Slot Machine B.S.

wrong info published by others

Last update: April, 2018.


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My slot myths page covers commonly-held beliefs about slots that aren't true.  This page, the B.S. page, covers misinformation published by others, such as on other websites.  Other writers want to appear authoritative so they just make $#!† up, or they hear some B.S. elsewhere and pass it along as though it were true, without bothering to verify it.

The Travel Channel

I caught these while listening to the Travel Channel in Aug. 2004.  The quotes aren't exact but they're pretty close.

"The best odds in the casino are the dollar slot machines.   After that, craps gives you the best chances of winning."

They're way off the mark.  Blackjack, craps, baccarat, single-zero roulette, video poker, and many other games give better odds than the typical dollar slot machine.  My calculator puts the lie to the Travel Channel's claim.

Turn your phone sideways for a better calculator!
Average Loss Calculator
Game Rounds / Rolls
Per Hour
Bet per round House Edge Average Avg. Loss for
hour(s) hrs
of play
Slots $ 
Roulette $ 
Video Poker $ 
Baccarat $ 
Craps $ 
Blackjack $ 
These are mathematical averages based on infinite play.  You could lose more or less.
Play online casino games with fake money!  It's better than losing real money.

"Most slot machines are set to a 75% payback."
-- The Travel Channel, as per above

This one is extra wrong.  In fact, almost no slot machine is set that low.  The typical range is around 88-97%.  Most local jurisdictions require a much higher minimum than 75%, and even in the absence of such laws, almost no casino would dare set its paybacks that low, because they wouldn't get any repeat business if they did.  Even nickel video slots at Harry Reid Airport in Vegas, which has the worst odds in the city, pay in the mid-80's.

Gambling Magazine

"If you aren't playing max coins, you're gambling very poorly.  If the maximum number of coins seems too expensive (for example, $3 on a $1 slot), move to a lower denomination slot."

"If you don't feel comfortable playing the maximum coins you should drop to a lower coinage.  Play the quarters instead of dollars."

"My advice is to fill the machine with the maximum amount of coins and play every available payline.  If you find yourself at a machine that is out of your budget then move on to a smaller denomination machine..."

First off, the difference in the payback between single- and full-coin is often tiny.  In one version of Red White & Blue, it's a mere 0.3%.  Second, by playing full coin, you'll simply lose more, because you're betting more.  Finally, downgrading to a lower denomination just so you can afford to bet full coin is counter-productive, because lower-denomination machines have worse odds than the higher-denomination machines.  You'll generally have a better chance of winning by playing only one coin on the higher stakes slot. (more...)  On the other hand, it's a good idea to play lower stakes machines simply because you're wagering less and you'll likely lose less money, even though the odds are worse.

[Alludes to the highest return on a slot being 97%.]

Stratosphere and Riviera in Vegas advertised 98% slots.  At Fitzgeralds in Vegas and Reno they advertised a couple of machines with pays slightly over 100% (but of course, they're not telling you which ones).  (link)

"There are plenty worse gambles in the casino.  Take a stroll down to the keno lounge or wheel of fortune, make some of the proposition bets at craps, make idiot plays at blackjack, bet a parlay at the sports book.  An average loose machine pays better than roulette."

Keno. While keno has a higher house edge than slots, slot machines definitely suck your money away faster. (Slots: 25¢/spin 700 spins/hr. x 6% edge = $10.50/hr. loss.  Keno: $1 game x 7 games/hr x 28% edge = $1.96/hr. loss.)

Wheel of Fortune. He's clumsily referring to the Big Six game, not the Wheel of Fortune slot.  Anyway, just like with Keno, the house edge is higher, but the faster play on slots means that slots lose way more of your money.

"Idiot plays at blackjack".  Even pretty poor plays at blackjack don't come close to approaching the house edge of slots.  Unless you're hitting 17's (who does that?), blackjack is clearly the better bet.

"Average loose slot pays better than roulette".  First, what in the world is an "average loose machine", and how can you find them, since the casinos don't disclose the looseness or tightness of their machines?  And just as with the other games, the faster play of slots sucks your money away faster, even if your machine has a lower house edge.

"[Casinos often] put their better-paying 'hot slots' in heavy-traffic, highly visible locations, with room for crowds to gather and cheer winners on. Such locations include crosswalks, elevated carousels, and banks of slots near the casino bar, lounges, change booth, and coffee shop."

The writer is just blindly repeating a claim that was made in a 1994 book which was suspect even when it was published, and evidence that's come to light since then suggests that it's not true. (more...)

I've had an public challenge of $5000 to those who claim that location matters:  They pick a "good" location for their machine and a "bad" location for mine, and after 3000 spins we see who's ahead.  In over a decade of it being offered, nobody has ever accepted this challenge.

Staff supposedly knows which are the hot machines

"Ask an employee in the slots area which machine is the best to play (based on how often they have noticed people winning at it).  Offer them a percentage of your profit for pointing you in the right direction." (

"Ask the staff.  You have waitresses, coin attendants, and the machine attendants who do nothing but watch the slots all day.  They will know best the machines that payoff more than others or which machines are due for a large jackpot." (Gambling Magazine)

First, no machine is ever "due" for a jackpot.  Jackpots don't become more likely just because they haven't hit for a while.

Second, simply working around slots doesn't give the ability to magically sense which ones have a slightly higher payback.  The volatility is so high that you can't get a feel for which machines pay out better even if you work with them day in and day out.

Incidentally, a high-paying slot doesn't give the jackpot more frequently; it gives the small returns more frequently.

"The strategy calls for picking one Online Slot Machine. Spend an hour playing at different times during the day or night.  You might find that some slot machines fall into a payout cycle and they tend to pay off around the same time every day or every couple of days."

It doesn't matter when you play.  There is no such thing as a payout cycle.  The results are always random.  Random, random, random -- that's how slot machines work.  (More on how they work...)


Their article is such a festering pile of crap I'm not even going to bother.  The only reason I mention WikiHow is so I can point out that it's an exceptionally unreliable source of information in general, not just about slots.  Avoid WikiHow (and its ilk) at all costs.

Seen some B.S.?

Seen some B.S. in a supposedly authoritative source, or seen something published and are wondering whether it's b.s.?  Let me know, and don't forget the link to the original source.

Play slots online

I suggest you play something other than slots because slot odds are so bad.  You could also play online with fake money, because then it doesn't matter if you lose.  A good casino for free-play is Bovada, since it requires no download and no registration.  (If you see a registration box, you can close it and continue without registering.)  You can play with real money too, though I hope you won't (or at least won't bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose). (advertisement)

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Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

You can play Bovada's games (below) right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's the main reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  (When you see the registration box, you can cancel it and proceed to the game without registering.)

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