23 Mar

Debunking Myths surrounding ‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’ Slot Machines

rabbits-footAre you a superstitious person? Do you play the slot machines? If you answered yes to both of those questions, statistics indicate that you probably have some type of superstitious system that you use to play.

Some players will walk into a casino and slowly walk the floor, spending half an hour or more sizing up the slot machines before picking ‘the one’. They may be looking for a ‘hot’ slot that’s been hitting frequently. Others are seeking out machines that haven’t paid any significant winnings in a while, known as ‘cold’ slots.

There’s a throng of players all over the world who go through a complete ritual of superstitious behaviorisms or activities before playing the slots. And of course you have your reel spinners that won’t play unless they have their lucky trinkets on them; a picture of their grandchildren, special piece of jewelry or rabbit’s foot, perhaps.

I’ve met plenty of people who use one or more of these slots systems, and every single one swears by its legitimacy. “I always win when I do this,” they say. And while I do love to play the slots myself, and am fully aware that science has utter control over the outcome of any spin, I don’t bother trying to tell them otherwise. They either wouldn’t believe me, or it would ruin their entire ‘lucky’ experience at the casino.

However, I do feel it’s important for players – especially those new to the game – to understand the science behind slot machines. Statistically speaking, knowledge is strongest board in the fence-line that separates casual players from potential gambling addicts.

The Science of Slot Machines

A random number generator, or RNG, is the brain of every slot machine. Live casino slots, real-money online slots, free social gaming slots – they are all powered by the mechanics of an RNG. As the name implies, the RNG determines what will happen on each and every spin with absolute randomness.

The RNG contains a very long series of numbers. These numbers are constantly changing with every millisecond the machine sits idle. The moment a player spins the reels, the numbers come to a stop. Those numbers then define what images will appear on each and every reel. Thus it is scientifically impossible to predict when a slot machine will or won’t hit a winning combination of any size.

All slots are programmed, however, to payout a specific percentage of their take over the long term. An 88% payout ratio will guarantee that $88 will be awarded for every $100 the machine collects. But the ‘long term’ factor makes it impossible to judge the frequency of the wins. A machine could award two enormous jackpots in a single day, week or month, or it could take years to hit even one. Either way, the payout percentage will be met, even if it takes 25 years to level out.

As far as proverbial temperatures go, when a slot machine is ‘hot’, it could stay hot or go cold at any moment. Likewise, a ‘cold’ slot could retain its frigidity for a long time, or suddenly become hot.  As such, the superstition behind choosing hot or cold machines has absolutely no realistic bearing on a player’s chances of winning.

Setting a furry-headed treasure troll upon the console isn’t going to make the reels fall into perfect symmetry, the same as forgetting your lucky rabbit’s foot at home won’t cause a machine to go cold.

Are some players luckier than others? Perhaps, yes. Should you stop bringing your lucky trinkets and playing only what you feel are the best slots? Absolutely not. Just make sure you’re playing within your means and there’s nothing wrong with bringing a little superstition into the game.