Why Do We Look for Patterns on Slots?

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Confused lady attempts math

Play on slots long enough and you’ll have various things you’ll notice – as humans it’s sort of what makes us special. The challenge is knowing what to actually pay attention to and what to ignore:

Have you really never noticed how certain games tend to give several bonuses in close proximity? Spin, spin and nothing. Finally you get a bonus, hooray. Then what do you know you hit 2 more within the next 30 spins. Then it seems to die, for lack of a better term. It’s really hard to not on some level think that there are coincidental patterns at times on certain slot games.

Jake M.

We all notice patterns – it’s in our nature! But the challenge is we notice those patterns after they’ve happened, and certain things will lock in our minds while others don’t.

For example, the three bonuses in a row thing is noticeable because of how unusual it is, especially on today’s slots. We don’t retain the number of times the bonus simply comes out once and goes away, because that’s more or less the norm, and we all probably try to forget the runs where absolutely nothing happens. 

Getting back to back (or back to back to back) bonuses is more rare, so when it happens it catches our attention and goes into a little corner of our memory. If you go back and play that same game, the odds are you won’t get three bonuses in quick succession, or perhaps it decides to give no bonuses at all – the spin, spin and nothing part is all you get. Of course, it could be argued, what if those three bonuses are just not arriving yet?

Quick Hit Link is a game we hate to love and love to hate around here right now, because you can get a few bonuses in quick succession, but there can be punishing droughts. But that’s simply the randomness of the game moreso than patterns surfacing. We’ve had a number of runs where we’re down to our last 10 spins and come back from the dead, and we had a recent session where we got absolutely nothing at all.

On modern slot machines the bonus frequency has been pushed out, so it’s simply harder to get a bonus than on older slots. So when those bonuses do come in quick succession, it’s a bit memorable – it’s not a pattern or cycle that repeats, it’s just a lucky break. But that desire to detect patterns and find solutions is a very human response that can be hard to push past mentally because it’s just how we are.

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