Slot machines seem like basic games on the surface. You bet money, spin the reels, and hope for big wins.
Of course, some players make the matter more complicated. They formulate opinions on why they’re winning or losing and stick to these beliefs.
The problem with slot machines is that their results aren’t entirely transparent. You can’t open a slot machine to check why your bets are winning or losing.
Contrast slots to blackjack or baccarat, where you can physically see all of the cards in play. You can therefore put more trust in the results.
The nature of slot machines has led to a number of myths and outright lies. Here are nine of the biggest lies you may have been led to believe about slots.
1 – Casinos Can Change RTP at Any Time
Return to player (RTP) refers to how much a slot machine pays back over time. For example, a slot with 96% RTP will theoretically deliver $0.96 for every dollar wagered.
Some gamblers believe that these payout percentages aren’t set in stone. They allege that casinos can and will alter RTP at any point.
Many of the same gamblers subscribe to the notion that casinos change payback with the flip of a switch. For instance, an operator may lower RTP on all slot machines during busy evening hours.
This move makes sense in theory, considering that casinos would make more profits by taking advantage of busy hours. However, changing payout percentages on a whim is illegal in most gambling jurisdictions.
Licensing authorities have rules in place for their operators. Nevada law, for example, requires that a slot machine be shut down for four minutes prior to the RTP being changed.
Casinos must wait another four minutes after the payback has been adjusted. Any advantage they gain from dropping the payout percentage takes a hit when factoring in the machine’s downtime.
Land-based casinos don’t lower RTP just to trick customers. It’s not worth shutting down games to tinker with payout percentages in such a manner.
Many online casinos and software providers are also subject to regulations by their licensing authority. These regulations normally cover the subject of changing payback.
However, some gaming sites are located in lax jurisdictions. These internet casinos can theoretically get away with adjusting payout percentages without gamblers knowing.
But the vast majority of online casinos license their games, rather than creating their own. Developers like Microgaming and NetEnt, for example, run the slots for their casino clients.
Providers often operate in multiple jurisdictions, some of which require third-party testing. These audits ensure that developers offer fair gaming. Long story short, even online casinos and providers have major roadblocks to changing payout percentages.
2 – You Can Time Spins Correctly to Win More Money
The actual process of playing slot machines doesn’t involve any skill. You merely hit the spin button and wait for results.
Nevertheless, certain players think that beating slots is all about properly timing spins. These gamblers wait for the perfect moment to push the spin button.
Their mindset is that they have to wait a certain amount of seconds in between spins. If they wait the perfect amount of time, their chances of winning improve. Those who fall for this belief lack understanding of the random number generator (RNG).
The RNG refers to a program that cycles through numerous payout combinations to determine results. Lower prizes have a higher chance of occurring, while bigger payouts are delivered less frequently.
The problem with timing up spins is that the RNG moves at an incredible speed. Most of these programs cycle through millions of combinations within seconds.
You have no chance to time spins with any consistency at this rate. The RNG operates so fast that every spin is complete luck.
3 – Online Slots Will Rip You Off
Internet casinos have always been thought of as less trustworthy than land-based establishments. Players have a hard time trusting a site that doesn’t use physical slot machines and other gaming equipment.
The fact that gamblers can’t physically interact with online slots leads to the belief that they’re sketchier. Furthermore, an online casino is supposedly more likely to rip you off than a brick-and-mortar venue.
It’s true that internet casinos have more freedom in some gambling jurisdictions. Sites licensed in, say, Curacao or Belize aren’t subject to the same lofty standards as UK-licensed casinos.
But nearly all online casino license/rent their software and games. They themselves don’t produce and run slot machines.
Instead, a third-party software provider handles this aspect. The developer would therefore be the entity that could rip players off.
Online gambling history does have a few isolated incidents where software providers have run faulty games. However, it’s very rare for an internet slot to be intentionally designed to cheat gamblers.
Providers and casinos will destroy trust with customers by cheating. They already have an advantage, so it’s not worth cheating to gain an even bigger edge.
4 – Slot Machines Start Paying Less When You’re Winning
Experiencing a hot slots session is one of the greatest joys in gambling. Slot machines can deliver big prizes in short order, allowing you to rack up serious winnings.
However, some players have a negative view towards these hot streaks. They believe that games are programmed to pay less when one is winning.
This belief goes back to the idea that casinos meticulously control slot machines. They can supposedly tell when players are winning big and quickly reprogram the games to start paying less.
