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Best of John Robison
Am I due to win?7 August 2006
Let's start with your craps example. Have you ever looked at how the house edge in craps is calculated? It has absolutely nothing to do with a odds changing during a roll or from one roll to another. It has everything to do with comparing the probability of an event happening and the payoff for that event.
I don't doubt that you've played the machines quite a bit, but I do doubt that you learned anything from the experience. This is not a dig at you, however. Players really can't learn that much from playing machines. Because the pool of outcomes is so large, it takes more play than people are able to give or observe to draw any valid conclusions.
The example I always give to illustrate a multi-faceted event that can drive people to draw invalid conclusions is the movie Titanic. It's a very long movie with distinct sections. If you saw only the beginning of the movie, you'd think it was an adventure. Only the middle, a love story. And only the end, a disaster flick. The only way to get a complete picture of the movie is to see all 3+ hours of it.
Another reason it's difficult to learn anything from slot play is because players don't track results. Instead they report their impressions of how things work and then forget events that tend to disprove their conclusions while remembering events that support their conclusions.
You've fallen into a trap known as The Gambler's Fallacy. You say that the more you play, the more likely you are to hit.
This is absolutely, positively false. You are no more likely to hit a jackpot on a machine after 1,000 non-jackpot spins than you are on your first spin. The odds are the same on every spin.
I do believe the slots are random and that previous results do not influence future results. Yes, there is the RNG and there are the odds — but the odds don't change while you're playing a machine. And there's no way for other machines to know that you are due and they should reward you.
Before you say that there is a way — the players club card — let me say that the slot club system does not affect the results on the machine one bit. It is only used to capture the results of your playing sessions.
I don't know what prompted all the talk of rigged machines. Yes, it's not likely that an event with odds of 1 out of 100,000 will happen twice in a row, but it is possible. But if we played gazillions of spins on a machine, it just might happen.
And even if it does happen without gazillions of spins, that does not necessarily indicate the machine was rigged. For example, if you could look at the technical documentation for linked progressives, you'd see an acknowledgement that because it takes a certain amount of time for a jackpot hit to be communicated to all machines in the system, it is possible — though very unlikely — that someone could hit the jackpot and then another player hit before his machine has received the jackpot hit machine and reset the progressive amount, and that both players were entitled to the full progressive amount.
Unlikely events do not happen frequently. Even less frequently do they happen twice in a row. But if they do happen twice in a row, it's not proof positive that something is amiss.
Finally, I'm a firm believer in money management, but only in the sense of ensuring that you have sufficient funds to play for the length of time you want to play.
I think your plan of moving up in denomination is bankroll suicide. First, you are not more likely to win at the higher denomination because of whatever happened at the lower denomination. In addition, if you move up after losing, you're playing with scared money. Players playing with scared money usually make poor decisions.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.
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Best of John Robison