Game themes change, bonuses change, but slot machine misconceptions are forever. I know, because I see them in my inbox all the time. We can’t see the inner game being played on the random number generator, so our minds try to fill in the gaps. My mid-September email brought a note from a slot player who was trying to apply his old three-reel slot system to video slots. Truth be told, the system didn’t really work on three-reel slots, but let’s let Liza explain.
“When is it the right time to raise your bet on the slots?” Liza asked in her email. “I always liked to give a machine a chance to warm up a little when they were all three-reels. I’m not sure when to make the move with all those paylines.
“Here’s the way I used to play on quarter three-reel games where there was a three-coin max bet. I’d start playing one coin at a time. I’d leave the bet at one for at least 10 spins, but wouldn’t raise it at all until I had at least three winners.
“Once I had some spins and a few winners, then I’d raise to the three-coin max. They always used to say to bet max coins.”
Specifics varied, but systems much like Liza’s have been around for decades. When I first started playing, long before I started writing about gambling, I read books that advised letting the machine warm up before making a move to bigger bets.
Liza still wants to play that way, but was unsure how to apply it to video slots.
“There are so many lines on video slots that you’re winning a little something on a lot of spins. To me, that makes things not so clear cut.
“On three reels, I didn’t win as often, but almost all the wins would be at least five times my bet. On video, I might be playing 40 lines and win on only one. Maybe I’ll get five credits after betting 40.
“Getting a few wins that way were I lose money isn’t seeing the machine warm up. Not in my book. So what do I do? Wait until I get at least three wins bigger than my bet? Wait for a bonus. I start at one coin per line, but want to get to three coins per line.”
I had to break the news to Liza that betting low until a machine warms up doesn’t help slot players at all. Odds on slot machines are the same on every spin. The random number generator works from the same number set on every spin. All results are possible every time you spin the reels, and the odds against any specific combination appearing on the screen is the same regardless of how long you’ve played. The RNG doesn’t know how long you’ve been playing. whether you’ve been betting big or small, or if you’ve been winning or losing. All the RNG does is generate random numbers, then other programming maps those numbers onto reel positions, wins and losses. There is no warm-up time leading up to a game being ready to pay out. Liza is just as likely to win during her small bet time as when she raises her wager. That was true on three-reel slots just as it’s true on video slots. This system never made winning more likely. If Liza or any other player wants to try time bigger and smaller bets, that’s their choice. But the system doesn’t change slots’ payback percentages even a little bit.