SLOT MACHINE STRATEGIES (THAT DON’T WORK)

Slot machines are simply put the most popular gambling game in the world. They are easy to play, they are fun and entertaining, and the prizes are potentially very high. Most of any given casino’s revenue comes purely from slot machines. It is no wonder, then, that slot machines are often the flagship games offered in casinos. They are the most visible games when walking into a brick and mortar casino and they are the most populous offerings in online casinos. Simply put, casinos and casino players alike tend to adore the venerable slot machine.

The draw, of course, is the fact that slot machines entice players with massive prizes. And they keep players coming by being very loose with small wins. Just enough to keep players playing. The casino’s edge on slots is understandably quite low, with most machines paying back 99% of what they take in, and some machines set to pay out more over their lifetime than they take in with payback rates of 101% or more. When looked at collectively all these slot machines average out to approximately one half of one percent house advantage for the bonus, which is amazing in more than one way. They manage to both keep players happy, and at the same time fund the entire casino’s operation due to sheer volume. This is an amazing feat of mathematical magic that makes everyone happy.

For a game this popular, it is clear that aficionados will try anything to get them closer to the big win. This means formulating winning strategies. Take heed: there are many strategies out there, but only one strategy that actually works. We shall take a look at all the losing strategies first.

Bet sizing (one example of which is the extremely popular Kelly criterion) is the most common strategy employed by slot machine players. Because bet sizing is so commonly used and so popular, many people will continue to use it, believing its popularity validates it. On paper, bet sizing sounds great, but it is designed for continuously changing markets. Slot machines offer a static set of odds, which makes bets built around bet sizing pointless. Each individual pull of the arm yields the same odds as the previous one. Thus each bet does not bring one closer to an outcome, but rather is a self contained event on its own.

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Another strategy to avoid is the pointless lookout for machines that pay out better than others. If a pattern appears to be discernible, do not be fooled, it is a result of random chance. There are loose machines, as I mentioned before, but these are not mystery machines. In fact, at online casinos they are often used as a promotional tool. For a limited time, certain slots will be set to pay out above the 100% threshold. Playing at these machines is not a strategy, it is simply paying attention to and responding to a promotion. The idea that some machines secretly pay out more than others is a fallacy and a waste of time.

A related waste of time is a strategy called play charting. Unfortunately, this one is based on a poor math education and you can blame the school systems for it. The idea behind this losing strategy is that if one pays attention to wins and losses, a pattern can be sussed out that will inform one of when the next win will occur. Clearly if one can know when a win is about to occur, then it is a simple matter to play minimum bets on the losing pulls in preparation for a maximum bet on the winning pull. This does not work because, unfortunately, there are no patterns to slot machines. Not even the casino owners have the slightest clue as to when a machine will pay out.

There is only one strategy that works and here it is: Set a maximum daily budget and play the maximum bets on every pull until you either win or blow your budget. Chances are that you will last a while playing this way, because when you make the maximum bet you activate the maximum number of paylines, which exponentially multiply your chances of scoring a win. Big jackpots can also only be won by placing a maximum wager. There is little more at work than that. Winning at pokies or slots at online casino sites is a matter of pure chance. Either you’re at the right place at the right time or you are not.