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The Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Slots
by Frank Scoblete

Don’t believe the pundits who say that all slot machines are alike and playing any one is like playing every one. The pundits, as often happens, are dead wrong about this. Do believe that which machines you play and how you play them can make a difference in how much you win, or how little you lose, in the long run against the casinos.

The following seven do’s and seven don’ts of slot playing, if followed, should put you on the straight and narrow — which is the only road you want to travel when you gamble with real money in a real machine.

The 7 Don’ts of Slot Play
1. Don’t play giant linked progressives such as Megabucks® or Quartermania® unless you can afford to play full coin. Playing less than full coin is a waste of money, since the return percentages on giant progressives hover in the 80 – 85 percent range. The only reason to play a giant progressive is to win the jackpot and to win the jackpot you must play full coin.

2. Don’t play full coin on machines that are “equal distribution” or “straight multipliers.” If you look across the highest pay line and see something like this: 100 coins for one coin; 200 coins for two coins; 300 coins for three coins, you must realize that add-ing extra coins to that first one does not get you anything of value. You are playing three times as much to win three times as much when you play full coin — you get no benefit for those extra coins, so don’t play them.

3. Don’t play $5 or higher machines if you think they will win you more money in the long run. In fact, despite the fact that they are programmed somewhat looser than 25 cent and one dollar machines, the total amount of money you’ll play on these machines, if you play your normal speed, will mean greater losses for you. When it comes to slots, a smaller percentage of a greater amount of money usually equals greater losses than a larger percentage of a smaller amount of money.

4. Don’t think a machine is going to become hot because it’s been cold for a while, or cold if it’s been hot. The selection principle of the slot machine, the RNG (random number generator) does not follow whether the machine has been hot or cold. It just picks, at random, number series that dictate what will come up on the reels or screens. You have just as much of a chance for a cold streak continuing as you do for a hot streak starting and vice versa.

5. Don’t believe the myth that slot machines have “cycles” and that if you can figure out the cycles, you can break the machine. While in retrospect, you can plainly see strings of winning and losing cycles, these are the result of the random nature of the game, and not preprogrammed events. Just flip a coin for several thousand decisions and you’ll see all manner of cycles, but you won’t be able to predict what’s coming up based on what happened in the past. The same applies to slot cycles. The past in gambling and often in life is often no harbinger of the future.

6. Don’t believe anyone who is selling a surefire system to beat the slots in the long run. Many scammers will often attempt to convince the gullible that they have found some magic bullet that will allow play-ers to beat the machines over the long haul. Not so. In the long run a slot machine that is functioning properly will return to the players what it has been programmed to return — or just about.

7. Don’t believe that you will win more money by pulling the handle than by pressing the play but-ton. True, pulling the handle will allow you to slow down the number of decisions that you play, thereby decreasing your expected loss per hour, but the handle or play button has no effect on what symbols are going to appear on the reels.

The 7 Do’s of Slot Play
1. Do analyze what type of machine you most enjoy playing and then play that machine for maximum return. If you like the idea of winning huge sums, then play full coin in a giant progressive. If, how-ever, you want a chance to win small amounts every time you go to the casino, your best bet would be playing one coin in machines such as Wild Cherry® or Double Diamond.®

2. Do read the directions on the multi-line games (often known as the Australian games) as these games can be confusing. With such games every coin opens up new lines and/or symbols that can win. Judge what it is you want to win and then make sure you play the correct number of coins to win what you desire — if Lady Luck comes calling that is.

3. Do consider playing video poker. Some video poker machines, when played with the correct strategy, can be advantageous to the players. Many are very close games where the casino edge is in the fractions of a percent.

4. Do be aware that all machines tend to have hit frequencies that range from 15 to 40 percent. That means you will lose most of the decisions when you play. The decisions you do win will often be for more than even money. This volatility is what makes slot playing fun.

5. Do slow down your play. The faster you play, the better it is for the casino; the slower you play, the better it is for you.

6. Do consider moving your play up a notch. If you are a full-coin 25-cent player, consider going to a single one-dollar coin. It is no secret that the higher the denomination, the better the payback in most venues. However, as in #5 above, make sure when you move up in denomination to get the better returns, you slow down the pace of your play so that you aren’t putting more money through the machine.

7. Do join the slot clubs of as many casinos as you play in. With cashback, food and room comps, discounted shows, presents and prizes, a good slot player can get back in goods and services a signifi-cant percentage of what he expects to lose on the machines. In fact, some video poker players can actually be ahead at the end of a year when they figure in their comps.

If you follow these seven do’s and seven don’ts for slot play, you will be giving yourself the best possible chance to break those one armed bandits.

This story was first published in the October - November 2002 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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