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Ask the Slot Expert: Stopping the Spin Gives Me Better Results

9 January 2013

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Either I am extremely lucky or others are extremely unlucky.

I have watched several people sit down at particular machines I play and they play the max bet of $2.50 per spin. They spin and spin and rarely hit anything over $3.00 –- most hits are for $0.40 or $0.80.

They get up and I sit down and place the same max bet, however I stop the spin. Yesterday, a bonus round came up in a spin that I stopped and I had $310 when the bonus round was over. I have yet to see anyone getting those results by just letting it spin.

I have experienced these results on IGT machines, Konami machines, WMS and others. And it happens all of the time –- not always when someone has just gotten up.

By personal experience (many times) I have had many bonus rounds and won some significant money by stopping the spins, so I do not buy off on the predetermined result. Otherwise I would be losing as much as those other people. I wish there were some proof that someone from one of the manufacturers could show me that would prove me wrong.

Regards,
Barbara

Dear Barbara,

Letters like yours create a real problem for me. Some people are consistently outliers, doing either better or worse than the majority of other players on a consistent basis. Their experiences seem to indicate that machines don't work in they way I describe.

Most people may have a really good or bad streak, but then their next set of results are more typical. But somebody has to be in the tail ends of the curve and some people seem to land there more than their fair share of the time. Frank Scoblete wrote about a lady who played Joker Wild video poker with a non-optimal strategy and yet consistently won money every year. You just may be one of these very lucky people.

Your assertion is that you get better results by stopping the spin. Your main evidence is that you hit for $310 in a bonus round on a "stopped" spin and you've never seen a non-stopper hit for that amount.

A $300+ payout on a $3 bet is a rare event. I'm not surprised that you haven't seen a non-stopper hit for that amount. I bet you haven't hit for that amount too frequently either.

I don't doubt that you won some significant money by stopping spins. I also don't doubt that non-stoppers have also won significant money, even if you didn't witness it. And because you think that stopping the spin improves your results, you probably stop the spin almost every time, so you give yourself very few chances to hit something big on a non-stopped spin.

You can perform the same experiment I've recommended in the past. Play 100 spins with stopping the spin and play 100 spins without stopping the spin. Keep track of the number of winning spins you have with each method. The numbers should be very close.

Let's look at your assertion from the casino's perspective. Its revenue model depends on the house edge on the games they offer. It wants games to hold the house edge and it doesn't really like players who have ways to decrease the house edge. That's why casinos are not keen on card counters at blackjack and dice controllers at craps. These players are able to decrease the house edge against them.

Casinos take countermeasures against these players. They ban or shuffle-up on card counters. They try to rattle dice controllers. There's nothing the casino can do to alter the basic game to thwart these players.

Looking at a slot machine, the casino wants it to hold its house edge. Let's say the casino has the option of ordering a machine on which stopping the spin involves some skill and does affect the results and one on which stopping the spin just reveals the already determined result for that spin. The last thing the casino wants is for players to be able to decrease the house edge, so it will order the second type of machine.

Another thing to consider is how the casino and the state can verify that the proper amount of money has been paid back to players based on the amount of money played on the machine if stopping the spin affected the results?

I never argue with success. If stopping the spin is working for you, then continue doing it.

Manufacturers could prove that stopping the spin does not affect the result of that spin. To paraphrase, the proof is in the programming.

Jackpots for all,
John


John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots