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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Which casino workers know when a slot machine is ready to hit?

25 March 2013

Question: Can slot attendants or hosts tell which machines in a casino are hot or ready to hit the jackpot?

Answer: Slot results are random. Machines have neither hot or cold modes, nor predetermined points at which jackpots are paid. Casino personnel may see and remember series dominated by winning spins, or several high-return combinations hitting within short spans. But such events don't anticipate what will happen next.

Casino typically have a variety of machines of the same denomination, some "looser" or "more liberal" than others. These return higher fractions of the money bet and are, arguably, best to play. But you'd need a statistical analysis of millions of spins on each machine to tell which is which – a task requiring computerized data collection and processing.

Some slots have higher "hit rates" than others, paying smaller amounts more often. An especially assiduous attendant or host might be able to identify these machines. Higher hit rates offer more playing time for your money, a reasonable goal. They don't help anyone determined to go for broke, who won't quit with a modest profit.

The most useful fact alert slot attendants or hosts can provide is when progressive jackpots are above normal. This doesn't mean a greater chance of being hit. In principle, it says effective payback percentage is elevated – possibly over 100 percent. In practice it implies that if you do score, the amount will exceed what you could have expected based purely on chances of success.
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.