Are Losing Streaks Programmed Into Slots?

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row of slot machines

It can feel like slots sometimes purposefully beat up on players, with every game just taking and taking. And then there’s times where it feels like you can’t lose. One player had a question about this observation:

Why is it if I choose to stay at one machine for an extended time it always reaches a point in its program where the feature is no longer available & line pays shrink to less than 5 times bet? I am talking about for well over 300 spins. Do machine algorithms have a shut down limit?

Matthew E.

Machine algorithms don’t have a shutdown limit, nor do they have any programming to go into take mode. But when you’re playing a game with a house advantage, it’s probably to be expected there are times where winning will be in short supply.

Slots have a set number of outcomes from which the random number generator can work, and it’s certainly the case that you can get clumps of winning spins or bonuses, as well as losing spins and bonuses, as you play along. 

As games get more volatile, these losing periods will be amplified, because all the money’s in those less frequent big wins, as opposed to offering pays along the way. Just look at how Huff N’ Puff evolved into Huff N’ More Puff – the line pays were heavily reduced so the game could offer more bonuses, which means droughts of features and big line hits would do exactly what you’ve described if a bonus doesn’t come around for awhile.

Given all this, it would stand to reason as a player that if you stay at a game for an extended period of time, the chances will increase as the session progresses that you’ll hit a dry spell at some point. 

A game already designed to make money for the casino will not go into “take mode” as I’ve seen players call it, but still the range of outcomes means losing periods are to be expected. This is why we always recommend back-up spins after a win, or setting a stop point – it’s unrealistic to think a game will keep paying you forever, so it’s good to lock in a profit when you’re up!

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