Every slot player can tell stories about slot machines that were beyond “loose,” seemingly spilling money with every spin, and other slot machines that were so “tight” it was hard not to believe they were rigged somehow. It is also every slot player’s dream, upon entering a casino, to find that one machine that will turn him or her into an instant multimillionaire.
10 Common Misconceptions about the Payout Percentages of Slots
It is not surprising that a form of casino gambling as universally popular as slots has perpetuated a lot of misinformation about the way payouts are determined. The following are some of the more common misconceptions about slot payout percentages. Millions of people believe them, but not one of them is true.
- 1. If a machine has been running cold, or when just starting to play, it is better to play fewer coins per spin to give the machine a chance to “warm up.”
- 2. You should look for a machine that has not paid out a major win in a while because it is “due.”
- 3. It is a waste of time to play a machine that has just paid out a big jackpot.
- 4. Casinos tighten their machines during busy periods like weekends or holidays.
- 5. Playing more than one slot machine at a time will improve one’s chances of winning.
- 6. It is a bad idea to play two adjacent machines or play the machine next to one where another player is clearly winning.
- 7. Casinos have the right to change minor prize odds on multi-casino linked progressives to their own advantage.
- 8. Playing slots with a player’s card decreases your chance of winning.
- 9. The loosest machines are those closest to entrances or other areas that generate the most traffic.
- 10. It pays to tip a slot attendant, waitress, or other casino employee for inside information on where the loose slots are or which slots are “due.”
FALSE: Each spin is random and independent of the preceding one.
FALSE: Machines are not pre-programmed to pay out after any designated period of time or number of spins.
FALSE: The reverse of the second statement also has no truth to it. What happens on each spin is a random occurrence, not influenced by what happened on the last spin.
FALSE: Payout percentages can only be changed when there is a sufficiently compelling reason for the regulating commission to authorize it. Changes cannot be made on whim or on a regular basis. There is no right or wrong day of the week or time to play.
FALSE: The outcome of every spin is randomly determined. Playing more than one machine at a time will require a bigger bankroll, but it will not affect the odds of winning. A person playing two machines simultaneously may win on one and lose on the other, win on both, or lose on both.
FALSE: Casinos do not arrange their machines in a predetermined order like alternating looser machines with tighter ones. How the immediately adjacent machine is paying out at any given point in time is unrelated to how you are likely to fare.
FALSE: All of the odds are preset by the manufacturer and cannot be altered by individual casinos.
FALSE: The random number generator (RNG) on a slot machine doesn’t change based on whether the person seated at the machine is a rated player or not. Each time you use a player’s card when playing slots, you earn points towards valuable perks and rewards so it is foolish not to use it.
FALSE: That may have been true at one time, but it is no longer true.
FALSE: Their guess is only as good as yours. Also, whether or not a particular slot has paid a jackpot recently is not a reliable indicator about when it is going to pay another one. Each spin is random. So it is impossible to predict when a slot is “due” to hit.
How to Pick the Slot Machines with the Best Rate of Return
Now that you know the kinds of factors that have no bearing on how well a particular slot machine will pay, the natural question is are there other factors which can steer you to slot machines with a good rate of return. Since no slot machine is programmed to pay out at a 100% rate (at least in the long run), there is always an element of risk even with machines with exceptionally high payouts. But as a general rule, there are certain indicators that can help guide you into making a better choice.
Avoid playing slot machines in back alleys, hole in the wall casinos, and other questionable locations and only play in licensed establishments with a solid reputation for fairness. Local gaming authorities not only set average game payouts for the slots in its jurisdiction, but also minimum payouts for each machine, with which all licensed operators must comply. Furthermore, just because certain machines may pay out better than the minimum, a casino is not allowed to have other machines that pay out less than the minimum. In other words, the worst case scenario, if you play in a licensed casino, is that you will be playing a machine with the minimum payout allowed by the applicable gambling laws for that region.
Keep in mind that during the short run of an individual playing session, virtually anything can happen, and it is not at all unusual for a machine to pay out at either a much higher rate or much lower rate than it is programed to do on the average. However, with millions of combinations of spins over time, the rate of return closely approximates the expected rate.
While players at land-based casinos are not privy to which specific machines have the highest rate of return, higher denomination machines, as a rule, do offer a higher rate of return than lower denomination machines. Many so-called penny machines are set up with the option to play so many coins at a time, they become no less expensive than quarter machines. But in that case, you might be better off with the quarter machine since it will probably have a better payout percentage.
Progressive machines also will typically have a return to player (RTP) rate that is lower than non-progressive machines. You have to decide whether your primary goal in playing is to get a lot of small payouts or whether you are willing to settle for fewer small payouts in the hope of getting a huge payout.
The state, province, or country where you play is another consideration. The applicable laws dictating the minimum payouts slot machines are required to have vary from one location to another. Within the U.S., each state has its own specific state laws which every casino in the state must abide by. For example, in New Jersey, the minimum RTP is 83%, while in Nevada it is only 75%. Most land-based slot machines pay in the 82% to 98% range.
Online slots typically have a higher RTP than the slots in brick and mortar casinos. In most reputable online casinos, that figure is at least 95% for all slots combined and frequently higher, so look for that information to be published on the website. You can also conduct your own online research for different slot games. Then play the games that are stated by the manufacturers to have the highest payouts. If the RTP on an online slot game is less than 96%, don’t bother with it. You can do better.