Debunking Slot Myths: Part 1
Gambling is one of the most lucrative industries worldwide, and, as with most popular activities, myths soon follow. Over our time streaming slots, interacting with viewers, and reading the chat during our Live Streams, we have seen a lot of myths, misinformation, and some strong opinions regarding gambling. During this series, we will be looking at some of the most common slot myths regarding gambling and online slots, and uncovering the truth.
There is a connection between superstition and myths. A large amount of the myths we have heard regarding gambling relate to our feelings as players: feeling like a win is due, feeling lucky, feeling like a slot isn't playing well, and feeling like we are “owed” a win from a slot.
Our first myth we'll be looking at today is one of the most common. It's one we have heard a multitude of times, from a variety of people and players:
“Never Leave a Hot Slot”
A lot of players believe that slots can streak. This goes in both directions, with players believing slots can be on a hot, or a cold streak. We often find ourselves advised by players during a stream to stay on a slot that seems to be playing particularly well. But is this just another one of the slot myths we frequently hear? The fact of the matter is that a slot feeling hot or cold is a myth. It is only an indication of previous spins taken. If you have won, the slot will feel hot, and if you have lost, the slot will feel cold.
These feelings are exactly that; feelings. Whilst it is understandable that you can feel a certain way based upon if you win or lose, it isn't possible to predict the outcome of your next spin, or your next 100 spins. Just because you've won in your previous spins, does not indicate that you will continue winning. On the other side of this coin, we have players who believe that if they have an extremely well paying bonus, the slot is less likely to pay out again, as they have “emptied it”.
The fact that slots don't streak is actually good news, and things would be a lot worse for players if slot machines could go on cold, or even hot, streaks. If we take away the randomness of gambling we are left with the idea of players winning money based upon intuition, or players losing money as a result of not being able to “read” the slot correctly.
Slot machines being completely random mean that you don't have to worry about anything that has happened prior when you choose to play again, with regards to your likelihood of winning. Players don't have to avoid their favourite game if they have recently had what is perceived as “too many” big wins whilst playing it, or similarly not enough wins. We ourselves have felt like we have experienced a slot streak, like our experience on The Goonies last month, but being able to differentiate between feelings and fact is important.
Slot Machines Are Like Flipping A Coin
The easiest way to understand the true randomness of slots is to consider flipping a coin. Each toss of the coin is 50/50 heads vs tails. If you toss the coin and it lands on heads, it becomes no more or less likely that it will land on heads the next time. If you toss 10 coins in a row and each one lands on heads, the chance of landing heads on your next toss does not change. Future outcomes are not determined by previous outcomes.
If we compare this to how some players view slots, there are two viewpoints. The first is the most common, which would be that the coin is “streaking”, and that after landing 10 heads in a row, there is a greater chance that the next toss will be heads. The second is that after landing 10 heads in a row, which is already extremely unlikely to us, there is a one in a million chance of another head landing, so therefore it will surely be tails. As we've already said, and as with our coin example, players tend to view slots as hot or cold, and choose to either continue playing as they feel they have a great chance of winning, or they run away as they feel the slot couldn't possibly continue to pay out.
So How Do Slots Work?
According to 21.co.uk, a UKGC licensed online casino “Every online slot uses a random number generator (RNG) to determine the outcome of each spin. This ensures that the results are completely random every time; each spin has the same chance of winning as the next and is not influenced by past results.
It might sound very simple: random number generators work by randomly generating a number. That's right – but a random number generator is at the heart of every online slot game.
To be clear, we're talking here about online slots offered by legitimate casinos like 21.co.uk; these must be independently certified, to make sure they are both random and fair, before going live to players.
Behind the game is a series of numbers. Imagine a 5×5 grid, for example, with each square representing a number from 1 to 25. A few of these numbers have been previously designated as winning numbers, while the rest are losers. Imagine, for example, that the numbers 9, 17, and 24 have been selected as winners, correlating to a certain symbol on the reel.
When you click on the button to spin the slots, the random number generator will spring into action. If it selects 24, congratulations! You're a winner! But if it lands on 23, you're out of luck. When the reels stop, the algorithms behind the game calculate your winnings or losses. This applies to your balance in a matter of milliseconds.
When the spin button is clicked, random number generators generate winning combinations in fractions of a second. Each spin is also unique, which means that the results from your last spin won’t affect the results from your next. Each spin is therefore equally as likely to land the jackpot as another spin.”
It is important to be aware that no matter what we do whilst playing a slot we cannot change a process. We cannot alter the Random Number Generator.
In terms of when you feel like you have “just” lost because the scatter symbol is just off the screen, or one more symbol and you would have had a huge win, there is very little relevance to the randomness. A losing spin is a losing spin. It does not matter if there was no chance of any winning combination, or if you were one symbol away from winning.
Regulations Surrounding Randomness
Thankfully, within the United Kingdom the United Kingdom Gambling Commission exists to regulate the casinos people play at. For players outside the UK, other countries have their own regulatory bodies to monitor online casinos. Within the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards (2017), in section RTS 7, titled “Generation of random outcomes Gaming (including bingo), lotteries, and betting on virtual events, we can read the following requirements:
RTS aim 7
To ensure that games and other virtual events operate fairly.
RTS requirement 7A
Random number generation and game results must be ‘acceptably random’. Acceptably random
here means that it is possible to demonstrate to a high degree of confidence that the output of the
RNG, game, lottery and virtual event outcomes are random through, for example, statistical
analysis using generally accepted tests and methods of analysis. Adaptive behaviour (ie a
compensated game) is not permitted.
Where lotteries use the outcome of other events external to the lottery, to determine the result of
the lottery the outcome must be unpredictable and externally verifiable.
And finally, we can read in the Gaming Payouts area of the UKGC website: “Random machines rely purely on statistical probabilities to achieve their target percentage return to player. The odds of achieving a win remain constant, and are not affected by previous wins or losses.”
“Must Pay Jackpots” In Line With Randomness
Must pay jackpot slots are random just like any other online slot. It does not make it less random that the jackpot must be won before a certain moment in time. This can be understood by considering the RTP of a slot (Return to Player). If a slot has an RTP of 98%, it does not change the fact that it is random. It is important not to let slot myths get in the way of fact. The slot returning a certain amount does not change this. The fact remains, that each spin is not determined by previous spins, and your likelihood of winning is entirely random. The Remote Technical Standards, available on the UKGC website, state that RTP of a Progressive Jackpot Slot should be measured by the base game, not including the jackpots, as they can reach very high amounts and are extremely volatile.
Slots Are Like Goldfish – They Have No Memory
So there we have it, slot machines are random, and the next spin cannot be determined by the previous. We can appreciate and understand that our feelings can very much contradict fact. We too know all too well the feeling that we are playing a hot, or a cold slot. Slot myths can get inside our heads. It is important to remember that slots are random. You should never feel as though you have made a mistake that has led to a loss of money. Similarly, it is important not to feel as though certain decisions can lead to “beating” online slots, or profiting. Gambling should not be used as a source of income.
Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 of Debunking Slot Myths: Streamer RTP.
When the fun stops, stop. Visit BeGambleAware.org for more info.