Simple slots questions and simple slots answers
By Frank Scoblete
Simple Slots Question: I know that there’s something called the RNG that controls the computerized slot machines but I have no idea what this means and how the results come from this computer thingy. Can you help me on this? I know it doesn’t change the way I play but it would be nice to know what is behind the curtain.
Simple Slots Answer: The RNG is the random number generator inside almost all slot machines – it is indeed the “man” behind the curtain. Some experts call the RNG the PRNG which means the pseudo-random-number generator. The reason it is sometimes called “pseudo” is that the randomness isn’t quite random – although it is random enough to be considered random. It is so almost random that it is for practical purposes actually random.
Okay, though I am not a computer expert (or a thingy expert), I will give you my layperson’s concept of how the RNG works in a slot machine. This is a computer program that constantly picks number sequences – really fast as in really, really fast; faster than Thor can shoot lightning bolts from his hammer – and these sequences are random or as close to random as a program can be.
Each number sequence relates to the symbols or figures or videos on the slot machine. The easy-to-win small hits have more of a chance of appearing since there are more number sequences that reflect the smaller wins. However, the big wins and those monster jackpots have very few number sequences that relate to them. Megabucks, for example, is approximately 50 million to one that the number sequence for the massive jackpot will be hit. You could go from callow youth to great grandpa playing these machines with nary a massive win.
The actual events of a slot machine such as the reels spinning or the videos playing or the figures appearing in this or that order are not controlled by the mechanics of the machine. The RNG is working constantly behind the curtain even when the machine isn’t being played. A player hitting the credit button will get the symbols relating to the sequence at that instant in time. His pressing the credit button (or kicking the machine in frustration) has nothing to do with what’s coming up. What’s coming up is coming up whether the machine is being played or not.
And remember the RNG is picking numbers at a lightning rate so there is no way to outguess the machine – and kicking it will not help you win but might get you thrown out of the casino.
Simple Slots Question: I once read an article by you stating that the best machines to play are the stand alone machines. But when I look at the return on the machines in a given venue the percentage is stagnant, so aren’t all machines in that denomination returning the same amount over time? If it is 92 percent, isn’t it 92 percent for all machines in that denomination?
Simple Slots Answer: Most people are not aware of the fact that not all machines in a given denomination return the same amount over time. You might have a 92 percent average in a given venue but some machines are programmed to return 94 or 95 percent, while other machines are programmed to return 86 or 87 percent even though they are in the same denomination. (These percentages are just off the top of my head.)
Generally the machines that are progressive, interlinked machines will return less money in order to build up big jackpots, while the stand-alone, non-progressive machines will return more since they are not pushing monstrous possible hits.
How does that affect you? If you are looking to get as close a game as that denomination will give you against the house, then you go with the stand-alone machines. However, if you are interested in dreaming of a big jackpot and perhaps buying your own island and you do not care that the house is taking a larger percentage of the money played, then by all means “hitch your wagon to a star.”
As an aside: I also recommend playing one coin in those stand-alone machines. If a machine takes three coins to be a full-coin machine, reducing to one coin will limit your losses by about two-thirds even with machines offering a bigger jackpot on the biggest winning symbols. That little extra on the jackpot is just not worth increasing your risk by playing three coins instead of one.
This advice does not really hold true for video poker but video poker is a whole different animal. Look into Jerry “Stickman” Stich’s articles to learn the proper plays for video poker. The best video poker players know the specific strategy for the specific machines they play. The better the player the lower the house edge.
Frank Scoblete’s new books are “I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage- Play Craps”; “Confessions of a Wayward Catholic” and “I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack.” All available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores. Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com.