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Can You Beat the Slots?

14 November 2005

By John Robison

Can you really beat or win at slots?

In the long run, no. The more you play, the closer the payback you experience will get to the actual payback of the machine.

I can think of two exceptions, however. Some video poker machines pay back more than 100%. If you follow the proper strategy, you will beat them in the long run. Other video poker machines pay close enough to 100% that when you consider cash back and comps, their overall payback is over 100%.

Finally, if you hit a big jackpot that makes up for all your losses and then some and never play the slots again, you will have beaten the machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

The man who never hit a royal in a video poker slot has not indicated whether he throws anything away to get the royal. I hit a royal on a Florida cruise ship by throwing away three of a kind and possible straights over and over again. That is the secret.


Dear Dave,

Throwing away everything to try for a royal is not only the secret to hitting more royals, it's also the secret to losing more money.

The amount you gain by hitting more royals is more than offset by the amount you lose by throwing away the other hands with higher expected values than the partial royals.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

20-year Royal Virgin: And I thought I was the only one. I also play VP on the computer too!

joie de vivre


Dear Reno,

Keep plugging away. The royals will come.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,


Are there any casinos in the USA that still utilize the mechanical slots? The new machines are ok but a lot of memories went with them.


No. No manufacturer makes them and they're much easier to cheat than today's machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at 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.

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