Casino Gambling, “EV” & Slots

Twin River Slot FloorWhat do you expect to happen when you start gambling?

Anyone who gambles at a casino knows that the EV is always going to be negative.  That’s what’s called “the house advantage.”  If you think you are ever entitled to win at a casino, you are incredibly naive.  Your best bet at that time is to leave go to a store with your bankroll, buy something you like at a good value or on sale, and enjoy wearing it for a lifetime – that is a positive EV!  Any single bet can force a casino to pay out, but on a long-term basis, it will make a lot of money off almost all gamblers. Most gamblers deal in very short-term play, which means anything can happen, but certainly can’t tell you anything about the expected long-term play, especially slot machines.

Even though patrons of casinos know there is always a house advantage, the knowledgeable gambler, or advantage gambler, tries to lessen the negative EV by knowing the best rules, practicing the best strategy and using comps and freebies in their overall experience.

Two related posts include:

Casino Gambling and EV – Blackjack Considered

Comps and Your Daily Theoretical

Let’s look at a fun, but high house advantage game – SLOTS.

Big Win - Everytime?

Big Win – Everytime?

First, let’s take a quick look at the truth behind slot machines, concerning the science, technology and math involved.

  • Each reel is determined by the RNG, or random-number generator.  So, the minute you press the button, the outcome is determined – but by the individual machine’s RNG, not the casino.  There is no switch to make them winners or losers.
  • Slot machines are just about the only game in the casino where the odds are not known, or able to be figured out by looking at it.  However, there are clues to whether the house advantage can be even higher than expected – but we’ll save that for later.
  • This is only referring to Class III gaming on Tribal Casinos and las Vegas style slots elsewhere.  VLT gaming in states such as New York is basically playing a bingo game, with no individual RNG per machine.  The VLT terminals in Rhode Island & Delaware do act the same as those Class III slots.

senior-playing-slotsSo, what about EV?  Well, if you’re serious about expected value – DON’T PLAY SLOTS!  Slot machines should be considered recreational gambling – you know, fun – because the house edge on some machines, such as penny progressive slots, can be as low a payoff as 75% or lower.  That’s an EV of 25% or higher.

So, how can you “possibly” make that house advantage lower?  Although you ultimately have no control of the end result, here is some advice:

  1. The simpler the game, the better the odds.  If you are playing a game with many level bonuses, or a mega bonus like Monopoly, Wizard of Oz, etc, expect a bigger house advantage.  Three reel slots tend to pay higher, or they used to, because of their simplicity.  Remember, the more complicated and the more bells and whistles, usually the house edge is higher also.
  2. Usually, the higher the denomination, the higher the odds.  But in some jurisdictions, such as New England, the difference between penny and $1 could be a miniscule 1-2%.  Different states do have different betting limits, payoff limits, lowest payoff %, etc.  Native American Casinos often often call their own shots.  But remember, gambling is so available to the masses that the more saturated the market, the more competitive the casinos need to be.
  3. Always use your players card.  Remember, earning rewards points helps diminish the high EV on slots.

    Being More Careful with your Players Card is just one of the things to be careful with in the casino

    Don’t forget to use your Players Card

  4. Know your machine.  Some machine, called multipliers long ago, payoff best in max bet.  Quick Hit is a good example where 5 progressives won’t be available unless you play Max Bet.  If the number of credits doesn’t matter, then play what your bankroll tells you to play.

    Quick Hit Slot Machine

    Quick Hit Slot Machine

  5. Play slowly – the end result won’t matter.  The RNG doesn’t have feelings and doesn’t care how fast you hit the button.  But speed does kill in the casino – it kills your bankroll.  (So, don’t believe that stopping the reels has anything to do with the outcome.  Remember, the minute you hit the button to bet, the RNG has made the decision on the outcome in a mila-second later.)
  6. What you see on the screen or on the reels is purely entertainment.  You could watch a slideshow of Picasso paintings, and the win/loss result would be the same.  If a machine shows teasing near wins, it’s only one thing to the RNG – another losing combination, that’s all.
  7. Finally the best strategy for slots? – Well there is  none!  Don’t believe any who thinks they have a sure system, or they received info from the slot attendant about this or that.  You’ll be a fool to follow their advice or what they want you to believe.  Whenever you hear the words “always” or “never” in sentence about slots, don’t believe it – unless it’s the RNG always controls the outcome.

That’s all for now.



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