I get sick and tired of reading and hearing how bad slot machines are to play.
This drivel is usually from some snooty blackjack or poker player who seems to have a never ending list of why I should stop playing slots and take up whatever game they're playing.
Their list starts something like this:
And all the while they're losing money on a consistent basis just like every other sucker in the casino, including me.
So why is their way better than mine?
The answer is their way isn't better than mine. Their way is different, but that doesn't mean it's better. When is the last time you saw a blackjack player win $1,000 or more for a bet of only $1? It's never happened at the blackjack table, but it happens all of the time on slot machines.
Can't I spend my entertainment money the way I want just like they do?
We all have the right to choose what games we play and how we play them. As long as we have money to play with we can do whatever we want.
Here's a list of 7 slot machine fallacies with explanations why they're wrong. As you'll see, some of them are based somewhat on facts, but some are just plain wrong.
While some slot machine players lose more per hour than some table game players, it's far from absolute.
Some slots players spin the reels as quickly as possible and bet large amounts per spin, but many bet smaller amounts per spin and take fewer spins per hour.
Many slots players like to talk and socialize while playing so they spend more time visiting than spinning the reels. They enjoy the environment and the socialization and only risk a small amount for the chance to win from time to time.
They might lose most of the time they play but every once in a while they hit a nice combination and leave up for the day. They're happy when they leave either way because even if they don't win they have a good time with their friends and other slots players.
When they win it's a double win for these players. They might only play a quarter per spin and only take 100 spins per hour. This means they're only risking $25 per hour while the blackjack player may be betting $25 or more per hand.
Let's look at the numbers based on this example:
Even if the blackjack player is in a slow game and is playing with a house edge of just a half percent and the slots player is playing a terrible machine that has an edge of 15%, the blackjack player is going to lose more per hour on average. Here's the numbers.
$25 per hand times 50 hands per hour times a half percent = $6.25 expected loss per hour for the blackjack player.
100 spins times 25 cents times 15% = $3.75 expected loss per hour for the slots player.
And the slot machine player still has the chance at a higher single top pay out on a spin than the blackjack player has on any single hand.
As you'll learn in the next section, a 15% house edge is huge even for a slot machine. Many slots have a 5% or lower house edge and a few offer a 2% or less edge. Most blackjack players who don't use the proper strategy play at a 2% house edge or worse.
So the next time you hear or read that slots players lose more per hour than other casino players you'll know it's simply not true. As long as you don't bet too much or play too many spins per hour you're better off than most table game players.
The first thing to get out of the way is that this claim is simply wrong. Usually keno has the worst house edge in the casino, often of 20% or more. Some table games, like Caribbean Stud poker at over 5%, also have a higher house edge than many slot machines.
Casinos, both online and land based, don't usually like the public to know their edge on slot machines. Table games can have their edge determine by computer simulations, but slot machines operate a different way.
And when you do see the numbers on a slot machine it's not listed as a house edge, it's listed as a payback percentage. When you see a slot machine payback percentage you simply subtract it from one to get the expected house edge.
Here are a couple examples:
A slot machine with a payback percentage of 95% has a house edge of 5%.
One with a payback of 91% has a house edge of 9%.
A machine with a payback of 98.5% has a house edge of 1.5%.
Here's a little secret that most casino players don't know.
Sometimes a progressive slot machine has the jackpot grow to a point where the player is actually playing with an edge against the casino.
This doesn't happen often and the truth is that most players still lose in the long run even on these machines. The player that finally hits the big progressive jackpot wins enough that it pushes the overall edge past break even for the players as a whole, but all of the other players end up at a negative expectation point because they ended up not winning the jackpot.
Finding these machines is difficult because most slots games with a large progressive don't have their normal payback percentage published.
Let me start this section by asking you a question.
If you win a couple million dollars would it make your overall gambling outcome positive or negative? Even if you consider all of the bets and losses over your entire life the odds are that you haven't lost anywhere close to a couple million. You probably haven't even lost close to a million.
