CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

What's the Best Time to Change Machines or Tables?

10 December 1996

You've been playing for what seems like an eternity. Other than the odd up-blip, staged as a teaser by greedy gambling gods, it's been a disaster. You could take a break, maybe call it a day.

But, say you want to keep on trucking. You're emotionally prepared for downswings. You have the time and bankroll to tough it out. Perhaps you stay put, figuring it's been bad so long the law of averages has to make things better. Or maybe you move, thinking your machine or table is stuck in a cold rut. Which? When?

Sorry. There's no way to way to know whether a past cold streak is at an end or has barely begun. No way to know whether, let alone when, it's best to change tables or machines. No pattern of previous results forecasts a turnaround or a rout. And no money management rules enhance your luck by fixing session loss limits.


Sure, nearly every craps player recalls cold games. When the dice circled the table with nobody making a point or even hitting a number before missing-out. Such disasters foster beliefs that something about the dice, the dealers, or the other shooters can somehow freeze a table into an iceberg. Games in which this happens "prove" the theory. Series of miss-outs followed by long rolls don't put the lie to the notion that some situations are inherently cold, they just indicate choppy or even hot tables.

Likewise, nearly every frequent blackjack player avoids particular dealers. Nothing personal. It's because the players are positive these dealers never break, or get all the blackjacks, or shuffle in a way that always gives the bettors fives or sixes and saves the tens for themselves. Cold shoes "prove" these dealers are dangerous. Shoes in which the same dealers give away the store are exceptions which don't invalidate the rule.

And, of course, nearly every slot player is convinced the machines run in cycles. For instance, they think some slots start cold and build toward a climax. Or that certain machines give new players a few good returns, then turn bad. Here's a lulu. I was told that if a poker machine is set for a big payout and someone hits a one-coin royal, smart players start pumping the maximum number of coins. Why? Because another jackpot is needed to keep the payouts on schedule. Machines which yield a few biggies over a relatively short span "prove" the concept. Single-coin jackpots not quickly followed by monster scores don't refute it, but are just cases when the machines were only programmed for small hits.

You can look back on a losing session and find when you wish you had gone elsewhere. You can't identify these points in the present or predict them in the future.

You can also look around a casino and find machines where bells are ringing or tables where solid citizens are hooting and hollering. But, had you been there, the theory of chaos says the game wouldn't have been the same. On the machine, you'd be punching buttons or pulling the handle at different instants so the random number generator would produce unlike results. At a table, an additional or even an alternate player would affect the flow of the game in an unpredictable way.

Fortunately, the cloud has a silver lining. The chances you'll go from bad to worse, cut your losses, recover, or even surge into the profit zone, aren't affected by whether you stay or move.

So if you don't like to second-guess your fate, stay. If you feel you're exerting control and your attitude improves by changing location, move. And if you're going to switch, the right time is when you catch yourself getting disgusted. Before you say something you'll later regret to another player or to a casino employee. Before you do something stupid like put the balance of your bankroll at risk on one last desperate make-or-break bet.

If you're going to hang on to your gloom, staying or moving, both are wrong. Quitting would then be best. As the bard of betting behavior, Sumner A Ingmark, sagely said:

Optimists' victories can't be willed,
Pessimists' losses are self-fulfilled.

Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.