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Believing myths about slot machines can cost you big

By Frank Scoblete


The big progressives are actually the toughest machines on which to win since they must withhold money for those large jackpots.

The world of the slot machines is filled with misinformation or semi-truthful information. Players often have the wrong idea about what is going on within the machine when they put their credit voucher in. So here are some untruths quickly followed by some truths that slot players should take to heart.

Untruth: Slot machines are programed to give out a certain amount of money. Therefore, if a machine has been cold it must warm up to fulfill its programming. If you learn of a cold machine hop on it because it is going to change to a hot machine.

Truth: The idea is correct as far as it goes, but it is also wrong. Yes, machines are indeed programmed to give a certain percentage of the money played in them as wins for players. But there is a big except here. There is no time limit as to when a machine will get hot. It may be cold when you watch it or play it but you have no idea whether it was hot or cold yesterday and will be hot or cold tomorrow. The programming of a slot machine is based on a random-number-generator (RNG) and it is not programmed to get hot or cold to keep handing out the same percentage of wins over the short term – and all slot players are playing in the short term.

Untruth: I saw a television commercial where a man claims that he knew he was going to win the big jackpot and that he shaved because of this foreknowledge so he would look good for the picture the PR and news people would take. Can such foreknowledge actually happen? Or is the commercial an actor telling us what we want to hear?

Truth: The commercial is real and the man is a real person who indeed had a feeling that he was going to win. Unfortunately thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of players every day think they are going to be lucky but instead they lose. There is no such thing as psychic knowledge of when a machine will hit. But all of us can applaud the guy who won, but his foreknowledge is (sadly) meaningless.

Untruth: Loose slot machines are always placed on the outside areas of the casino to lure players in. That has been going on for generations.

Truth: There was a time, long ago, when casinos did have strategic placement of loose slots to draw people in but that is not necessary any more. Slot players don’t care about being drawn into the casinos; indeed today’s slot players run into the slot aisles to play. It might be the closest thing to indoor rugby.

Untruth: The best slot machines to play are the progressives such as Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune. These give you the best chance of winning on any given night since they are programmed to give out really large jackpots.

Truth: While the idea of winning a fortune on a slot machine is the fancy of many slot players – and Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune certainly play into that fantasy – the big progressives are actually the toughest machines on which to win since they must withhold money for those large jackpots. Your chances of coming home with a win are therefore less than coming home with a win on stand-alone machines not linked to any other machines.

Untruth: It is better to play full coin on all slot machines to assure getting the maximum payout on the jackpot. It makes no sense playing just one coin or credit.

Truth: Here is where I differ from most of my writing colleagues on slot play. Yes, if you are going for one of those monster jackpots then of course play full coin. Let me take a traditional three-line stand-alone slot machine. Using full coin means you play three times the money or credits than someone playing a single coin or credit. Think about it; you are playing many games against the house edge. The amount you receive in a jackpot does not make up for three times what you are spending to get to that jackpot. So in such cases only play one coin or credit. That might seem like radical advice but I think it is the best advice.

Untruth: The best advice anyone can give is to quit while you are ahead.

Truth: This is purely wishful thinking. In fact, at times it is absurdly wishful thinking. You’ve bought your expensive plane ticket and booked a room in a fabulous Las Vegas hotel. You go down and buy put credits on the slot machine of your choice. As luck would have it, you win your first decision. You are now ahead after your very first moment of gambling. Do you leave?

Or, you lose that first decision and you are behind and although you win some decisions and lose some decisions, you never get ahead of the machine – do you keep playing until you lose every penny you have because you were never ahead at any time in your play? Or do you finally give up and say, “That’s it for me” and quit even though you are behind?

Untruth: The IRS is sent all the information about the total amount of money you put into a machine if you use a player’s card. Also, once you have a player’s card the machines are programed to give back far less money.

Truth: No and no.


[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage- Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores. Visit Frank’s web site at]


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