This means that almost everyone who's been lucky enough to win a huge progressive slots jackpot is probably an overall winning player. So with this information we can determine that all slots players aren't long term losers.
The truth is that most slot machine players lose in the long run. This happens with any game where the casino has an edge if you play long enough without a huge win.
But many slot machines have lower, but still significant prizes. While not many players a year win million dollar plus jackpots, many are lucky enough to have $10,000, $25,000, $50,000, and even $100,000 wins.
You can't plan to hit one of these lower jackpots or big prizes but players do hit them every day in casinos around the world and online.
It's true that many slot machines are advertised as penny slots and many of them force you to play 25 or more lines so the lowest bet is much higher than a penny.
But you can find slot machines, especially online, that let you bet a penny per spin. All you need to do is find a penny machine that lets you pick how many pay lines you want to activate.
If you're willing to bet a nickel or dime per spin your choices are even better. And quarter per spin machines are available everywhere.
This means you have a wide range of choices when it comes to the amount you bet per spin while playing slots.
One place that the casinos do get you when it comes to minimum bets while playing slots is on most progressive jackpot games. Most of them require a maximum bet to activate the chance to win the biggest prize. But this isn't isolated to slot machines. Video poker machines operate the same way.
Though the top prize usually isn't as large as the big progressives, many lower per line machines offer the chance at fair sized jackpots with every spin even if you don't play the maximum bet.
This one is so wrong that the truth is closer to the exact opposite.
Most casino player's clubs and slots clubs don't publish their exact return for your play, but they all operate on an internal schedule based on how much you risk and how much the casino expects to win from these wagers.
Slot machine play is usually one of the highest rated casino games for comps.
Many slots clubs also award their slots players with free play from time to time. This is the same as getting free cash to play more slots.
As a slot player you can expect as much or more in comps per dollar wagered as anyone in the casino. If you don't think your current casino is giving you enough in the way of comps you should shop around at other casinos. This goes for both land based and online play.
Slot machines, both online and in your local casino, are designed to provide a certain amount of long term profit for the casino. This is based on the payback percentage and is achieve by the percentage of time each possible combination shows up on the reels.
When you put your slots club card in the machine it doesn't change anything. It simply tracks your play for comp purposes. Some slots clubs don't even track how much you win or lose. All they care about is how much you bet because they know that collectively all of their slots play will return a certain percentage of profit over time.
In addition, reducing the pay outs for slots club members over non club members simply doesn't make sense. If a slots club member thought they were getting less in return than other players they're likely to play somewhere else.
One reason that people believe things like this is because they think that slots clubs and player's clubs cost the casino money. The opposite is the truth. These clubs only pay out from profits and they encourage more play from members by awarding them more for more play.
Online slot machines are designed with the same type of game engine as land based machines. The games use random number generators to assign the outcomes and all of the possible outcomes are chosen from a long list. Each outcome is basically assigned a number and the random number picks which outcome is displayed from the list.
The online slots are exactly like the land based ones in the fact that over time they return a certain percentage of bets to the players and the rest is profit for the casino. This doesn't mean the machines are fixed, and online casinos have slots winners at the same rate as land based casinos.
As long as you find a reputable and safe online casino you're just as likely to be a winner while playing online as when you play in Las Vegas or at your local casino.
The other nice thing about playing online slots is most casinos give you a healthy bonus when you make a deposit so you get free money to play with. Land based casinos sometimes give you free play, but usually nowhere close to the bonuses you can get online.
Online bonuses are usually at least equal to your deposit amount and can be much higher. I've seen online slots bonuses of up to $10,000. Common ones are 100% of your deposit up to $500 or more.
Now you know the truth about 7 common slot machine myths. In addition, you can use what you've learned to have a better chance to walk away a winner and lose less on the occasions when luck isn't on your side.