Is it possible to beat slot machines if you play smart and long enough? It is commonly accepted that collecting more data over time offers a more accurate overview of a subject. This applies when testing whether the rate at which an online slot game pays out actually matches the developer-stated figures.
Riding the volatility wave
A survey of slot enthusiasts will likely reveal stories of varying experiences with ‘luck’ when playing their chosen titles. This is due to the volatile nature of slot games which on average have higher levels of variance than casino games.
Slots offer larger jackpots and more frequent and varied winning opportunities than players can achieve with casino games. Blackjack and Baccarat players often only gain wins at around 1.5x their bets while slots can routinely dish out prizes worth 100x or more the value of the bet.
The Scientific Method
Evaluating whether a player can beat slot machines involves looking at a slot’s performance over time in the real world. That would be a mammoth task, but fortunately a computer software makes it possible to create a simulated environment
The subject of this study is an online slot game, with information taken from its pay table. The title has a claimed RTP of 94%, moderate variance, a 21.5% win frequency, and a 21.6% hit frequency. The jackpot is set at $500, and the chosen bet is $0.10.
The next step is to simulate player activity, modeled around an individual’s ‘typical’ 4-5 day long weekend playing slots in Las Vegas. The assumed activity was an amount of 12 000 over 20 hours. A total of 100 000 individual players were generated for this study.
The simulation measured the players’ total winnings after 2 million hours of combined play. Across all the participants, the average loss was $71.44.
1.6% of players fell into the ‘lucky’ category, winning the $500 jackpot and 3.6% managed to win more than they lost. This indicates that even an extended play session of this nature may not guarantee a winning result.
A Longer Run
To get a wider perspective, a 5-week version of the same scenario was run, totaling 60 000 spins per player. The percentage of winners came out higher at 5.1%, but the story that this particular figure does not tell, is that the average player will lose more money the longer they play.
The data ultimately revealed that longer play sessions mean that an individual player only gains more variance in the amounts they could win or lose. Slots with larger jackpots also appear to create a smaller percentage of jackpot winners on average, so players should remain aware that they may never beat slot machines, even when spending more time in front of their favorite games. That may not end with the spectacular results they hope for.
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