Slot Machines

It is often asked why people play the slot machines against such a disadvantage, when slot machines earn more money for the house than any table game. The answer seems to be that some people are just attracted by the simplicity of the game, with no complicated rules of play, or betting strategies to learn. Others, drawn by the impersonal nature of the game, enjoy the interaction between a player and a machine. Still others play the slots simply to pass the time. A typical scene in every casino is the large number of retired people attracted by the one-armed bandits, and sometimes progressive machines, that pay off tens of thousands for a quarter. They give these retirees a run for their money. Las Vegas has some machines featuring a 97% return, 97 cents out of every dollar being returned to the players, leaving the casino an advantage of only 3%.

Contrary to popular belief, the casino's edge does not decrease, the longer you play any given machine. I have seen players feed money into a slot for hours, waiting for a jackpot to hit, believing it's overdue. It just doesn't work that way. The three or four reels inside the machine could hit two jackpots in succession just as easily as going for hundreds of cycles with no jackpot at all, but it is still good to know that some machines are set to pay more money than others. The legal minimum in New Jersey is 83%, but some machines will pay 85-to-90% of all the money played as winnings. Watch the other players and see if you can find one, or ask around; the machine attendants and other players are often friendly enough that they may point one out.

In some casinos, the machines nearest the doorway seem to pay off more jackpots. This is to entice the passersby to come on in and try their luck. With some machines, to get the higher drop, you have to play five coins at a time. Playing five coins in the Jennings machines at both Resorts and Caesars gives you more payoff combinations. You win more often, but you are risking more of your bankroll. If your bankroll is small, it will usually last longer, even with the smaller return, if you play one coin at a time. Only you can decide whether you want the action, or the longer duration of play.

Almost all slot players lose a far greater portion of their bankroll than the 17% edge held by the house, because they add their winnings to their bank and keep right on playing until all, or almost all, of it is gone. If you have to play the slots, common money-management advice would be this: Buy as many rolls of coins as you are willing to risk, and as you play, put all the winnings in your pocket. When you lose the last coin in the last roll, quit! Over a period of time, you will bring home 83% of the money you start with, by far a better result than the expectation of the average player. And who knows? From time to time, you might hit a jackpot and quit a big winner.

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