THE BEST SLOT
Everyone who has ever played slots for at least five
minutes seems to feel that they are qualified to find the best
"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.
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
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
The location within the casino is also important for many
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
Obviously, talking to the machine or even caressing it,
is not likely to have any effect on a computer chip controlled
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
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.
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
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.
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.
15. Comparison of
High and Low Frequency Slots
High Frequency Payoffs
Low Frequency Payoffs
of Total Paid Out
of Total Paid Out
If we look at the payoff schedules on these two machines,
we don't have much of a clue as to which is the higher or lower
frequency machine. Both
machines have similar payoffs, and both machines will ultimately
pay back 95% of the coins played.
Having the benefit of using this table, we can see that
the high frequency payer will return a higher percentage of the
coins played on the payoffs of 20 coins or less. If we add the payoff percentages for all payoffs of 20 coins
or less on the high and low payoff machines, we find that 94% of
the payoffs on the high frequency version are for payoffs of 2,
10 or 20 coins, while only 77% of the low frequency machine
payoffs are for 2, 5, 10 and 15 coin payoffs.
For our purposes, the machine paying 94% of its payoffs
on payoffs ranging from 2 to 20 coins is the better machine, as
it is more likely that we will hit one or more of these payoffs
in short-term play. While
the lower frequency machine returns exactly the same overall
payback of 95%, it accomplishes this by making fewer lower coin
payouts and concentrating a higher amount of its payback in the
less frequently hit jackpot payoff of 1,000 coins.
In short-term play, we are not likely to ever hit the
jackpot payoff. Since
18% of the slot's overall payback is represented by this
jackpot, in simple terms, by not hitting the jackpot, our return
will be reduced by 18%, a large percentage of the expected
We discussed locations of slots in a general way in the
previous chapter. We
found that the best paying slots are located in the state of
Nevada, and on the average, the lowest paying slots are in
Atlantic City. Of
course this is from your and my perspective.
If you owned a casino, you would prefer the lower payout
Atlantic City slots.
Another aspect of finding the best slot machine is
picking the best casino in the best location.
Unfortunately, casinos are not very forthright on their
exact hold percentages so that this task is not always that
We can, however, refine our selection process somewhat
without knowing the exact hold percentage of each casino.
First, we know that we should confine our play to
casinos. Grocery stores, service stations, bars, airports and other
non casino locations often have paybacks of from 50% to 75%.
Your money will disappear very quickly if you decide to
regularly play the slots at Joe's All-Nite Market.
Needless to say, you should stick with legal
slot machines. If
you decide to play illegal slots, who knows what extortion will
be enacted on you. And
you will have little recourse if you are cheated.
The airport slots at McCarran International Airport are
notoriously tight, although I have been known to play them on
occasion to enjoy a diversion not usually found in the airports
of the world. An
elderly neighbor of my mother had an interesting experience at
the Las Vegas airport. His
plane was already boarding when he hit a $100 jackpot on a
quarter machine. Realizing that he did not have time to change the coins into
bills, he began stuffing the quarters into every pocket he had.
When he finally waddled onto the plane, with quarters
bulging in every pocket, his pants fell down from the weight of
the quarters. The
entire plane gave him a round of applause.
There are many theories about where the best machines are
located in casinos. Some
players believe that machines located at the end of aisle hold
the key to fame and fortune, while others will swear by
different locations. If
you have ever read about slots, it is likely that you were
treated to the author's pet theories about where the best
To try to separate truth from fiction, I devised a simple
experimental approach. Playing
with a group of friends who agreed to participate in the
experiment, we played a number of casinos systematically and
recorded the results. In
order to limit the number of variables for each trip to a
casino, we played only the same denomination machines, e.g.
nickel, quarter, dollar or five dollar machines.
Our only variation in these experiments was the location
of the slots in the casinos.
Each trial was at least at hour long, each player used
the same session bankroll, and each player played at roughly the
same speed. Over the years, I was able to accumulate a number of these
admittedly deficient in a number of ways (for example we played
on slots manufactured by different companies, rather than same
company slots, and all of our trips were to Las Vegas so that we
didn't "sample" other slot venues), I feel that the
results clearly indicate a pattern of placement of slots by the
We refined the terms "loose and tight" to
include three categories of machines:
Loose machines were those whose estimated paybacks were
Middle paying machines paid out at from 93—96%.
Tight slots paid out less than 93% of the coins played.
apply these criteria to different slot denominations.
chapter continues and with specific information about where the
best paying slots are found.
Read about it in Super
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