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john65pennington's avatar

Can a casino "let you win"?

Asked by john65pennington (29187points) February 12th, 2010

Wife and i have been going to different casinos for several years. if you are a gambler, you are familiar with each casino’s “reward cards” you insert into a slot machine. the theory is the more you play, the more reward points you receive. a computer keeps tally with your points and the time and money you spend on slot machines. my question is this: when i insert my plastic rewards card into a slot machine, my play information is sent to a computer, located somewhere within the casino, that records my activity. if this information goes one way to a computer, can the computer also send information back to allow me to win on the slot machine i am playing? sometimes, i can take this card out and i begin to win. i reinsert the card and my winning ceases. am i gambling against the slot machine or am i gambling against the casino’s computer?

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8 Answers

buckyboy28's avatar

They can’t “let you win” on the machines, but rather entice regulars to come back by comping meals, rooms, and drinks. I know a few people who are V.I.P. members at the Casino and are completely oblivious to the fact that they have more than paid for those free rooms and drinks by gambling thousands of dollars away.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The slots are programmed so that at different times, different machines pay out with more frequency at certain times. For example, based upon the user demographics of a casino location, slots near the door or entrance pay off with more frequency around the time that business normally falls off. Likewise, based upon the profile information on your card, the computer will track not only how often you come to the casino and how much you spend, but what machines you play, how often and how long you play a certain machine. It may monitor your activity from a time perspective, and based upon how long you normally play will increase your win rate to entice you to play even longer.

It’s possible that your win rate without the card may be a little higher, as by not having a card inserted, you would be profiled as a new or infrequent player, and there would be incentive to create a repeat customer out of you. I would venture that, while seeming more frequent without the card, the payoffs would be higher with the card, because, again, the purpose is to create repeat business.

funkdaddy's avatar

Slot machines, at least the kinds you gamble on against the house, without a “skill” element, are required by law to be random, they can’t use wins, losses, who you are, where you are, what time it is, or anything else to determine the outcome.

They really are tightly regulated and monitored. If the casino advertised a payout percentage (99% payout or similar) I believe that has to be validated by an outside agency as well, but I couldn’t find anything on that in a quick search.

Wikipedia on the subject (we’re looking at class 3 slots here)
Another article saying it’s a widely held myth

poisonedantidote's avatar

from a programing point of view its more than possible. but i highly doubt it. i would suggest you read up on confirmation bias and then see if this is what is really happening, or if its more something you are convincing your self of by superstition.

john65pennington's avatar

Funkdaddy, i read both of these articles and thanks for the info. i was told by an ex-security guard at one casino, that each slot machine is programmed to hit a major jackpot every 300,000 spins and the workers know this. here is an example: we were at a very popular casino one Sunday morning. a change lady came over to my wife and said “you are playing three coins(dollars) in that machine, aren’t you?”. my wife did not understand what she meant. wife continued to alternate between two and three dollars bet on each spin. within 5 minutes(two dollars bet), this machine she was playing, hit the jackpot. how can this be explained? did the worker have knowledge that the counter on that slot machine was approaching 300,000 spins? or, was she just making a wild statement? you have to wonder, since it did occur.

funkdaddy's avatar

@john65pennington I’ve had a blackjack dealer tell me she couldn’t be beat on Friday nights, had another tell me her nickname was Dumptruck because she always paid out loads of money. For some reason Dumptruck left me broke and the unbeatable gave it all back. It’s probably good for tips either way to have a story going.

When we don’t have control of something we look for an explanation from what we do know. We must be lucky or unlucky, someone must be taking advantage of us, or god must love/hate us.

I’m not sure what being the change lady in a casino pays, but I’m pretty sure if you can tell within 5 minutes when a machine is going to hit a jackpot, you can probably make enough to leave that gig. More likely she was advising your wife to play three coins because 1) there are usually bonus games after a jackpot of a certain size that only come into effect if you’ve played the maximum coins, those bonuses change the odds and usually tip them closer to even. 2) If she’s a good casino employee she probably wants you putting as many coins in as possible 3) big winners are happy, everyone likes happy 4) If you do hit after she’s told you, do you tip her?

Regarding 300,000 spins, how exactly would you count that as a security guard or the change lady? The odds may be 300,000 to 1 and that may be what the security guard was basing his statement on. Even if a machine gets 3000 plays a day and you have all 500 machines on the floor mapped out in your mind, how could you possibly remember number 343 is at 299,990 today and only needs 10 for the big payout. Or even that it’s the 100th day since the last jackpot on that machine? Counting cards is tough, but if someone can pull off tracking slots in that manner I believe they’ve missed their calling.

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