There are countless myths and superstitions that circulate about slot machines, most of which aren’t based in reality.
Out there on the internet, there are plenty of “strategies”, “theories”, and “tips” for playing slots that are plain BS.
I get it, everyone wants to give themselves the best chance to win, but ultimately that comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
There is little, if anything, players can do to influence their chances on slot games.
I wanted to run through, and in most cases debunk, common slot machine myths and superstitions.
Related: 95+ Free things to do in Vegas – A complete guide.
Slot Machine Myths
Can casinos change the slot payback percentage while you are playing?
No. While casinos in Las Vegas can adjust payback percentages on server-based machines remotely, there are certain rules they must follow.
The Nevada Gaming Commission states “Once a game is initiated by a player on a gaming device, the rules of play for that game, including the probability and award of a game outcome, cannot be changed.” They can’t change rules or that machine’s payback percentage while you play.
Slot machines in Nevada must sit idle for 4 minutes before an adjustment to payback percentage or game rules can be made. When a change is made, the machine must be taken out of play with a message displayed on the screen noting an update is taking place. The machine then must sit idle for an additional 4 minutes after the change before play is allowed.
Older machines that are not server-based cannot be updated from the backroom and require operators to open up the machine and replace a computer chip to adjust the payback percentage. A much more cumbersome process.
If you’re running hot and the machine suddenly goes cold, there is no tomfoolery going on – just bad luck.
Does using a player’s card affect payback?
No. Slot machines use a random number generator (RNG) to determine the outcome on any given spin. The RNG is continuously generating random outcomes in the background until a player presses spin, which locks in what the outcome will ultimately be.
Using a player’s card simply allows the house to track your play and doesn’t affect payback percentage, or game odds in any way.
Does playing with free play affect payback?
No. The same RNG is still churning out combinations in the background. A player using free play is no more or less likely to win than one playing with cash.
Someone hit a jackpot after you stepped away. Would you have won it had you stayed?
No. You’ve heard the horror stories though. A slot player gets up to use the restroom and come back to see someone else playing their machine. Worse yet, the new player hit big.
Would that have been your jackpot if you would have stayed? Most likely not. The RNG turns out hundreds of combinations per second in the background and the outcome is locked in when the spin button is pushed. You would have had to hit spin the exact millisecond the new player did to obtain the same outcome. Very unlikely.
Is a machine that just hit a jackpot less likely to hit again?
No. The machine’s random number generator has no memory. Each spin is an independent event providing an equal chance of hitting a jackpot.
Is a cold slot machine “due” to hit?
No. Like the slot myth above, the nature of the random number generator dictates that every spin is a random and independent event from previous spins on that machine. There is no such thing as a machine that is “due”.
Are slots programmed to be looser or tighter depending on day of the week or time of day?
No. Although slot payback percentages can be tightened/loosened by operators within the gaming commission’s guidelines, they are not going through the effort of adjusting payback percentages that often.
Does pulling the handle gives you a better chance than pushing spin?
No. Regardless of how you go about it, you are simply stopping the random number generator which is constantly churning out combinations in the background. How you spin the reels does not affect your game odds one bit.
Can online classes make you more likely to win?
There are a number of “hucksters” that have garnered a following on platforms like YouTube that prey on folks that aspire to win money playing slots.
Don’t fall for it.
Not only are their “tips” and “strategies” utter nonsense, but their paid online courses are a waste of money. Steer clear.
Look, most of us are going to lose money playing slots. Treat it as entertainment. Have fun. Play within your budget.
Slot Machine Myths That Have Some Truth To Them
Do some casinos have looser slots than others?
Yes. In and around Las Vegas, slots in tourist centers like the Strip or on Fremont Street are tighter than slots in North Las Vegas or Boulder per statistics reported to the Nevada Gaming Commission. We parsed through the data to help you find slots more likely to pay out.
Keep in mind, even at “looser” casinos, the odds are still stacked against you.
Does a machine’s denomination affect your odds?
Yes. According to slot hold data from the Nevada Gaming Commission, there is a correlation between denomination and payback percentage. Generally speaking, the higher the denomination, the more player-friendly the game.
At the end of the day, slot machines are a game of chance that favors the house. There is nothing you can do to improve your odds on a given device beyond getting lucky and hitting the spin button at the exact right time. Good luck!
See also: Vegas pools locals and non-guests can access – For free or a small fee.
I’m a former software salesman turned Vegas aficionado. While the craps table is my preferred habitat, I pull myself away to explore new attractions, shows, restaurants, and outdoor activities around Las Vegas with the intent of sharing my experiences.
Ultimately, I just want to help folks plan a better trip and save a few bucks in the process.