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Players ask insightful questions about slots

By Frank Scoblete


Q: I have been told that slots are run by a random number generator, but I have no idea of what that means. When I press play on a machine aren’t the wheels or video symbols what de- termines whether I win or not and not just some computer? Truth be told I am confused. Can you explain this to me? I am not a mathematician or computer geek so keep it simple. Thanks.

A: The RNG, which stands for the “random number generator” is a computer program that picks numbers at random (or as close as we can humanly get to random) to decide which symbols will appear on the machine.This RNG is working at all times, even when the machine is not being played, so when you press the play button the machine tells you what symbols have been picked at that moment by the RNG.The symbols are the machine’s way of telling you what the computer has already selected.

The RNG selects these numbers quickly, in tenths of seconds, so there is no way a human being playing a machine can out-think it.

Anyway, that is my simple explanation!

Q: I have read your articles before, but I am not sure why you say that the progressive machines are not as good as the non- progressives for saving our money. After all, if a progressive hits, and if it is a really big progressive, that can be life changing. Please explain your thoughts on this.

A: You are correct; a big hit on a progressive with a big jackpot, can be life-changing. However, almost all slot players will never hit a big progressive jackpot. Now, the progressive is able to produce those staggering amounts by withholding money along the way to get the money for the jackpot.To do such, the actual payback of the machine is much worse than the payback for a non-progressive machine. So, playing the non-progressive will actually save you money over the long haul.

As an example, if you look at pay- backs for dollar machines in a given locality, you might find that they average maybe 92 percent. However, since the progressives are re- turning a lower percentage than 92 percent, that means the non-progressives are giving you better than 92 percent. I use that idea as an interesting rule of thumb as to why I recommend the non-progressives. My way of play is not life changing but it can change how much you lose in the long run.

Q: I played about a thousand dollars through a slot machine and the next session I played about a thousand dollars through a video poker machine. When I checked my comps, I got much more for the slot play than for the video poker play. Why is that? Did the casino make a mistake?

A: The casino did not make a mistake. Since video poker machines will return more to the player who knows the proper or close to the proper strategy, they are not worth as much to the casino and thus the comps for playing video poker are less than the comps for playing slot machines. Keep in mind most video poker machines at all denominations are better bets than almost all slot machines at those same denominations. The casino does not want to give more money away on video poker players than it has to. And that’s business, short and sweet.

Q: Can someone steal another player’s jackpot on a machine if that other player quits playing and the second player jumps onto the machine immediately? My friends and I are debating this issue. I say no one can steal a jackpot or anything else.

A: You are right. Short of mugging a jackpot winner and literally stealing the money, the RNG is so fast that the next decision has happened already. Every spin is unique and not lined up so that the “next spin” will definitely be a jackpot. Players might wish that were so but wishes and dreams are often what the slot machines are all about.

Q: How come slot machines are the biggest winners for the casinos? I mean something like 80 percent of players play the machines; for all I know, it might even be more. What is the fascination with slot machines? I don’t get it.

A: Tough question. People play the machines for a variety of reasons.

Some people do not like rubbing shoulders with other players at the table games and often these same players might feel ashamed if they played poorly and their fellow players scorned them. However, the slots offer a relaxed atmosphere where no one usually bothers you. You and the machine are one. You can play at your own pace; you can play lower to higher denominations as you will. Slots seem to fit everyone’s bankroll, or that is the thought. But you are right, the slots attract the largest number of players and without those machines I seriously doubt that casino gambling would have mushroomed as it has across the country.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

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