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HOME > Gaming > Ask the Slot Expert: Slot machines hit on the last spin

Ask the Slot Expert: Slot machines hit on the last spin

16 July 2014

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Slot machines do hit on the last spin. And I hit most jackpots when I drop my bet from three quarters to one quarter. This is a fact. I've been gambling for 30 years and have seen this happen to me and other people too often. Please explain this fact.

Also if a machine paid randomly, the casino would be gambling. There's no random unless that machine makes money, that's just comom sense.

Sometimes I think you work for the casinos.

Let's start with your first assertion, slot machines hit on the last spin.

Have you ever heard the following quote from George Carlin?

It pisses me off when people say, "It's always in the last place you look." Of course it is. Why would you keep looking after you've found it?

Last spin is something completely under the player's control. The machine has no idea when you're going to stop playing. When your credit meter hits zero, the machine has no idea if you're completely tapped out or you have another bill you're willing to put into the machine. Even if you told the machine you were going to play only one more spin, it wouldn't hear you and hit as a favor to you.

The reason you hit on the last spin is solely because you stop playing after that spin. How many times have you been losing on a machine and then hit something and decided to stop playing before it takes more of your money. And how many times have you been doing well on a machine, hit a cold streak, and then quit after you got another hit?

The bottom line is that you determine which spin will be your last -- frequently after it has occurred -- so how can the machine know which spin will be your last?

Your next assertion if that you hit most jackpots when you drop your bet. How many spins do you play at three quarters and how many at one? If you play most of your spins at one quarter, you will hit most of your jackpots at that bet. (Years ago, a Las Vegas casino -- I think it was the Fiesta -- advertised itself as the royal flush capital of Las Vegas. It had more video poker machines than other casinos -- and high-paying ones at that -- and more video poker players, so of course more royal flushes were hit there.)

Next, you say that the results on the machines are not chosen at random. If they were chosen at random, the casino would be gambling.

Results on a slot machine most definitely are chosen at random and, in fact, the casino depends on the randomness of results to make money from the machine.

The programming in the slot machine chooses a result at random from all the results possible on the machine. It's not uncommon for a reel-spinning slot machine to have a pool of 32,768 possible results. Note that players cannot distinguish between most of them because they can't tell the difference between, say, the one single bar symbol on a reel and another.

If the machine is a three-coin quarter machine, the value of this pool is 32,768 x 0.75, or $24,576. Not all of the possible results are winning combinations, though. If we add up all the amounts we are paid from combinations that are winners, we might find that we're paid $22,118. Dividing $22,118 by $24,576 give us 0.899, or a long-term payback of 89.9%.

These calculations all require that the result of each spin is determined at random. If a player was somehow able to alter the result of a spin, like a slot mechanic (cheat) could in the days of the mechanical slot, he could change the house edge to a player advantage.

The takeaway here is that just because the results of spins are determined at random, that doesn't mean that the machine can't also have a predictable house edge. The only thing that is random is what result will be displayed next. What isn't random is the probability of landing any particular result.

Finally, I don't work for a casino or for a slot manufacturer or in any capacity in the gaming industry, with the exception of writing about slot and video poker machines. But if a company in the gaming industry is looking for an MS SQL developer, my e-mail address is just below.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

John Robison
John  Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming's leading publications. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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