Slot Machine Question

I enjoy going to the casino every once in a while, i go mainly for the entertainment rather than a means of making money, but its always more fun if you are on the winning ends of things.

What slot machine has the best odds, the old time ones that have the 7s and BARs, or the newer ones where you can play mainly lines.

Seems to me like there is less possible combinations in the old fashioned games.

However in the newer ones you have the power of numbers, for example playing 25 lines probably gives you a better probability of hitting something than just playing the 1.

I know, slot machines are fixed…to a certain degree, they still need to be fairly random to be legal. Arent they all equipped with a RNG (Random Number Generater)?

Modern slot machines are now simply random number generators with fancy graphics. Many don’t even have an arm anymore, and almost none clink out coins when you win.
Generally the best odds are dollar and five-dollar machines. They’re still bad. I’m not sure about the nickel machines that let you play 50 lines or whatever.

I’ve read a handful of gambling writers on slot machines. I’m not even sure why, as I don’t like playing slot machines; I guess I just like reading about probability and gambling.

Anyway, some writers theorize that the slot machines with the best odds are the ones along the back walls of casinos, or in the least-busy areas of the gaming rooms. Seriously. The theory is that casino guides publish the average payout percentage for all machines in a casino. That average payout is weighted equally with respect to machines–but if you can get your patrons to play the low-odd machines more frequently, your true average payout is lower, and so your profit margin is higher. So these writers claim that casinos put the good machines in low-traffic areas, and the bad machines in high-traffic areas. I have no idea if there is any truth to this, but it seems to be a common meme in gambling writing.

Yes, all modern slot machines have an RNG. You might find an old-timey machine in a museum, but since at least the 70’s electronic machines have pushed out the old mechanical ones, even in slot machines that have physical reels.

Slots are a sucker bet, generally speaking. Fun to play, but they call them “one armed bandits” for a reason. I like slots, and will usually play some of the penny slots when I’m too tired/drunk to concentrate on table games. I’ll also play the dollar slots when I’m using “free play”–the casinos I use send me monthly mailers with comp rooms, “free play”, meals, etcs. “Free play” is credit in a set dollar amount on my players card. I insert the card in the machine, and punch in a code to access a menu and spend as much or as little of my “free play” allowance at that machine as I wish.

Casino gambling is really not that expensive as entertainment goes. I’m good enough at blackjack that I can play for hours for a $100 buy in most of the time. During that time, the casino will give me all the booze I can drink, and give me a free meal when I’m done playing. Hotel room is also free. The only way to get those kind of perks is to sign up for a “players card” at every casino you visit, and always either put that card in the machine if playign slots, or present it with your buy in at a table game. After you build up some history of play, you’ll get offers for similar perks in the mail…or you can ask the pit boss for meals, etc after you’ve played at a table for a while.

For table games, I play blackjack and three card poker. Simple games, with fairly simple strategies freely available on the web. Playing conservatively, of course. I usually play at the lowest limit table I can find…often $5 per hand at the places I go.

[quote=“Duke, post:3, topic:465010”]

Anyway, some writers theorize that the slot machines with the best odds are the ones along the back walls of casinos, or in the least-busy areas of the gaming rooms.


I remember reading on one gambling website (dont know which one) that stated the best slot machines are actually in the areas of the casino with the highest traffic, so more people catch a glimpse of someone winning, so they go out on the gaming floor and spend more.

There is no reasonable way to determine which slot machines have the best odds. Poker machines don’t deal you random cards. They deal you cards based on a random number generator, which interacts with programming that tells it exactly what percentage the machine will pay out over its lifetime.

Some places will advertise “99% payout” machines. That means that some machines are programmed to pay out 99 cents for every 1.00 dollar gambled in the machine, over the lifetime of that machine. There is no way to tell which machines are programmed at what percentage. Places that advertise those higher payout machines are not obligated to tell you WHICH machines are programmed to have better odds. It’s a marketing gimmick.

This is one of the reasons that you will never see advertising for a slot machine anywhere in Las Vegas that claims to do anything “random”. The machines are programmed to keep a certain percentage of all the money fed to it, and the rest is just a fancy interface.

Short answer: some machines do have higher odds, for marketing purposes. There is no way to tell which machines have higher odds, and the style or type of machine or the particular game it plays has nothing to do with it.

I don’t think that’s true. And there’s no reason why it would need to be that complicated. If the odds of being dealt a full house (using perfectly randomly shuffled cards) is 10:1, and the machine pays you 9:1, then the house will be able to predict precisely how much they will pay out, without resorting to programming tricks.

