I recently discovered Professor Slots’ website, and went in expecting to debunk his advice. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he seems more legit than most gambling experts. His credentials as a professor are impressive, even though none of them qualify him to explain how to win at slot machines consistently.
Regular readers here already know that you can’t beat slot machines consistently. They’re negative expectation games, and you can’t overcome the math.
Advice on the games is more or less equally worthless. If you play any negative expectation game long enough, you’ll eventually lose all your money.
But I thought today it would be fun to look at some of the specific advice on Jon Friedl’s site to see what’s worthwhile and what’s trickier.
Win, Walk Away, and Return Later
To get started, I just went into the blog and clicked on the slots strategies category. The first post that came up was titled “Slots Strategy 7: Win, Walk Away, Return Later.”
I have a feeling I know how this strategy is going to work, but I’m reading the post anyway, so we’ll have something to discuss.
He starts off by explaining that this is his mainstay strategy and that casinos now have several possible setups for their real money slots games. He suggests that most casinos now have all their slot machines connected to some kind of centralized computer that controls the odds on all the machines in the casino.
He also suggests that the casino can tune their financial performance throughout the day.
The Law of Large Numbers suggests that casinos have no need to “tune their financial performance” throughout the day. They’re dealing with tens and hundreds of thousands of slot machine spins per day. The average slots player makes 500 spins per hour; if you have 20 gamblers on the floor on average, you’ll see 10,000 spins per hour.
And when’s the last time you saw a casino with as few as 20 gamblers on the floor at a time?
The point is that when you’re dealing with those kinds of numbers, there’s no need to adjust payouts on the slots daily. At the end of the month, you’re going to see the kinds of revenue numbers you’d expect.
Details of the Strategy
Friedl suggests you begin by getting clear about what your gambling goals are. This sounds familiar. I suspect he might have read some of my other blog posts.
His goals include learning, winning money, and getting free stuff.
The first part of his strategy for that is to play high-limit slot machine games. He would play games where he needed to make 2, 3, or 5 coin bets per spin on $5 or $10 machines.
He was putting $20 to $25 in action per spin.
And he was playing Wheel of Fortune slots, but he refuses to say WHICH Wheel of Fortune slots games he was playing.
He talks a lot about cycling bankrolls and brags about how much he’s winning in casino comps, then he finally gets to the meat of his strategy:
Play until you win a decent-sized jackpot. Once you’ve done so, leave the casino and go home.
What You Do Next and Why
A week later, come back and play the same machine – starting 5 to 10 minutes before the time you won the jackpot the prior week.
He claims that the casinos are adjusting the odds on the machines daily to meet the financial performance metrics required by law in their jurisdiction. This is why the strategy works.
The idea is that you’re going to find specific slot machines that get their payouts adjusted on one particular day during the week.
This means that sometimes machines have better odds of winning than at other times.
Here’s my opinion:
Casinos don’t need to adjust the payouts on their games based on the time of day or how their finances are doing. The Law of Large Numbers and the difference between the payouts and the probabilities of winning handles that for you.
Here’s How Slot Machines Work
A slot machine is programmed with a probability of getting each symbol on a stop, and each symbol might have a different likelihood of coming up. For example, you might have a 1/10 chance of getting a cherry on a reel stop.
This means that the probability of getting 3 cherries in a row on a 3-reel slot machine is 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10, or 1/1000.
If that combination pays off at 500 for 1, it’s easy to see how the casino makes a significant profit.
On average, every time you make 1000 spins, you’ll win 500 coins, but you’ll also lose 500 coins.
The casino doesn’t need to “adjust” anything to make a profit.
And they don’t have to do anything to achieve their financial requirements, either.
The way probability works is this:
In the short run – on a single spin, a dozen spins, or even 100 spins – anything can happen. The game is random, after all.
But in the long run – over the course of thousands of spins – the Law of Large Numbers suggests that your overall results will resemble the mathematically predicted results.
These games don’t run in cycles. The odds of winning don’t change based on how long it’s been since the last jackpot was hit. If the odds are 1/1000 that you’ll win a jackpot, and you hit that jackpot, the odds of winning that jackpot again on the next spin are also 1/1000.
The Gambler’s Fallacy suggests that past results affect future results, but that’s not how things work when you’re dealing with something random involving independent events.
Another Example Strategy from Professor Slots
I’m unimpressed with the first slots strategy I read on his site, but I thought I’d give some of the other seven strategies he explains on his website a look.
The next one in the blog was “Strategy #6,” which he calls “High Roller Slot Tricks.”
I can hardly wait.
He starts this strategy off with an observation that at one casino he goes to regularly, he wins at the slot machines there when he first sits down but doesn’t win again for a long time after.
He points out that this is an example of his skills at “pattern recognition.”
He claims that the first dozen times he visited that casino, he’d win a jackpot during his first few pushes of the button, but he would then burn through thousands of dollars without hitting anything at all.
He then digresses into a tale about a slot operator he interviewed regarding who was winning jackpots and where. The slot operator apparently told him about a gambler who had won eight times in a row by playing eight different machines and switching from one to the other as soon as he’d won at one.
He claims that using this strategy has worked consistently at the casino for four months.
And he said that he brought $500 to the casino and left with an average $250 profit several times. Then he hit a $4000 jackpot.
This Strategy Doesn’t Even Seem Like a Strategy
He follows this up with another tip. You’re supposed to look for a slot machine that recently hit and still has the winning results on the pay line. The usual advice is to skip such a machine, but Friedl suggests playing it once.
His theory is that some casinos set up their slots to offer early wins to entice you to keep playing. If a small jackpot was just won, a bigger jackpot might be on the horizon, too.
That’s just now how these machines work.
In the short run – an hour – anything can happen.
I’m sure it’s possible that this strategy MIGHT work in the short run. After all, ANYTHING is possible in the short term.
I don’t believe that trying to time these jackpots is going to help you become a winner.
I should point out, though, that a good friend of mine is convinced that his mom had slot machines figured out. She believed that games became “due,” and she would tell him which games to play and when.
He claims they paid rent and bills consistently doing this.
I suspect this might be true, anecdotally, on a short-term basis.
But I think there’s also some confirmation bias here.
My friend works a nine to five job, so he obviously wasn’t confident enough in his ability to play slots for a living.
Is the advice you get from Professor Slots good advice for winning at slot machines?
Some of it is trite but true. He suggests you shouldn’t play with money you can’t afford to lose. He also suggests joining the players club at the casino.
But the stuff about how to win is pretty worthless. It’s all anecdotal.
If beating slot machines was this easy, no one would have a job.