Can You Predict When A Slot Will Pay Out?

  • Updated
  • By Rachael Phillips
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You’ll no doubt be familiar with the humble slot machine. After all, they’re a staple of many casinos, bars and cafes across the world.

Slot machines, both online and land-based, are so popular that over the years, many myths and misconceptions have popped up surrounding the way they work. Mainly, is it possible to beat the system and predict a win?

Some players believe that they have a cast iron strategy for winning online slots but in reality, there’s no such thing.

The idea that online slots and casino games are fixed is inaccurate. Online casinos are regulated and part of that regulation process indicates that games can’t legally be altered for the benefit of the provider.

Random Number Generators

Every online slot game should be using a Random Number Generator to ensure every game is fair and in line with regulations. If it isn’t, you’ve got bigger problems than game fixing.    

As the name suggests, RNGs are completely random. They create arbitrary sequences of numbers every millisecond which means any previous spins won’t have any influence on the winning sequence.

So, let’s imagine you’ve just witnessed a slot payout the jackpot. That doesn’t mean that the person playing afterwards doesn’t have the same odds as the jackpot winner. Think of it like flipping a coin. If you’ve landed heads, it doesn’t mean that the next flip is guaranteed to be tails, despite the 50/50 chance because the odds are the same as the first time you flipped.

The likelihood that you’ll be a winner is down to a simple mathematical equation, one that can’t be doctored or predicted.

Gambler’s Fallacy

Gambler’s fallacy, aka the Monte Carlo Fallacy, is a common misconception that if something hasn’t happened for a long time then it becomes “overdue” and therefore more likely to happen. It's named after an incident that happened at the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco in 1913.

At a roulette table, the ball landed on black 26 times in a row – the longest streak of a single colour ever recorded. After the 10th black result, people couldn’t believe it and started putting larger bets on red based on the logic that black couldn’t possibly come up again.

Yet, the wheel obviously has no memory, so every time it spun, the odds of red or black coming up remained the same. And black came up a further 19 times in a row, resulting in the loss of millions for the eager gamblers.

Hot and cold cycles

When it comes to playing slot machines, whether online or land-based, sometimes you notice winning or losing streaks.

This is known in the gambling world as a hot/cold cycle. A hot cycle when a machine is paying out and a cold cycle when it’s not.

The truth is, machines don’t have hot and cold cycles, you only perceive that they do when you start to notice you’re winning or losing more. Humans are programmed to spot patterns, but we’re not that great at it.

As we’ve already discussed, slot machines don’t have a memory and every spin of the slot machine is a random, independent event.

Why do slots feel hot or cold if every spin is random?

Random data can still have trends. Going back to the coin analogy, if you flip a coin 100 times and record the results, then you’ll find likely groupings of several tails or heads in a row, even though you might expect a 50/50 result.

Because each event is random, it doesn’t mean that you'll avoid repeated results. But, what you can’t do is predict when a win or lose situation is going to happen.

The cycle only occurs if you look back and declare a string or wins or losses to be a cycle.

Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission is in place to make sure that slot machines remain fair, this is why they’re required to display the percentage Return To Player (RTP) figure or the odds of winning a prize.

But the percentage RTP figure is measured over 10,000 or 100,000 games or greater. Which means that if a slot machine displays a 75% RTP you will not win an average of 75p for every £1 you stake during a session. In fact, the Gambling Commission doesn’t set a statutory minimum percentage payout on gaming machines.

The Gambling Commission also clearly states that random machines rely on statistical probabilities to achieve their target percentage RTP. So, the odds that you will win remain constant and will not be affected by any previous wins or losses.

How to win at online slot machines

Just because you can’t predict the outcome, it doesn’t mean that you won’t win. Here are some top tips on how to maximise your chances of winning and enhance your playing experience.

  • Look for games with the highest payout percentage. The payout table varies from game to game. The higher the payout percentage is, the more likely you are to have a better return for your money.
  • Know the rules of the games you’re playing. By knowing exactly what the paylines and bonus features are for each game can help you.
  • Look out for promotions and free spins because, while they may not be a guaranteed way to win big, they will give you an extra few games for free.
  • Always consider playing a lower bet, because even though your in-play winnings may be less, you will get more games for your money.
  • Stay in control of your money. Keep track of what your spending and consider setting yourself limits because you must always adhere to the mantra that you only play what you can afford to lose.

So as you can see, it's impossible to predict a future outcome on the slots based on past results because of the random nature of the software involved.

Slot machines, in particular, are programmed to pay out a percentage over the lifetime of the machine, which in many cases is millions of spins and way more than any one person could ever play – hopefully.