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Sometimes even the mysterious stranger can’t win

By Frank Scoblete


Playing slots can seem as if you are in a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. You remember those films, mostly starring the young Clint Eastwood before anyone knew what a tremendously talented film maker he would become.

Those movies had a great, mysterious hero (played by Eastwood), totally nasty villains (the best of which was Eli Wallach) and at last, finally, thank the stars, the good guy won in the end after much struggle and the death of most of the cast and the extras.

Let’s talk the good.

You go to your favorite slot machine, put in $100, and start playing. Even if you are on a machine that hits maybe nine percent of the time (such as Blazing Sevens), you nail a big pay within the first three spins. From there you just hammer the casino. You are winning fully 40 percent of your decisions. Credits are piling up on your machine.

Several people come over and comment on how well you are doing. Your spouse comes over and comments on how well you are doing. You even comment on how well you are doing. Short of winning a Megabucks’ jackpot, this is the greatest session you ever had. Indeed, you are the modern-day mysterious man (or woman) with no name beating the bad guys—which in slot terms is the programming of the machines. Sergio Leone’s scripts have nothing you have not experienced this day, at least it seems that way.

When you finish your play and leave the casino to go to your room or drive back to your home, you walk on air. What a day! Actually, what a day and what a night! Can this continue? Will you always shave such good fortune?

Now, let’s look at the bad.

You put $100 in your favorite machine. You go about 15 decisions before you hit a decent pay. You aren’t ahead but you are close to being even. You win another decision and now you are ahead, well, a little ahead. You then go another 10 decisions without a win. You decide to change machines.

Your new machine gives you several wins in a row, right off the bat. You feel good luck is on its way! Then you lose most of the next 20 decisions. The decisions you win are for chump change.

You switch machines again. You go back and forth, but the “backs” (losses) are greater than the “forths” (wins). It is becoming one of those slot days. For several moments here or there it looks that with a few more hits you might get ahead but then the losing streaks occur and soon you realize this is not going to be your day or night.

You’re sinking.

You brought a few hundred to play with but you decide to call it a session and go to lunch. Maybe later on, you might come back and try your luck some more. Still it was an interesting day; you even got to talk to some fellow slot players. You also got to see some real characters too.

All in all, a bad day at the machines but not a devastating one.

And now for the ugly.

You put your $100 bill into the machine. The machine spits the bill back. You put it in again and again the machine spits it back. You check the bill to make sure it looks okay. You check the bill accepter of the machine. Yes, you did everything right. You put the bill back in and this time the machine accepts it.

You sit, crack your fingers (snap! snap!); you are ready to rock ‘n roll.

You lose your $100 without a single hit. You put in another $100 bill and the machine spits it back. “To heck with this machine,” you think and you head down the slot aisle looking for another machine.

A nice elderly woman says to you, “I have to leave but this machine I’ve been playing has been pretty good. Why not give it a try.”

Yes, indeed; a loose machine. You put the $100 bill into the bill accepter and the machine accepts the bill. You are on your way!

You win the first spin! Oh, yeah, you are on a hot machine. The money is going to pour in like rain in Noah’s flood.

In 15 minutes you have lost your second $100. But you did win some decisions on this machine so maybe stay for another try. You put your $100 bill into the bill accepter. It spits it back.

Screw this. You go to one of those 100 multi-line machines. You can make up all the money you’ve lost with one big hit. You play every line. You win some and you lose more. You play every line. You win some and lose more… and you lose more… and you change machines and you lose more and you wander the casino putting money in this or that machine and you lose more and you lose more.

You run out of money. You go to the ATM machine and take out $300, paying an awful commission in order to get the money.

You are going to take the big shot—a $100 machine. You put your bills into the machine which accepts them gladly.

You lose. You go back to your room, curl up into a fetal position and have an urge to suck your thumb.

And that, my friends, is the good, the bad and the ugly.

Frank Scoblete’s newest book is I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps; available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at your local bookstore. To celebrate his 25 years as a casino player, Frank will be happy to send you a free copy of his book The Virgin Kiss. Just email him ( your address.

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