The first problem with this idea is that casinos don’t spend hours monitoring who’s winning. The staff members already have enough to do without obsessing over a successful player here or there.
The second problem is that gambling establishments already have a built-in advantage. They know there’ll be winners, yet they’ll still profit in the long run.
Another reason why casinos don’t reprogram games to pay less is because it’s normally illegal. They’d violate their jurisdiction’s laws by taking such measures.
Finally, gambling establishments need players to win once and a while. After all, gamblers need some hope in order to continue playing slots.
5 – Casinos Cheat Players Out of Jackpots
Every slots gambler dreams of winning a big progressive jackpot and retiring early. A select few players win multimillion-dollar prizes and actually get to live this dream.
However, recent media stories have created the perception that casinos sometimes cheat players out of jackpot wins. Specifically, casino officials will find the windfall is the result of a machine malfunction.
Katrina Bookman is perhaps the most-famous example of somebody who won a jackpot due to a malfunction.
Bookman was playing at New York’s Resorts World when she saw a $43 million prize flash across her screen. But she was later told that the game malfunctioned and the payout was a mistake.
She hired a lawyer and pursued legal action against Resorts World. However, nothing has come of her case.
Regardless of Bookman coming up empty-handed, her story adds to the perception that casinos will rob players of jackpots. Many social media users commenting on her story noted that casinos will gladly take gamblers’ money, yet they don’t want to pay up after losing.
The truth, though, is that gambling establishments can’t make up false reasons to avoid honoring a jackpot. Massive jackpots are closely scrutinized by both casino and state gaming officials.
Given that such huge prizes are rare, officials want to make sure that big jackpot wins are legitimate. In Bookman’s case, Resorts World discovered that the game did indeed malfunction and wrongly award her the biggest slots jackpot ever.
Bookman isn’t the only player to suffer this fate. Pauline McKee also made headlines for a big win that was too good to be true.
She hit a $41.8 million jackpot at Iowa’s Isle Resort & Casino. The catch, though, is that the game she was playing only paid up to $10,000.
Isle and state gambling officials found that the slot went haywire and awarded McKee a jackpot worth nearly 420x the real top prize. The jaded grandmother took Isle casino to the Iowa Supreme Court, but lost her case.
6 – You’ll Win Less When Using a Slots Club Card
Both online and land-based casinos offer rewards to slots players. An internet casino begins rewarding players as soon as they start placing real-money bets.
Land-based casinos on the other hand, require that players sign up for the slots club first. They then receive a card that’s used to accumulate points on whatever game they’re playing.
Some gamblers actually suggest to avoid using these cards. They believe that slot machines are programmed to pay less when a rewards card is detected
The logic here is that casinos need to counteract the comps they’re giving out. Therefore, they program slot machines to detect slots club cards and lower payback accordingly.
This thought makes sense, until considering that gambling establishments have little incentive to rob rewards members. After all, the comps aren’t worth anywhere near what casinos make off players.
Here’s an example to explain:
- You play a slot machine with a 5% house edge.
- You bet $1,000.
- 1,000 x 0.05 = $50 in losses
- The casino’s comp rate is 0.1%.
- 1,000 x 0.001 = $1 in rewards
- 50 / 1 = 50
- Your theoretical losses are 50x greater than the comps.
Casinos would have to be incredibly stingy to alter payback and counteract comps that are worth 50x less than losses. Of course, they don’t need to use such practices when they’re winning so much.
Never forsake using a slots club card under the assumption that games will pay less. They pay exactly what they’re programmed to, regardless of if rewards are being given or not.
7 – Slot Machines Are Pure Luck
Earlier I described how slot machines don’t involve much skill. A trained monkey could easily push the spin button over and over and play these games.
Given the simplistic nature of slots play, many gamblers suggest that slot machines don’t involve any skill. Instead, these games are believed to be as pure of a gamble as flipping a coin.
The reality, though, is that slots do involve some degree of strategy. The main thing you can do to boost your chances of winning is find games with high RTP.
Playing slots with high payback improves your long-term chances of winning. You may not see the benefits right away, but you will over time.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to find exact payout percentages for land-based slot machines. The companies that develop these games only share RTP with their casino clients.
Your best bet in this case is to go off generic RTP figures for each coin denomination. Land-based casinos generally pay more as the coin denomination increases.
