Slot Machine Mythology

Imagine playing a slot machine for an hour, not doing so well and deciding to try your luck a few machines down the row. You are playing only a moment or two, when back at the machine you just left a chorus of chimes, bells and sirens begin because the next player has just struck the jackpot!

The agony of this is enough to make you scream! If only you had stayed a few minutes longer you would have hit the “big one”, right? Wrong.

One of the biggest myths around slot machines is the one above. That player who slid a few seats down probably would not have won the jackpot the other person did, and this is because of Random Number Generation, or RNG.

RNG software is what drives most modern slot machines. It is a hyper-fast computer program that spits out well over one hundred random numbers each second. When a player initiates a spin the computer locks into a series of RNG numbers and, with the lightning fast speed possible only with computers, tells the reels where to stop.

This means that the earlier player and the jackpot winner would have had to follow the same set of procedures down to the millisecond in order for them both to have hit the buttons at the time to initiate the jackpot sequence.

So, the next time someone wins big at a machine you recently vacated don’t stress or fret, you didn’t “lose” a thing.

Another slot machine myth states that “machines at the end of the rows are set to hit jackpots more often”. This too is technically impossible. While machines can vary in their payback percentages, they cannot be programmed to strike jackpots more frequently than other machines.

What are payback percentages? Because modern slot machines are controlled and governed by computer software programs they can deliver a theoretical profit to the casino and payback amount to the player. This means that they can realistically predict how much they have the potential for losing, though “chance” is “chance” and there are absolutely no guarantees on any slot machines.

So, in answer to this myth, some machines may be set at higher payback amounts and appear to yield more wins to a player if observed for several hours or days, there are no ways that a casino could have machines that win more frequently on a regular or set basis.

Okay, you say, if that is so why do jackpots always seem to strike when a casino is chock full of gamblers and guests? This is answered by simple probability – the more a game of chance is played the more frequently there will be a winner. When the casino is quiet, the games are just not being played, but on an active night with approximately six hundred “pulls” per machine, per hour, the likelihood of many “hits” is greatly increased. Again, the computer software makes it impossible for any casino to control the outcome of any pull on any machine.