Slot Machine FAQ – Part 4 of 4

Today’s set of questions includes information about good instructional videos you don’t have to pay to acquire, as well as good sources for casino revenue statistics. Having accurate information helps gamblers make good decisions, so I’m glad to answer such questions. I also discuss Facebook slots on this FAQ for the first time. The subject of huge progressive jackpots come up a couple of times, including a question about urban legends in gambling. Readers should get a variety of slot machine factoids from this Q&A collection.

This set of slot machine answers begins with a warm thought: how to handle winning a huge jackpot. I also cover the question of published payout percentages on the Internet and whether you can trust the statistics. For the first time in this series, I also discuss the concept of server based slot machines–the new rage in the online slots industry.

This FAQ page answers the following questions:

You can view other slot questions and answers in Part 1Part 2Part 3

Slot Machine Questions Answered

Which free slot machine instructional videos would you recommend?

If you want accessible videos which give good basic information about slot machines (or other casino games), look for the videos hosted by Steve Bourie on YouTube. These videos have a different expert on whatever game they cover. Lasting around 10 to 15 minutes, they give a good introduction to a casino game and dispel some of the myths associated with that game. While they don’t have great production value, they are informational. You can tell the experts, who are either authors or respected online writers, know their subject well. Steve Bourie is the author of the best selling “American Casino Guide”, a book which is published annually (and has been since 1992). The guide is the #1 bestselling book on US casino travel, with details on over 700 different gambling locations.

Can you play slots on Facebook for real money?

The answer to that question used to be an emphatic “No”. The answer now is yes, but only if you live in the United Kingdom. UK players can sign up through Gamesys for “Bingo & Slotz Frenzy”, which has limited bingo and casino gaming for real money on Facebook. Everyone else is going to have to be satisfied by Slotomania or Double Down Casino for Facebook credits for the time being. In related news, Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, hopes to see his company offer real money casino games in the near future.

What’s the best slot machine to play for progressives?

I highlighted this recently, but 9 of the 10 biggest jackpots in the history of slot machines were held by Megabucks Slots as late as 2011. If you want the biggest jackpots, play Megabucks from IGT, which has paid up on prizes of $20 million or $30 million multiple times. Megabucks is a $1 slot which requires 3 coins to trigger the jackpot, so each spin costs $3. Remember that the higher the jackpot, the less likely you are to win. A lot of gamblers had to lose a lot of money for those Megabucks jackpots to keep paying out huge prizes.

How do I know that an online casino is legit?

Many websites which are legitimate use Technical System Testing to verify their fairness. TST is a third-party company out of Australia which audits online gaming sites. They test to see if games are fair and the software is secure. When you go to a gambling website, notice that many of them show an update of the last time they were audited by TST–usually within the last 24 to 72 hours. It goes without saying that online casinos need to post which government agency offered them a license and where they are regulated. Knowing which software development company licenses the operator their software, assuming they don’t have proprietary software, sometimes assures gamblers. Remember to verify the accuracy of the information provided on the casino site through a third-party website. Several authority sites exist, such as Online Casino City.

What are Flash casino slots?

Flash casino slots are games played without a download. Instead of playing with software, the games are run through the web browser using Adobe Flash player. This is one of two major alternatives to fully downloaded software–the other being Java games. At a time, no-download gaming had restrictions to graphics and sound quality, but the limitations are gone in the year . Some casinos don’t have as many of the virtual slot machine titles for Flash gaming as downloadable gaming, but that’s the only real restriction anymore.

I’ve heard of a curse on lottery winners, but is there a curse on progressive jackpot winners?

I’m not an expert on curses, but I do know urban legends exist about progressive jackpot winners being cursed, after a woman who won the second-largest jackpot ever was in a car accident six weeks later which killed her sister and left her with paralysis. Since none of the other top winners are known to have suffered tragic accidents, I’d say the idea a curse exists isn’t valid. I’ll let you decide what you think.

Who do you consider the best slots player in the world right now?

Unless you could tell me who the luckiest person in the world is, no one could truthfully make the claim to be the best slots player. Slot machine gambling requires no strategy, so no gambler is better at it than any other. I suppose some people have a better understanding of the house edge on machines, so someone with encyclopedic knowledge of slot machine odds would be able to find the best game in the casino. If you had someone who knew where to find the highest progressive jackpots at the moment were, they might be able to find games with such a high jackpot that it would represent positive expectation play. The gambler with the best talents or most information in that regard could make a claim to being a good slots player. But once that person sat down at the slot machine and started feeding their money into the machine, you or I are every bit as good at playing slots as any of these theoretical masters of slots gambling. Winning at slot machines is all about luck.

Where could I get accurate gaming revenue data for Las Vegas?

The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Center for Gaming Research releases excellent data from many of its studies. For instance, a pdf exists from the Center for Gaming Research which gives the total revenues for Las Vegas casinos from 1984 through 2012. That sounds like the information you want to have.

What should I do if I hit a big jackpot?

