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Does Using a Players Club Card Make Me Less Likely to Win on a Slot Machine?

21 March 2009

By John Robison

Hi Mr. Robison,

I would like to know if a casino's Player's Club cards interact with slot machines to control winnings.

Many times, when I use my Player's card to accumulate points, I don't win very much - mostly not even breaking even - but when I play "anonymously" without the card, I seem to win more.

I was also told by another player that the payout tickets contain a barcode that act like a lottery; they can stimulate the slot machine into payouts if the barcode is right.

Thank you for your thoughts on the matter!


Dear Hilary,

The use of a players card has no effect whatsoever on your results on slot machines. Using the card only makes it possible for the casino to track how much you play and how much you win or lose. It doesn't make it possible for the casino to control how much you win or lose.

You can prove this to yourself with a simple experiment. Sit down at your favorite machine and play 1000 spins using your card and then 1000 spins without using your card. Keep track of how many hits you get with and without your card. The numbers should be very close, indicating that using your card had no effect on what landed on the payline(s).

As for the barcodes on the tickets, they usually contain only security information to identify the ticket to the TITO (ticket-in-ticket-out) system. The RNG determines the results on the machine without any outside influences. You're in Washington state, though. Readers have identified some differences in how your machines operate and how machines operate in the other gaming jurisdictions. I think it's extremely unlikely that a barcode on a ticket will "stimulate the slot machine into payouts", but it might award bonus credits to a player. The process of an unbiased RNG determining outcomes on a slot machine is sacrosanct and I don't know of any state that has allowed an alteration of that process.

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 reply to every question.

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