Myths and Schemes of Slot Play

The myths about playing slot machines are almost endless. For example, there are myths about when to play, myths about how to spot good machines, and myths about knowing which the "house" games are. Let's examine some of these mistaken ideas and some of the other misleading information we have all heard about.

"If You Know How to Pull the Handle the Right Way, You Can Get the Machine to Pay Off More Often"

Some people pull the handle ever so slowly, a quarter inch at a time, believing the slower they pull, the slower the reels will spin around or something, and that will help them to win. Other people do just the opposite. The faster or harder they can pull the handle, the better. When a casino employee expressed concern for the welfare of the machine after such treatment, these players are all the more convinced that they have found the secret to success for playing slots, otherwise the casino wouldn't care if they tore off the machine's handles!

There are also variations of the slow and fast pulling of slot handles. One person likes to pull the handle down slowly and force it back up abruptly. Another player will yank the handle down and hold it down until the reels index stop spinning. And so on. None of these techniques have anything to do with how a machine will pay or how often you can win.

Let me add a word of warning, however. Once in a great while you will discover a machine on which you can pull the handle and make the reels spin without putting in any money. First of all, chances are good that this free playing machine will not pay when you hit something. But even if it does, you would be well advised to stop playing this machine immediately and call an attendant. Why? It is against the law in most areas to knowingly play a malfunctioning slot machine. You will not be allowed to keep any money you received from the machine, and you will not be paid for any jackpot you might hit. In addition, chances are good that another customer would see you free playing this machine and report it to the casino, which could result in a lot of embarrassment or worse. Use good judgment and self-control.

"Dollar Slot Machines Pay Off Better Than Nickel, Dime, or Quarter Machines"

This popular notion suggests that because you aren't playing dollars, the smaller denomination machines will penalize you in some way. In other words, you get a better deal if you can play the dollar machines. Well, folks, it ain't exactly so.

It is entirely possible to find three identical machines in the same casino: one a nickel, one a quarter and one a dollar. Except for the size of the coin each machine will accept, they are exactly alike and you can be just as lucky playing nickels as dollars. In fact, I'm sure you could find some nickel machines that offer a greater payback than some dollar machines.

So, to say your chances of winning are not as good unless you are playing dollar slots isn't quite correct. This shouldn't cause you to conclude, however, that there are no differences between dollar machines as a whole and their smaller-denomination cousins. Dollar machines tend to have a smaller hold, in general, than do the other machines. Hold is what the machine keeps for the casino. It is important to remember that you could be just as lucky playing nickels, dimes, or quarters as you could play dollars. And if you aren't winning, at least you know your money may last a little longer.

"This Machine Has Been Played for Hours and Hasn't Paid a Jackpot, So It's About Ready to Hit"

Maybe, and maybe not! Viewed in one way, there is an element of truth to this myth because the longer the machine is played, the greater the probability that it will hit a jackpot. It is for this reason that people are willing to keep dropping coins into a cold machine, with the result that many expectant slot players become disappointed losers. By the time a jackpot finally hits, the player may very well have gone broke or put more money into the machine than the jackpot will pay out. The casino is the winner in either case. Slots operate randomly. There is no little counter or clock inside that signals when it is time to pay out a jackpot.

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