Defining Hot and Cold Slots, Loose and Tight Slots

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Loose slots sign Fremont Street

If you play slots long enough you’ll hear players talking about slots being hot or cold, or being loose or tight. Many players use that as an evaluation about whether they play machines or not, or at least sometimes question it. Here’s an example:

If you see someone lose on a slot machine and they leave, should we play that machine in the hope of an increased chance of it paying?

Janelle R.

All of these terms are an evaluation of what’s happened in the past:

  • A hot slot, or loose slot, is one that’s been paying out. Generally speaking, they are terms used to indicate a favorable outcome on a game.
  • A cold slot, or tight slot, is one that has been tough to players and not paying out. Generally speaking, they are terms used to indicate an unfavorable outcome.

Those of you who have been following along on the site may have picked up on the part about “in the past” because that has no relevance to what can or will happen, as any outcome is possible on the next spin.

As such, if you see someone lose, that won’t be helpful information to know if you’ll win. You could also lose. Or you could win! Or tread water. The potential for any outcome is the same on any spin.

The only time where loose slots as a term may prove helpful is when there is specific marketing going on to draw attention to better performing slots. In those cases, casinos are proving through data that their machines pay better, and that’s important for players to catch when it happens. 

Although slots are designed to make money for the casino over time, truly looser slots will hold back less over time – this means you may lose less, or have a winning session a bit more often, but in the long run your bankroll will generally last longer, all else being equal.

The reality though is most of us use these terms when talking about a casino or a slot with the anecdotal evidence of a single session or handful of sessions, which isn’t remotely scientific. A broad range of outcomes can happen in the short term, but that doesn’t mean a slot is more likely to pay just because in its recent history it hasn’t paid much.


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