Can the Casino Control What the Slot Gives You?

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Brian Christopher flips the switch

It can be hard to believe that a slot can be so punishing, but we as players sometimes struggle with the emotional side of things. Take this question:

I have been playing for over 20/30 years. I know it’s the RNG, but why is it after I win money, which sometimes takes a long time, I start losing it back a lot faster. It’s always crazy what comes up on my machine, like five fireballs and one’s a major and many things like that to suck you in to keep playing. Is my timing that far off or can the casino control what they want to give you? I’m sure we all feel like this most of the time . Plus when my bets are lowered it still goes fast on $1.25, $2.50, but when I go to $12.50, it seems like the machine fell asleep.

John

So let’s start with the core question. No, casinos cannot control the outcomes of slots to deliver a specific outcome or set of outcomes. Casinos can’t make specific outcomes come out at certain times, or make a machine “go cold.”

The outcome is solely determined by the random number generator, and each outcome is independent of any previous outcomes, which means your big win would have no influence over what comes next.

Instead, games tend to have periods where it feels like you can’t lose, and periods where it feels like you can’t win, because there’s some percentage of winning and losing spins in there, and sometimes the RNG just happens to bring those outcomes to light at that particular point in time.

Sometimes players think casinos turn down the payouts after a big win, for instance. But what would that actually mean? It would change the game’s payout over time, but it doesn’t mean it stops winning altogether, and another big win could happen even on the lower payout. Casinos with low payouts have jackpot winners all the time.

Instead, we as players attempt to place the blame of a losing streak on some sort of casino control, and not the fact that these games with the fireballs are a lot harder to win on than the games that were in casinos 15 or 20 years ago.Experts have indicated to us that on average only 1 in every 5 or 6 slot sessions are winning ones – that’s a pretty big percentage that end up being losing ones.

Regarding the five fireballs and the Major coming out, those scenarios as a near-miss element can be those that we recall because of the closeness to a win, and is part of the psychology of slots, but if you kept track long enough you’d realize it comes out about as often as it would any other time. It can just be more memorable when it happens during a frustrating losing streak.

To your points about lower vs. higher bets, most of us bet the lower end of our range more often than the higher end, so it’s easier to have unusually bad (or good!) experiences stand out when we do bet higher. And when you’re betting $12.50 vs. $1.25, you’re now betting 10 times higher – all else being equal a losing streak will consume that bankroll 10x faster as well. 

So keep that in mind when you think about a bigger bet to try to break through the bad run or to make up for losses – it’s not advised to do that because the swings get that much bigger for both the highs and the lows.


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