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Ask the Slot Expert: How Do New Slot Machines Figure Out How Much to Pay?7 November 2012
By John Robison
Thanks for the kind words about my column.
Slot machines don't calculate how much to pay players. They choose the results of a spin at random without regard for what has happened in the past. It's possible for the very first spin by a patron on a machine to be the top jackpot.
The amount of money that has been played on a machine has no effect on the results of future spins. It's true, though, that in the long run the amount of money a machine has returned to its players will be very close to its long-term payback percentage. Because results are chosen at random, a 95% payback machine may have paid back anywhere from, say, 50% to 140% after 1000 spins. After 10,000 spins, the range might have narrowed to, say, 80% to 110%. I'm making up these numbers for a mythical slot machine, but slot manufacturers give casinos some statistics (confidence intervals and volatility index) to casinos to give them an idea of how close a machine's actual payback will be to its long-term payback after a certain number of spins.
Let's say slot machines did operate the way you described. Wouldn't a new machine have to have a long period of losing spins until it had collected enough money to start paying out?
Jackpots for all,
Congratulations on your jackpot.
Chances are, you would not have received the same numbers had you bet the maximum. You would have had to have hit the Draw button at the exact same instant to receive the same numbers. It probably would have taken you a little more (or less) time to play the max bet, so the RNG would have been in a different point in its cycle and you would have received different numbers for that game.
Jackpots for all,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.