The power of patience when it comes to playing your favorite slots
By Frank Scoblete
I’ve always believed that slot players have more patience than table-game players because they can go through longer streaks with no wins whatsoever, whereas table-game players need some wins here and there to maintain their interest before ﬂying for a rest period or to another table or to their room for a much-needed nap.
If you look at most table games, there is far more of a back-and-forth between player and casino. Even if the casino is beating the player, the player does get wins. Such wins will generally keep them in the game even if overall they are down.
In blackjack, the casino will win about 48 percent of the hands, the player will win about 44 percent of the hands, and the other eight percent are pushes. You do see a real back and forth at this game. The additional wins on double-downs and splits and on a blackjack will keep the game relatively enjoyable for the players.
If a player plays the outside bets at roulette (called even-money bets), he or she will win an average of nine times and lose an average of 10 times. That is a pretty close contest and certainly one that goes back and forth. This can hold the interest of a roulette player.
Betting straight up on a roulette number is a long-shot bet in the back-and-forth world and can cause rather long losing streaks, even though the payout on such bets is 35-to-one. Straight-up betting on a single number is more like a slot machine than a normal win/loss table game.
A table-game player feels he or she is in the game if wins come almost as often as losses. Long losing streaks will tend to get such players irritated and often they will ﬂee for the hills (or at least to another table). Table-game players want that back-and-forth, as I said.
Long losing streaks—meaning no wins or hits whatsoever— are common in slots. That means one losing decision after another, sometimes for a long time. Slot players are used to this situation because many of their wins are for relatively large sums of money. A slot player can take a clobbering and then come back in a rush with one decision of the machine.
Yes, there are slot players who do not like this state of aﬀairs and these folks will choose multi-line machines that give them hits more often, although such hits are not always wins. But at least something seems to be happening almost all of the time.
How long can some slot players go before they also ﬂee to the hills? I used Carlos H. as my main man because Carlos, a university professor, is a fastidious slot player, one who analyzes every game he plays and every machine on which he plays. He has records in his library that go back years.
I guess you can honestly say that I am a fanatical slot player. I actually count the decisions that appear on the machine. If I play three hundred spins—I usually play the traditional type of machines—I will analyze how many wins and for what amount these wins are.
“I want to know what percentage of hits, wins and amounts I get in that ﬁrst three hundred decisions.
“Let us say that I have wins about ﬁfty times out of three-hundred decisions. That is about 17 percent of the time. That is a decent percent on a typical slot machine. I would make ‘decent’ between 14 and 20 percent. Playing on such a machine is overall a good thing in my opinion. A machine that is going higher than 20 percent would be an excellent machine in my estimation.
“Now at the end of three-hundred decisions you want to know if you are ahead or behind and by how much. If the game is close, I stay in it; if the game is beating me by a high degree, I might switch machines. I will do the process on all machines.
“I will go to ﬁve-hundred decisions on a decent machine before I analyze what is happening and whether to stay or not.
“I once played sixty-eight decisions on one machine before I got even one hit. This was my opening play on that machine. Needless to say, I was somewhat shook by that number of losing decisions. That was, thankfully, a one-time thing but I have gone thirty to forty losing decisions on other machines.
“With slots you have to be careful. Even with an outlandish number of losing decisions in a row, a couple of decent hits and you are back in the game. I look to see if the moderate hits can get me back in the money game.
“I do my three-hundred hits before I decide to stay or go. I feel that three hundred is a decent number of decisions.
“Does my method mean I am ahead of the game? No, it doesn’t. The house has an edge over you no matter what, but I enjoy analyzing my statistics and deciding based on them whether I continue to play or leave.”
I am wondering if anyone else would want to adopt Carlos’ method of play. It is unique, that’s for sure.
All the best in and out of the casinos!