FINDING THE BEST SLOT MACHINE
Everyone who has ever played slots for at least five minutes seems to feel that they are qualified to find the best slot machine.
"Best" usually means the "loosest" slot, meaning that the machine seems to pay out more coins than have been played, at least for a time period. There are as many theories as there are people on how to find this elusive machine.
Some people believe strictly in luck. If they were wearing their lucky hat the last time that they played and won, then they will ascribe their luck to this hat and be sure to wear it every time they play.
Others like to talk to the slot machines while they play. I once played next to an elderly lady who started out telling her machine to "Be good to Mama, Baby," followed by an occasional pat on the front of the machine. After about thirty minutes her tune had changed to "Pay up you tight son of a bitch," followed by a whack on the machine glass.
Some folks like to test the temperature of the machine before they begin playing. If the machine is warmer than the other machines, then this qualifies the machine as a "hot" one, suitable for play.
Some people will only insert cold coins into a machine, claiming that if warmer coins are used, the machine tightens up.
Many players believe that slots should be played only at night or on the weekends, or some other variation of timing.
Still others believe that the rhythm used in pulling the handle is the secret. Implementation of this theory includes such variations as the short hard pull and the slow, almost delicate pull. Each has its adherents.
Others use the "the attendant must know" theory and ask the slot attendant which is the best machine to play. A variation of this is to observe another slot machine when playing and if the machine has not paid a jackpot in a long time, to consider playing the machine as it should be ready to pay.
The location within the casino is also important for many players. Some players claim that aisle machines are the best, while others believe that the loosest slots are hidden in back corners so that they don't get much play.
I wish I could tell you that one of these approaches works. You may consider that I have saved you some money, as each of these approaches have been touted at one time or another in slot publications of dubious value. I recently purchased a slot book which spent several pages describing how hot and cold machines are laid out in a casino based on the author's theory of how casino executives are supposed to think.
I don't have much to say about the "luck" or clairvoyance theories of slot play. Perhaps some folks got it and some don't. I know that I don't do very well when I rely purely on luck. If luck does work, I have the impression that it is a very personal thing, and I don't have any advice on how you may increase yours vis a vis winning at slot machines. I am going to assume that you are like me and believe that luck comes to those who are prepared, so we will concentrate on becoming more prepared.
The time of day theories are really absurd. Many players believe that the casinos can push a button inside a slot, or jiggle a couple of levers and change the payouts. With the microprocessor controlled slots, the chip itself must be changed to affect the payout percentages. Changing the chip requires the skill of a trained technician and several hours work. It is also an expensive proposition for a casino to be constantly changing its slots. You can rest assured that slot payouts in a particular casino will not change with nightfall or from a weekday to a weekend.
Obviously, talking to the machine or even caressing it, is not likely to have any effect on a computer chip controlled mechanism. Neither is the temperature of the machine (which is probably most affected by the temperature around it) nor the warmth of the coins. Slot machine levers have zero influence on the random number generating chip controlled machines. The machines could just as easily be activated by a button (as are the video slots) or a pull string. The days of handles activating gears which determined the rate of spin of the reels are long gone.
All of these theories may occasionally win some money for their adherents, but consider: Randomly selecting any machine may work just as well.
We are after something a little more definitive. Let's look first at some of the characteristics of the different types of slot machines.
One of the attributes we will look for on any machine is the ability to play from one to as many as five coins without any penalty for playing less than the maximum number of coins. Why? Because we want the flexibility to adjust the size of each wager dependent upon the exact playing conditions we are facing at that exact moment.
This condition knocks out of contention any single coin slot machines. With a single coin slot, the only option we have is to insert a coin and pull the lever. It is a win or lose proposition, with no alternatives other than changing machines. To have the best chance of winning, we will demand the flexibility to vary the number of coins based on each individual machine's attributes.
With this one condition, we will rule out play on any of the single coin mechanical machines. This restriction is not too severe, as these machines can only be found in a few downtown casinos in Las Vegas, and scattered about other Nevada sites.
By requiring that no penalty be imposed for playing with less than the maximum number of coins accepted by a particular machine, we will also rule out a number of multipliers which do impose this penalty. We will not want to play on any Option Multipliers (buy-a-pay) slots as these machines bring additional symbols into play with additional coins inserted so that with less than the maximum number of coins played, the number of winning symbols are severely reduced.
Less obviously, but using the same logic, we will reject playing on the Multiple Pay Line machines, which accomplish the same thing as the Option machines by bringing additional pay lines into play as additional coins are inserted.
A second condition we will impose is that the machine we select to play is a High Frequency machine. By high frequency, we mean that the machine has been programmed to pay off many lower payoffs more frequently rather than a very small number of higher payoffs.
Table 15 compares the hypothetical payoffs of Low and High Frequency slot machines.
Table 15. Comparison of High and Low Frequency Slots
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