Some poker machines with the same interface and jackpots will have different payout percentages. It is a common gimmick for casinos to advertise 99% payout at a row of machines that are all exactly the same game. Only one machine is programmed for 99% payout.

There’s nothing complicated about it. Developing a random number generator to force a particular payout percentage isn’t any harder than developing a random number generator to decide which card to deal you.

I think you’re confusing slots and poker machines. The poker machine payback percentage is completely driven by the pay table (and they do vary – you can find a machine that pays 9:1 for a full house right next to a machine that pays 8:1). I’ve never seen a poker machine (and trust me, I’ve seen many many) that advertised a percent payback, like slots do.

There’s a big difference between poker machines and slot machines. Poker machines have the payout percentage listed on each machine where slot machines are anybody’s guess.

With poker there are a set number of cards per deck so the odds of drawing a particular hand are fixed. When you chose and draw there are 25 different combinations to choose and draw from. In order for a machine to predetermine a start and finish hand it would have to calculate 55 cards per deck instead of 52, impossible without a repeating card. Calculating multiple decks also carries the risk of a repeating card so that’s out.

When you hit play on a poker machine (at least one that meets Nevada Gaming standards) it picks five cards at random out of 52. The remaining 47 cards cycle at random in the background waiting for your next pick and when you hit the draw button what ever cards are in the cycle come up.

The house edge comes in the payoff table. Compairing the odds of any hand divided by 25 to accomidate the draw against the pay table listed on the machine will show that the payouts diminish rapidly as the odds increase. There is a formula for calculating payout percentages on any particular poker machine using the pay table but I can’t remember it and my books are at home. I’ll have to post it later. In any case once the odds are compaired to the payout percentages for each hand the machine shows what it’s overall payout is. A lot of times it is between 95% and 102%.

On slots, there is no way of knowing how many of what number is on the wheel or in the programming and thus no way of knowing exactly what the payoff percentage is. Like video poker the combination is chosen at random at the start of play, all of the bells and whistles and such are just for show. But unlike poker, you don’t know how many symbols you are starting out with, what the odds of a particular combination of symbols are and more important, you only have one shot at it instead of 25 potential shots per bet.

The casino however knows exactly how many bars and sevens are on those wheels and exactly what the odds of a particular combination are. As long as the payout can be determined the house can design the pay table to produce any overall percentage it wishes. Again they will try to keep it between 95% and 102% on different machines, but location is a factor. I have read about casinos putting high paying machines off the beaten path and about casinos who may put one or two of their highest paying machines right up front as a hook.

Another thing to think about is where in the bank the best machines are. Look around a casino floor, how many people are playing two machines at once? Casinos know this habit and may (or may not) place higher percentage machines next to lower percentage machines to balance things out.

Bottom line is, slot machines are a suckers bet and the lower the “cost” the worse the overall odds are. How many people would never dream of betting $5 on a single slot machine spin on a $1 machine but will bet 120 nickles against the same or worse odds on a nickle machine?

The best thing you can do as a video gambler is make sure to get and use the players club cards. The comps might not seem like much but even a free steak dinner could mean the difference between coming off at 98% or 105% in the end.

You are right. I will have to check in my books when I get home but IIRC a good video poker player will look at the full house / straight payouts to determine if a machine is worth playing or not. Most machines have a 4000 payout on a royal with 5 coins, the rest is negotiable. A 9:1 full house / 6:1 straight (a 9/6 machine) is pretty good, an 8/6 is about average while a 9/5 is pretty crappy. The other numbers can vary as well but it is usually the middle payouts that determine the overall percentage of the machine.

This is all by memory, I’ll look it up when I get home tonight.

ETA: And of course, achieving the maximum payout on a machine is based on making absolutely flawless choices when determining what to hold and what to discard. The counter intuitive ones are what makes the games fun for me.

Agreed. And here’s the regulation:

*Nevada Gaming Commission Regulation 14.040: "Minimum Standards for Gaming Devices"
(2)(b) - For gaming devices that are representative of live gambling games, the mathematical probability of a symbol or other element appearing in a game outcome must be equal to the mathematical probability of that symbol or element occurring in the live gambling game. *

So it seems that, at least in LV, Mosier is mistaken.

ETA: You can look it up yourself here.

Of course you know that the casinos make millions every year out of slot machines, so you are not likely to win on them.

Both times I’ve gone to Vegas, I’ve played low-stake poker (Texas Hold’em).
Sure the casino takes a cut of each pot, but you’re playing against people with a proper atmosphere - not pressing buttons on a machine by yourself.
And I’m ahead so far (not by much, but at least I could use some skill!)

