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No Luck Necessary

Why casinos don’t need Lady Luck in their corner

By Frank Scoblete


Just about all slot players have had glorious nights where they walked on top of the waves; where they stood atop the mountains looking down haughtily at sea and land, and at all the places where they reigned as kings and queens of the gambling world.

Many slot players have experienced soaring wins–some for unfathomably large amounts. The luckiest have had their pictures taken while holding outrageously large checks and being flanked by smiling casino executives. “Look at my great good luck,” the smiling face of the slot winner proclaims. “I am special, because I have won!”

Oh, such heady times when good luck abounds. It feels right; it feels proper. The winning slot player feels that this is the way Lady Luck was meant to be!

On the flip side, just about all slot players have sunk to the lowest levels of casino hell, when luck turned against them and they lost decision after decision on every machine they decided to play. Nothing worked. Every move they made lost. They couldn’t get a break; not a single, stinking break. They took time off and came back to the machines, only to lose even more.

During such bad-luck sessions, some slot players might feel the need to go back to their hotel rooms, crawl into bed, curl up into the fetal position and suck their thumbs. It can be that bad. I’ve been there, believe me, and I can tell you nothing sends you back into tortured childhood like having your head handed to you at a casino game.

I’ve experienced that sinking sensation when Lady Luck lets go of your hand to go flirt with someone else (whose heart she shall break in good time as well)–and then the terrible realization that she won’t be coming back, as your losses continue to pile up.

No matter what great luck you’ve had in the past, just about every slot player can look forward to getting creamed now and again. It’s inevitable.

Casino gambling–and slot machine play, in particular–are true studies in good luck and bad luck. You either win or lose (okay, maybe on some nights you break even; I guess that could be considered a form of good luck as well). Sometimes you win big, and sometimes you lose big.

Good luck and bad luck; players can’t escape the luck factor in casino games. The players’ fates are in the hands of forces greater than their own desires. They have no say in how decisions are reached on a machine. They merely accept the resulting fallout from such decisions; they smile when it’s good, and frown when it goes south.

The machine controls the game, and the programmers of these machines make sure that in the end, the players must lose. How is that so?

It has to do with “no luck.” The concept of “no luck” has everything to do with casino gambling because it is possible, probable, and probably inevitable to win money with no luck whatsoever–if you are the casino, that is.

So say hello to the big sledge hammer in the casinos’ arsenal–the math of the games and programming of the machines.

The casinos do not rely on luck to win or lose. If they did, they would go out of business. The casino must rely on the underlying math of the games to win. While this or that decision, at this or that game, might have some luck involved, the actual results of the games over a period of time reflect the mathematical probabilities. The casino doesn’t need good luck to win; it just needs a calculator and savvy computer programmers.

Good luck might overcome the math on occasion, but given enough time, the math wins. It’s a 15 round championship fight when a slot player takes on a machine. Math is the heavyweight champion of the casino and slot world. The player is doomed to get knocked out, unless he is one of the nano-fraction of “good-luckers” who win a jackpot.

Some players like to think this isn’t so. They postulate that there are specific ways to overcome the math. There aren’t. Even on the advantage-play machines that I write about in my new slots book Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines, other players must lose money before the machines become positive for the smart players who know when such positive moments occur. And yes, it is still the math that dominates in these situations; the only difference is that the advantage player is aware of the math during certain moments when the machine will give out more money than it takes in.

If the math gives the casino a 10 percent edge, then the casino will win 10 percent of all the money the players wager. That’s how it goes. The more money the players put into the machine, the more money that 10 percent works on.

For slot players, desiring good luck is no sin, but it’s just wishing and hoping. When the good luck comes, it causes ecstacy; when bad luck comes, it’s depressing. But for the casino, no luck is the key to their profits.


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

No Luck Necessary.

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