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Do the last player's results matter at the slots?

Do the last player's results matter at the slots?

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. Sometimes when you first sit down at a slot you’ll see a message on the screen that says, “Game paid 989 credits” or “Game paid, $40.37,” or something like that.

Is it better to play a game that just paid out $1,000 or 11 cents? Do you want to follow a big winner or someone who hasn’t done so well?

I’m wary of being the next player after a big jackpot, so I’m not likely to play after a $1,000 winner, but I don’t know if it’s just a cold machine, so I don’t like following someone who just cashed out 11 cents, either. Is there a happy medium, where maybe it’s best to follow someone who chased out $18 or something like that?

A. The best thing to do with such information is to ignore it. Play the games you like and don’t worry about previous players’ results.

Regular readers know it comes up frequently here that results on slot machines are as random as humans can program software to be. Past results don’t affect future outcomes. It doesn’t matter if previous players won, lost or broke even. For you, the odds remain the same on every spin.

Besides that, you don’t really know how much the previous player won or lost be seeing how much was cashed out. You don’t know the size of the buy-in, for starters. Did the player start with $20 in the bill validator? $5? $100?

Did he or she start with a ticket from another machine? Was the player betting with credits from a big win elsewhere? Was the $1,000 cashout the result of a loss after starting with a ticket for $1,118.42? Was the 11-cent cashout what was left from a player who was finishing off a $2.84 ticket before leaving?

Yes, the most likely scenario for a big cashout is a big win at that machine, but all those other scenarios and more happen. Judging previous players’ results is largely guesswork, and it’s guesswork that doesn’t really matter since results are random.

Q. I don’t really understand why the house edge in craps is so much higher on 5 or 9 and 4 and 10 than on 6 or 8, on the place bets.

I mean, I understand why casinos make house edges higher. It’s to make money. I just don’t get the math I guess. On 4 or 10, the true odds against winning are 2-1, and you’re paid 9-5. That doesn’t seem that much different, but the house edge is 6.67 percent. On 5 or 9, true odds are 3-2 and you’re paid 7-5, and the house edge is 4 percent.

Are those really that much different than 6 and 8, where true odds are 6-5 and you’re paid 7-6, with a 1.42 percent house edge? The difference between true odds and the payoffs don’t seem that different.

A. On 4 or 10, the 2-1 odds against winning mean that if paid at true odds, each $1 wagered on a winning bet would bring you $2. The 9-5 payoff means that for each $1, you really get back $1.80 on winners.

On 5 or 9, the 3-2 odds mean you’d win $1.50 per $1 if paid at true odds. The 7-5 payoff means you’re paid $1.40 per $1.

On 6 or 8, the 6-5 odds means you’d win $1.20 per $1 if paid at true odds. The 7-6 payoff means you’re paid $1.17.

The gap between what you’d win at true odds and actual payoffs is much narrower on 6 and 8. Hence, the house edge is lower.

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