete with storylines and even 3D slots like those found at Bovada.
It’s best to forget about getting an advantage when playing slots. Out of all the games in the casino, none of them is as much about pure chance as slot machines. Have fun, cross your fingers and remember to keep an eye on your bankroll.