In my experience, the only people who win at slots are the people on either side of me. I’d be happy to play next to you if you’ll cover my losses.

I just love how everyone who talks about going to Las Vegas or Atlantic City always says they came back a little ahead. This is why I never gamble. I just know that since you guys always win, I’ll be the sucker who loses enough to build those multi-million dollar casinos.

I really don’t know a lot about casinos having only played once at Foxwood in Connecticut.

I lost $30 in no time at all and called it a day. As I was leaving with friends we were each handed a token which entitled us to a free dinner.

That steak sure helped me get over the pain of losing my dosh:D

I’ve never been to Vegas or Atlantic City, but I am making a casino trip to Tunica, MS next weekend. I’ll probably take $500 gambling money with me.

While I’m there, I will receive:

2 weekend nights in the casino hotel, regular price $95+, my cost = 0.

3-4 fine meals at either the casino buffets or restuarants, retail cost $18 for Friday/Saturday night buffets, +$10 or so per lunch/brunch meal. My cost = 0.

All the booze I can drink, and I will be drinking heavily both nights. Figuring doing the same in a bar would cost me about $5/drink, lets figure $75 worth of booze, my cost = 0.

Entertainment by a live band–dunno what cost value to assign, but I will pay nothing for it.

Probably about 15+ hours of various forms of gambling entertainment.

I may get laid if I happen to meet someone so inclined.

Adding the perks up, I get rooms @ $180 + meals @ let’s say $50 + booze @ $75 = $305 worth of goods/services for showing up and gambling. I have never left a casino with none of my original stake in my pocket. Figure I have a run of bad luck and walk away with only $150 of my $500 left. Not counting gas to get there, the whole weekend really cost me $45 in gambling losses.

Now, from the casino point of view, they make a little more than that…the perks they give me do not cost them the values I assigned. They probably make $150 or so they’d consider profit on the deal.

Granted, at the end of the weekend, I’ll actually have $350 fewer dollars than I have now, but in my mind, I got good value for my money. And there have been trips where I’ve actually left the casino with more money in my pocket than I had when I got there. That doesn’t happen often…say maybe 1 in 4 trips or so.

Obviously, this isn’t something I can do every weekend–but 4-5 trips per year isn’t so bad. I enjoy doing it, and I can afford it.

That’s true for games that represent live gambling games. This covers games in which a machine has replaced a live dealer, which some casinos are using for games like roulette and live poker. Games like video poker do NOT represent any live gambling game. Live poker is a completely different game, with different rules and payouts that are unrelated to video poker machines. It might be hard to understand exactly what the difference is, but if you were in a live casino that had installed a machine to replace a live dealer it would make a lot more sense.

IIRC, slot machines have a payback schedule, such as 95%. If you stayed there forever, every $100 that you put in, you would get $95 in return. I believe Casinos have to provide the payback schedule if it is not already promoted.

But every hour at the slot machine is not the same. it might pay out $200/$100 for one hour and make it up by going $80/100 for the next 10 hours.

the trick of course is to find out when it is paying out the $200/$100 ratio.

Typcally, dollar slots have a better payout than quarter slots. ($5 and $10 slots have even better payouts, but who can afford to play $5 and $10 slots?)

Slot machines with big jackpots will appear to be “cold”. At a dollar machine and after 100 pulls, the odds of coming out ahead on a huge jackpot machine is less than a machine whose biggest jackpot is $250. …But if you happen to the the one in ten million at the Wheel of Fortune machine…woo hoo:D

I see three problems with this assertion.

  1. The regulation at issue was adopted in July 1989, when video poker was exploding in popularity. I do not know of any casinos that had replaced their roulette or live poker tables with computers in 1989.

  2. In my opinion, you would be hard pressed to convince your state’s gaming commission that the cards in your video poker machine do not represent playing cards from a standard 52-card deck. Even if you maintain that this regulation was not intended for video poker, it will still be applied to it. (And anyway, if you read through the unexpurgated regulation, you can see that is plainly intended to include video poker, though it does not mention it by name. - “gaming devices that may be affected by player skill…”)

  3. On a personal note that borders on anecdotal (so use as much salt as you wish): IANA gaming lawyer, but my gaming law professor (who practiced in New Jersey, where I suppose the law might be different) once explained that in every casino in America, an electronic representation of a playing card must behave like a real playing card mathematically. I tried to find the regulation to back him up, and lo, I believe I did (for NV at least).