A Systems Approach to Slots

Jim Wilson makes a monthly excursion to Caesars Palace. He flies from his home in suburban Chicago and spends a long weekend in Las Vegas, taking in shows, betting on an occasional sporting event, but mainly playing the slots. Jim knows that Caesars Palace is known for its high-limit table game players, but has come to realize that in most cases slot players are valued just as highly by the casinos. With a gambling budget each trip of about $1,000, Jim can play for hours each day and
still have a good chance of winning.

Slots are not like table games where a player can estimate the house advantage and play accordingly. On slot machines, a player never knows what the house advantage is. It can vary anywhere from 2 per cent to 30 per cent.

Jim made the most important move the first time he came to Caesars Palace. He joined the Emperors Club, Caesars’ club for slot players. He received his players’ club card, which he inserts in the card reader available at every Caesars Palace slot machine. That way his play is recorded by the casino, and he becomes eligible for the various levels of complimentaries the casino prorides to its better players.

When Jim arrives, he divides his $1,000 fund into four slots of $250, one for each of his four-day stay. He then divides that daily fund into five sessions of $50 each. That way, Jim is not held hostage to a brutal losing streak and will not lose his entire stake during one gambling session. Jim’s next step is to decide what machine’ to play. In most eases, dollar machines will pay back at a
greater rate than 25 cent machines. But should he be unlucky, his session stake could disappear more quickly at the dollar machines. He also knows that his Emperors Club points pile up at a much faster rate on the dollar machines. Jim feels confident, so he choose to play the dollar machines.

Being a frequent player, Jim realizes that there are several different varieties of machines, aside from the brands and themes. Multi-casino, linked, progressive-slot machines offer huge payouts that can reach as high as $10 million. While those machines are attractive, and their overall payout percentage may be comparable to other $1 machines, unless a player wins the hig jackpot, the payouts are infrequent and small Other single-casino progressive machines offer high jackpots, but the payout
percentages are again weighted towards the big payout, and smaller jackpots are less likely. So Jim opts for the machines that offer smaller top awards, but payout more frequently. That gives him a better chance to break even or possibly win a hit.

Jim’s next step is a little less than scientific, but he has used it to good success. “Scouting the slots”, as Jim calls it, allows him to take note of which slots seem to be more active. If he sees a player winning steadily, he mentally notes the type and location of machine, and later may return to that spot to try it himself.

While a “hot” machine can be explained as the computer program cycling through a payout period, Jim also knows that some machines are set at a higher payout than others. It therefore follows that certain machines permanently pay more than others, Jim has found this to be the case on many occasions.

Another tool that Jim uses is the slot attendants, the employees who work the slot section. Jim knows they work long shifts with nothing else to do but watch the slot machines. On many occasions, he has asked a slot attendant to steer him to a machine that is “due”. While it doesn’t always work, it has paid off often enough. Jim now has “friends” in the Caesars Palace slot department who understand that when Jim hits a jackpot on a machine they recommend, they get a hefty tip.

Jim finally settles in at a $1 machine, and begins to play. He always inserts the maximum number of coins because he doesn’t want to lose out on the bonus paid when the top award is hit.

After falling behind, he begins to make some small hits until he enters the “plus” column. At every session, Jim sets a goal of 20 per cent. When he wins $50, he quits. He then puts the $300 in an envelope and mails it home. He won’t be tempted, and he’ll leave Las Vegas without having lost everything.