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Ask the Slot Expert: Do slot machines try to win back money?9 July 2014
Let me start with a general request to my readers. When you mention a machine, it would help me a lot if you also tell me the manufacturer. In this case, I could find information about X-Stream machines, but not X-Streem machines.
Now let's move on to your comments and questions. It does seem like the colors of the different progressives are irrelevant. They're just a way to differentiate three progressive jackpots. I've played machines with these types of progressive jackpots, but the jackpots were in different ranges, like $5-$10, $15-$50, $75-$100.
In any case, this how these progressives that are not tied to a reel combination work. The RNG is used to pick a number at random between the reset point (the lowest amount for the progressive) and the maximum (in your case, $100). Let's call that number the trigger point. A percentage of each bet goes towards increasing a running total, one for each progressive. The player whose bet pushes the running total over the trigger point wins the progressive for that trigger point.
I've hit many of these types of progressives. Because winning them is not tied to a reel combination, winning comes as a surprise. Randy Adams, one of the great slot designers, once told me that an unexpected win is worth more to the player than an expected win. Players may feel the money won from the progressive is worth more than the same amount of money won from the base game because the progressive is awarded apart from the base game and is unexpected.
To answer your question about how long it takes a machine to go back to a paying mode, let me ask you a question. I've just tossed a fair coin three times and got three heads. How many more times will I have to flip the coin until I get a tails?
There's no way to know many times I'll have to flip the coin to get a tails because the result of each flip is random. I might get a tails on the next flip or it might take two, three or even more flips to get a tails.
The same situation exists on the slot machine. It might go into a paying mode on the next spin. It might take a few spins. It might even take more spins than you're willing to fund.
Furthermore, there's no such things as pay modes and take modes in the programming of the slot machine. All the program does is choose results at random, just like the only thing the coin does is land on heads or tails at random. Players ascribe pay and take, hot and cold cycles to the results on a slot machine. Determining the cycle is always done after the fact because there's no way to predict what is going to happen next on a slot machine.
It's not unusual for a machine or bank of machines to be hot one time and ice cold the next. On one of my trips to Las Vegas, I thought I could use the high payback machines on a rotating carousel at Circus Circus as my personal ATMs. On my next trip, I hit the machines with hopes of once again winning enough to pay for my trip.
Unfortunately, my hitting the machines was the only hitting that occurred. I didn't hit much of anything on them and they took the money I had allotted to them.
Another example. One of my co-workers returned from a trip to Las Vegas and told me that a bank of Blazing 7's slots at Excalibur were hitting right and left one night. When he went back the next day, they were barely hitting at all.
Congratulations on your progressive hits. The casino knows you won money if you used your card. But it's not going to do anything to win it back. It would be illegal for a machine to take into account how much you've won (or lost) in determining the result of a spin. In fact, the casino would love it if everyone could win. Winning players want to come back and win some more. Of course, there has to be some losers so the winners have something to win and the casino can pay its bills.
You said, "it seemed to hit better if I took my card out." The key word in your statement is seemed. This may be a case of confirmation bias. You thought the casino was trying to win back the money you had won, so you remember the losing spins you had while using your card and the winning spins you had while not using your card. If you had played 100 spins both with your card and without and kept track of the results, you would have found that your hit percentage was very close under both scenarios.
A similar things happens when you bet three coins per line. You might be a little uncomfortable with a bet that big and you might not have the bankroll to support playing at that level, so the losing spins hurt more. Also, you might play only a few spins at the high bet and then many more at the lower bet, so you will hit more times at the lower bet. It's purely a result of the number of spins played at each bet and the machine is not trying to make you lose at the high bet and win at the low bet. Again, if you tracked the hit percentage at the low bet and the high bet, you'd find the percentages are very close. You see the big spenders hitting because they're playing many more spins at the big bet.
Finally, don't beat yourself up because you don't always quite while you're ahead. Quitting while you're ahead is another gambling strategy that doesn't work. The problem is that as soon as you make another bet, you're exposing your bankroll to the house edge again. The only way to win with quitting while you're ahead is to leave the casino and never go back.
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 reply to every question.
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