Myths vs. Reality

# Winning at Slot Machines vs. the Random Number Generator

Written by

During a live conversation recently I was asked this very simple, yet very good question:

If the slots are using Random Number Generator, how can anyone truly win?

The reality is, over time, people should not win at slots. They’re designed with a house advantage in favor of the casino. So, it’s not unreasonable to expect your win/loss record to show a loss at the end of the year.

The more you play, the more likely your win/loss will approach what the casino expects to pay you back over time. Casinos are designed with mathematics in mind, and the math simply works.

The Random Number Generator itself is operating within a set number of outcomes based on total reel stops, total combinations possible and so on, and selecting from that stack.

The expectation is any one stop will over some number of spins be visited about as often as any other, and so there’s more losing stops than winning ones, and cumulatively those stops will deliver some percentage of the total wagers to the casino.

This setup doesn’t mean you can’t win one night, or even one month, or in occasional cases even one year – it’s certainly possible! The math isn’t a smooth straight line – a player could pick up a few handpays and get way ahead, or get no handpays and fall way behind.

In the second half of 2021 I went on a streak that halved my losses for the year thanks to a series of handpays, winning casino trips and unusually good outcomes. But that first half of the year was worse than normal, and the two sides sort of balanced each other out in the end.

How can anyone truly win at slots? Those who win a huge jackpot can stop playing and have a lifetime win, of course, but going into a casino and expecting to win without acknowledging the reality of how a casino is designed is a recipe for failure, potentially unhealthy habits like chasing losses, and overall not the best mindset to enter the casino.

That’s why I always encourage people to assume that the money they bring to a casino, just like the budget they bring to any entertainment venue, is likely to be spent by the end of the night. If you win, or bring some money home, that’s great! But it shouldn’t be the expectation.