If you hit a big jackpot on a slot machine, don’t hit “Spin” again until the casino management comes over to see your results. Leave your slots card in the machine. Remain seated in your chair. Try to get an attendant’s attention, so management knows about your win as soon as possible. Have identification ready, be polite, and be patient.

I’ve seen posted payout percentages for slots on the European online casinos and some claim to have 97% to 98% payout percentages for slots. Is that anywhere close to accurate?

Getting accurate information for any online casino’s payout percentages is spotty. The published amounts are usually unattributed to an authority source, so take any published amounts with a grain of salt. That being said,  online casinos face stiff competition and have an entire gambling world to target, so the desire to draw in the maximum customers base might outweigh the desire to pilfer the accounts of their loyal customer base. Land-based casinos in Las Vegas are known to offer 95% to 98% payback to high roller customers, so it’s not crazy to assume a few Internet operations might offer 95% to 98% to online high rollers. If that’s the case, these outfits are likely to release statistics which present them in the most favorable light, so you might have seen the posted payouts for high rollers on those sites. If I’m a penny slots player, I wouldn’t expect to see those odds.

What is the etiquette involving a player playing two machines during crowded hours?

Casinos often put up a sign which asks players not to play two machines during peak hours. If people are having trouble finding a machine and someone is playing two games at once, good manners stipulate the two-machine player should give up a machine.

A friendly gambler told me the machine pays out less when a slots card is used. Is this true?

This person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The slots card does not affect how much the machine pays out. If you play on a machine at a licensed and regulated casino, specific regulations stipulate the odds cannot be changed during play. When bets are in the machine, payback percentages cannot be changed, by law. Even with server-based machines where the technical ability to change parameters remotely exist, most jurisdictions have a four-minute waiting period which is required before and after a player makes a bet when the payouts can’t be changed. This would apply to a situation where someone puts a slot card into a machine, so your fellow gambler gave you bad information.

Can casinos change percentages while you’re on a server based game?

Casinos can make changes using a remote uplink on server-based games, but laws and protocols keep that from happening in most jurisdictions. Check local regulations to make sure your rights are protected. In regulated server based games, a four-minute window before and after you play is required. Those with too many concerns can let the early adopters deal with casino gaming on the cloud and see if any big scandals occur.

How do slot machines work?

Slot machines are computerized these days. The random number generator is the key component. The numbers selected correspond to reel combinations. Thousands of these numbers are generated per second. Programmers generate the payback percentage. This percentage is based on probabilities or odds. The odds and the payback percentage converge over a long time, but may deviate a long way from the predictions in the short term.

Do Native American casinos have minimum payback percentages?

Native American casinos don’t necessarily have minimum payback percentages, but they often do. This depends on the compact negotiated between the Native American casino and the state casino is located inside. Indian casinos are located on Native American reservations, which are seen (by treaty commitment) as sovereign nations. Due to a Supreme Court decision in the late 1980’s, reservation casinos are given special status due to this sovereignty–with one stipulation. The casino has to come to a compact with the state. Many of these compacts have a minimum payback percentage, but they might not.

Besides money management and the slots club, what one money-saving tip would you give to slots players?

Keep a journal for a full year of every single penny you win and lose at the slot machines. The journal doesn’t have to be detailed–make this a dry statistical summary. Most gamblers remember their winning sessions and recount them in gory detail to their friends. They tend to forget their losing sessions. These tendencies leave the impression a person is luckier at gambling than they really are. The journal gives you a black-and-white account of your playing. You can’t hide from these facts, so you’re going to be more conservative in your approach to gambling on the slots next year.

How does the random number generator work?

When you hit the spin button, the random number generator choose a number for each reel on your machine. This means 3 numbers are chosen for a 3-reel machine, while 5 numbers are chosen for a 5-reel machine. Each number corresponds to a symbol on the reel and this creates the configuration as it appears on your screen. As you can see, the RNG does not go through a list of payouts and determine what you get, like many people who think they can guess the pattern assume.

What should I do if I find someone else’s slots card?

Place the card on top of the machine where you found it. It’s common for players to go back to the last place they had the card, so they should be able to find the card quickly if you place it on top of the machine.

Is a machine which hasn’t hit in a while “due” for a big win?

Every single spin on a slot machine has the exact same payback percentage, so your odds remain the same no matter how “hot” or “cold” the machine is. The machine is never due for a win. See this article for more info.

What is server based gaming?

Server based gaming lets the game to reside on a server, allowing casinos to change games and game parameters with a click. This also allows the casino to have two-way interaction with a player. For instance, a casino could offer promotions to a specific player through a server window, or a player could order drinks from the window. It’s harder to program a machine for changes through the server window, but it’s possible. If all this sounds familiar, then yes, server based slot machines is like playing slots on “The Cloud”.

When I was younger, I assumed UNLV was only good for basketball, but it should come as no surprise the university specializes in gambling studies. If nothing else, I hope readers of this article come away with good information on how to verify how trustworthy a casino website is. Never play at a site which gives you a suspicious feeling. Before you deposit money in a casino, always read what other gamblers have said about them online.