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HOME > > Ask the Slot Expert: Rebutting an article about why slots are not random - Part 4

Ask the Slot Expert: Rebutting an article about why slots are not random - Part 4

15 March 2023

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Just when you thought it was safe to ga back in the water, here's another installment of my rebuttal to an article I found giving one author's opinions about why he thinks slots are not random.

The article has the following disclaimer near the top:

Please note that the article contains opinions only from what has been experienced from playing slots, both at land-based casinos and several different popular online casinos - all of which shall remain nameless.

Let me start with my own disclaimer: Unless I state otherwise, my comments refer to the RNG-based (Class III) slots that you find in Nevada, Atlantic City, Tunica, etc., and some tribal casinos. My comments do not necessarily apply to Class II machines in tribal casinos or video lottery terminals in racinos and casinos.

Have you ever been steadily winning by playing a certain amount, e.g., $1, so you decide to bet more to win more and increase your bet per spin to $2? What happens? The machine "instantly" stops paying and becomes deader than a Dodo bird! Strange, isn't it, considering slots are supposed to be so-called "random" (sarcasm).

Most slot machines, particularly three-reel, single-payline machines have hit frequencies well below 50%. That means that losing spins happen more frequently than winning spins and that losing streaks will tend to happen more frequently and be longer than winning streaks.

You've been cruising along at $1 hitting right and left and you decide that you want to own the casino, so you double your bet to take advantage of a machine in a generous mood.

It's more likely that your next spin will be a loser than a winner. Same for the second, third, ..., nth spin.

Turning cold is consistent with the author's non-random hypothesis. It's also consistent with random selection of outcomes (not sarcasm).

A common problem I've seen in arguments that use experiences to prove non-randomness is that they do only half the job. The experiences support the author's theory of how slots really work, but the authors never show how their experiences disprove random selection. They can't. Their experiences also support random selection.

I was once asked in an "anonymous" online casino survey, "If I felt like I received enough playing time for the amount of money fed to the slot machine!" Why ask something like that if it is beyond their control to "adjust the settings"? Was it because if a player were losing their money too quickly - resulting in a shorter machine play time - the machine would "compensate" by paying out more before the end of the playing time? This time of play adjustment would then allow casino patrons, both on and offline, to "feel" they had value for money due to the adjusted extension of playing time on the machine.

Let's disregard the fact that the survey was asked by an online casino and look at why a brick-and-mortar casino might ask the same question.

Playing time (time on device in casino management lingo) is most closely aligned with hit frequency. A good portion of my book, The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots, is about hit frequency and how it affects your playing experience.

Some people, those with large bankrolls, don't mind playing machines that don't pay often, but tend to pay big when they do. They don't mind feeding machines to see them through long, dry spells. They like to play machines with low hit frequencies.

The classic example of the low hit frequency machine is Blazing 7s. You're looking to hit those combinations of 7s. You could hit some cherry combos and an occasional bar combo, but they were few and far between. You needed to line up some 7s to leave ahead.

And the 7s hit frequently -- well, at least more frequently than the top-level jackpots on machines with higher hit frequencies. The designers of low hit frequency machines took away many of the hits on the low-paying combos to increase the frequency of the top-paying combos.

Contrast these machines with those of the Australian Invasion of 20+ years ago. Unlike the British Invasion of the 1960s, the Australian Invasion of circa 2000 was lead not by musical groups but by video slot machines.

When I first saw these machines, the Aussies on panel discussions were telling the operators in the audience that their players loved these machines. The machines could pay less than a push, so they had very high hit frequencies. The machines paid a little something very often and that kept players in what we used to call tray money. Players still lost their money, but they usually didn't lose it quickly. They tended to get a length of time on device commensurate with their bankroll. Players felt that they got value for their bankroll.

A land-based casino might ask the "Did I get enough playing time" question to see if their hit frequency mix on the slot floor matches what their players want. If most respondents are satisfied, then the casino has the right mix. If most aren't satisfied, then the casino will increase the number of high hit frequency machines as it refreshes the slot floor.

The casino might also ask this question to see if player behavior matches survey response. Players may say they're not satisfied with time on device, yet the low hit frequency machines in the casino get more play than the high hit frequency machines. To paraphrase Dr. House, "Players lie. Data doesn't."

This is why a casino might ask the question even though it is beyond its control to "adjust the settings."

Question: Why is your column printed in small letters? It takes a magnifying glass to read it. Please print it in larger print.

Answer: That's 100% my fault. Well, 99%. The tech team at Casino City is looking at changing the font size.

I caused all of the other problems with the display of my column with my wide Covid table. It forced the page to be wide enough to render the table and forced mobile/tablet users to scroll.

Many people have said they appreciate seeing the latest data aggregated into one place, so I'll continue posting it at the end of my column. I transposed the table and eliminated all but a few weeks of history to make the table narrower.

I'll create another page with the table in the original layout and with all of the history. I'll include a link to it in future columns.

I'll also go back to all of my old columns and replace the table with the link. That will solve the formatting problems. Please be patient with me. I have 150+ columns to edit.

As for font size, if it is still too small, you can increase the size of the font using your browser settings.

Click here for the latest Covid data.

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 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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