With many casino games it does not take much to tell how they operate – take roulette for example. With slots, things are somewhat different – telling what your winning chances are is not straightforward, which is why there are many misconceptions regarding slots. Here we endeavor to separate the facts from myths.
“Hot” and “cold” machines
When they have a long losing streak, gamblers refer to a slots machine as “cold”. Likewise, a “hot” machine is supposedly predisposed to give rather than take. When you observe a slots machine for a while, it indeed may appear that trends are developing, with winning streaks alternating with losing ones.
However, the cycles are just an illusion – the probability of winning or losing remains the same after every spin. It does not matter how the previous spin ended, or 10 or 1,000 previous spins. If a machine just served a winning combination, the probability of another one following is just the same as it is after any other spin.
The chances of winning
Each slots machine is configured to give back a certain percentage to the players. This may not be evident in the short run. As an experiment, try tossing a coin 10 times. The probability of getting heads is the same as the probability of getting tails, 50% each, but when you toss the coin only 10 times chances are you’ll get the distribution of 6-4 or 7-3 for one side of the coin. The percentage evens out over time, after many tosses.
Likewise, in the short run you may win or lose money playing slots machines; in the long run, the probabilities are always somewhat skewed in favor of the casino, otherwise they would not be able to stay in business.
The question is, exactly how big are your chances? This varies from place to place, and even from machine to machine within the same establishment. Here are some guidelines:
- New online casinos and small enterprises can ill-afford to lose because their funds are very limited, so they are generally more stingy with the returns to players than well-established places.
- Land-based casinos have big overheads – personnel, security, equipment, electricity and you name it, and to compensate for it the return they give to players can be as low as 87%.
- Online casinos have smaller overheads, but stiffer competition – after all, physical proximity is not an issue and another online casino is only a few clicks away. Top online casinos return 98% to the players, or even more. They rely on greater numbers of players and providing greater excitement because your chances of winning are considerably better compared to land-based casinos.
- Within the same online casino, different machines may give different percentages back to players. This difference tells more the longer you play. If you play regularly, it is a good idea to play with small bets at first and eliminate the games that return low percentages, and than increase your bets when playing games that return more.
When is the machine due for a jackpot?
We all have a deeply set sense of justice. After being on a losing streak for a while, you may feel that you are due for a win. Who knows, you might be – but when you win it will not be because of the cosmic justice, but because slots is a game of chance 🙂
You definitely CAN increase your winning chances by playing in a reputable and well-established online casino, and finding the games that return more (see best slots) – beyond that it is a matter of luck.
When are your chances of winning greater than chances of losing?
Contrary to popular belief, the house chances are not always greater than yours. For example card-counting in Blackjack is known to give a player an advantage over the casino – but this is offset by the fact that the vast majority of players are not card-counters and make plenty of mistakes, giving casinos healthy profits.
Likewise, online casinos frequently run promotions that can tip the scales in your favor when you add the welcome bonus, loyalty points, huge jackpots and other rewards together. You enjoy better odds for as long as the number of losers is slightly bigger than the number of winners.