Here’s a loose guide on how much each denomination pays:
- Penny slots = 88% to 90% RTP
- Nickel slots = 90% to 93%
- Dollar slots = 94% to 96%
- $5 slots = 94% to 98%
- $25 slots = 95% to 99%
Online slots make the process of finding RTP much easier. Most online game developers publicly list their payout percentages.
You simply need to google “[game name] RTP” to find payback information. You’ll eventually notice that most internet slots offer between 94% and 97% RTP.
Online casinos are more generous with payout percentages on average. These games are also cheaper to play than the majority of land-based slots.
If you’re looking for the best chance to win without betting big, then internet casinos are a great choice.
8 – The Online Auto Play Feature Pays Less
Most online slots offer a helpful feature called auto play. This option makes the reels spin automatically with your selected betting options in place.
Here’s an example:
- You select the auto play button.
- You’re given the option to auto play for 5-25 spins.
- You choose 20 spins
- The reels begin automatically spinning.
- They quit spinning after 20 rounds (you can also stop this option at any time).
Auto play is great from the perspective that it lets you avoid manually pushing the spin button every time. You can instead set your betting preferences and relax while the reels spin.
But some gamblers are convinced that internet slots pay less when auto play is used. No real logic exists to back up this thought.
I can only assume that players adopt this lie when their money disappears faster with auto play. However, this phenomenon can be explained with a few logical reasons:
- Some games run faster with auto play than they do with manual spins.
- Time goes faster for players when they’re not actually spinning the reels.
- Most gamblers don’t realize how much they can lose over the course of 20-100 auto-play spins.
Contrary to this belief, online slots don’t suddenly pay less just because auto play is enabled. This option gives gamblers the same chance of winning as manual spins.
Psychological factors and misperceptions are behind the belief that auto play causes more losses. In truthfulness, this option doesn’t have any effect on the odds.
9 – Slots Run Hot and Cold
Slot machines are extremely volatile games. They may deliver a huge payout in one session, then eat your entire bankroll the next.
This nature has given rise to the concept of slots running hot and cold. A hot game offers an abundance of payouts in quick fashion, while a cold machine rarely pays.
Players have perpetuated this lie by walking around land-based casinos or scrolling across gaming sites in pursuit of hot slot machines.
Here’s a sample scenario:
- A gambler starts playing a slot.
- They spin the reels 20 times.
- They only collect two small wins.
- The player moves on to the next game.
- They spin for 15-20 turns and only win one small prize.
- The gambler plays a different slot and wins several times in a short span.
- They believe that this is the hot game.
Many players experience scenarios like this when constantly switching games. It may feel like the slot machine that’s paying out frequently is somehow on a hot cycle.
But volatility is the key aspect to focus on here. Every slot machine is fairly volatile and pays out in spurts, followed by long cold streaks.
You don’t find “hot” slot machines by switching games. You just experience the better side of volatility after making so many changes. It’s very possible that you’d enjoy a hot streak by playing the same game over and over.
A good run merely amounts to the RNG awarding payouts. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how games are selected.
Slot machines do have different “hit frequencies,” which refer to how often they’re programmed to pay. A game with a high hit frequency will pay on a more-consistent basis.
The drawback, though, is that such slot machines tend to have smaller jackpots and fewer bonus features. They must compensate for the steadier prizes being awarded to players.
You may find a supposed hot game just by looking for slots with smaller jackpots and fewer bonuses. But there’s no credence to the idea that slot machines run hot and cold, outside of different hit frequencies.
The slots world is filled with downright lies that have been passed on throughout the decades. Being able to see through these lies is key to having a better slots experience and hopefully winning more money.
Casinos don’t program slot machines to pay less just because you’re winning or using a rewards card. They fully expect some winners, and they don’t need to compensate for the rewards being given out.
Gambling venues also don’t cheat players out of life-changing jackpots. They have legal disclaimers on games that protect them in the case of machine malfunctions that award huge wins.
Online slots have been unfairly labeled as games that’ll rip off gamblers. However, it’s extremely rare to find a faulty slot.
Internet casinos merely license software, so they themselves can’t alter results. Most software providers operate in multiple jurisdictions and must undergo third-party auditing to ensure fair gaming.
In summary, slot machines are surrounded by multiple lies due to their nature. They operate electronically and don’t allow gamblers to physically see results play out.
Therefore, certain players make up stories on how slots work and pass them along. It’s important to avoid falling for these falsehoods.
Instead, do your own research on slots strategy. Focus on what works, including finding slots with high RTP and paying attention to volatility.