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Loose Vs. Tight – Slot

Which types of slot machines make the casinos more money?

by Frank Scoblete


Slot players are always looking for their one true love.  Unlike in affairs of the heart, they want that one true love to be loose.


One can take a quick glance at the slot payback tables in this issue, or any issue, of Strictly Slots to get an idea of which regions of the country have the highest slot machine payout percentages.  Conversely, one can also see which areas have the lowest payout percentages.  In jurisdictions that report individual percentages, you can also compare one casino to another.  Slot or video poker machines that have higher payback percentages are referred to as “loose” while those with lower returns are “tight.”

The slot payout percentages published in Strictly Slots and Casino Player represent the average percent of each slot wager that is returned to the players in jackpots.  For penny, nickel, quarter, 50-cent, one-dollar and even five-dollar machines, these percentages tend to reflect a large amount of play.  You can be relatively certain that the payback percentage numbers are not only accurate, but valid.  However, you can’t be as confident in the statistics for the higher denomination machines such as the 25-dollar and higher limits.  These machines generally receive less play and the actual returns can vary widely in the short-term making statistically valid comparisons much less reliable.  However, by comparing the payout percentages over a given period of time, readers can get an idea where the loosest and tightest slots can be found.

Slot Machines

Realize, of course, that my designations of loose and tight are relative and based on a comparative study. A loose slot is loose in relation to one that is not as loose.  Read that sentence again.  A loose slot is loose in relation to one that is not as loose.  It makes sense doesn’t it?  This is Albert Einstein’s Special Slot Theory of Relativity.  Now it doesn’t take a genius or a rocket scientist to see that a quarter slot machine returning 95 percent is looser than a quarter slot machine returning 89 or 90 percent.

Let’s suppose a casino’s slot aisles are filled with machines paying back 95 percent and a competing casino’s slot inventory only had 89 to 90 percent payback machines.  All other things even, which casino property would make the most money in the long run?  I say the casino property with the loose machines would make more money!  There are several reasons for this.

First, with looser machines, players have a tendency to have more winning sessions, or lose less during losing sessions.  They can also play longer without draining their bankrolls in a short period of time – their session bankrolls last longer!  When players tend to win more or lose less at a particular casino, they tend to come back to that casino.  The more they win, the more they prefer to play at the casino where these wins take place.  Winning makes players happy.  A happy customer is one who will come back time and time again.  This is the repeat business scenario. The looser casino might not make as much from a player in one visit as a tight casino would, but when that player returns for multiple visits … Let’s just say, I can literally hear the cash register ringing!

Second, a casino with looser slots might win less per player per visit, but it will have many more players to win less from.  This means they stand to make more money over time than the casino winning more money from fewer players.  Read that again.  It makes complete sense, doesn’t it?  This isn’t rocket science!

Third, the more repeat visits casino players make to a casino property, the more money they tend to spend in the restaurants, bars, and sundry shops.  Not to mention they spend money on hotel rooms and in other retail venues like clothing stores or specialty shops.  This can be considered the reverse of collateral damage.  It’s actually collateral profitability.

Let’s not forget that happy players tend to tell other players which casinos have made them happy.  In short, they spread the glad tidings to their friends, relatives, and even strangers. So our happy player not only returns to play at that casino, but often brings friends and relatives with them on these subsequent visits.  One might consider this a “friendly relative enhancement” for that particular casino.

Now, how about those casinos that have relatively tight slot machines?  Are they in the forefront when it comes to a player’s long-term slot play?  Not hardly!

Slot aficionados tend to hunt for the better payouts. When they can’t find them or simply get tired of losing, they make fewer trips. These players stay home and eat in their own kitchens and dining rooms. A casino restaurant can’t be full of diners if those potential diners decided to stay home. I think that these tight casinos are simply asking for long-term trouble.

To the casino executives at these tight properties, I say, “Come on!  No one likes a tight wad.”  These “Silas Marner” properties might make some money in the short-run, but they must recruit new players all the time.*  Their crop of current players will often divorce them.  Slot players are always looking for their one true love.  Unlike in affairs of the heart, they want that one true love to be loose.

So what can you do if you find yourself in an area of the country where your local casinos have super-tight machines?  Well, you could write a letter to the slot director.  Chances are that that won’t work, however.  More than likely the slot directors are probably looking at their bosses for guidance and in hopes that such a boss might promote them from slot director to casino director.  I’ve found that casino directors often resemble sloths when it comes to the change department.  Of course, you could just moan and bare it. I’ll admit that isn’t much fun and by accepting the status quo, nothing changes.  Another course of action you could choose is to save your money and take a trip where the slot sun is shining.  Sure the trip will cost you money, but such a trip is a vacation.  Plus, you might have more fun playing longer and might even come away a winner!  Your trip will cost the tight casino some money too.  If enough players choose that path, maybe that will change the slot director’s mind to loosen payouts.

So, here’s the plan.  Plain and simple:  you must steel your mind against any machines that are tight.  Don’t play them!  Look up the figures and be aware of who’s who and what’s what on the casino slot frontier. Tell your friends and relatives the good places to play.  Shoo them away from those casinos where the players represent the proverbial nail and the slot machines the hammer.

I think we should have a slot players’ rebellion in this country.  To heck with the Tea Party!  To heck with the Occupy Wall Street folks!  To heck with everything that annoys you like high gas prices and nuclear war – we want slot machines that are really, really loose!  We will not settle for anything less.  If slot players win more, the casinos will ultimately win more.  It’s a win-win!

I proclaim that we must have freedom!  “Freedom to be loose,” I say.  “Let freedom ring in the form of bells, cherries, bonus spins, and Triple 7’s!”

Whew.  Sorry.  I got a little carried away there.  By now, I’m sure you get the picture when it comes to loose versus tight slots.  After all, the picture is in high-definition and in 3-D.  We can’t make it any clearer, we want loose machines everywhere!


*Editor’s Note:  Silas Marner is a friendless weaver who cares only for his cache of gold before undergoing a life-altering event in George Eliot’s 1861 novel “Silas Marner:  The Weaver of Raveloe.”


Frank Scoblete’s newest books include Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines! featuring advantage-play slots; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! which comes with a DVD showing controlled throws. Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players! and Beat Blackjack Now! These items are all available from or at your favorite bookstore.  To order by mail or for a free brochure, simply call 1-866-SET-DICE.


 Loose Vs. Tight – Slot.

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