Everybody has that one friend who is extremely superstitious and walks around with a lucky rabbit foot on their keychain. Even Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, insisted on wearing his college basketball shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls uniform for good luck.
Did this special pair of shorts help him to become one of the best basketball players in the world? Did this superstition help his shot to go in more often than it normally would have? The answer is that it probably did not help in any way, although there have been some recent studies that show that superstition can be helpful in certain scenarios.
One of these recent studies took place in 2010 at the University of Cologne in Germany where they took a group of 41 students and tested them with and without their superstitious lucky charms. Ironically, the ones who were able to bring their superstitious lucky items ended up doing better on the tests. The takeaway from this test was that whether superstitions are real or not, they may have an impact on how much people believe in themselves and how hard they are willing to try to reach their goals.
However, when it comes to slot machines, a sample size of 41 spins is simply not going to cut it. These machines have a house edge that is built into them which cannot be overcome even after billions or even trillions of spins, so a willingness to try harder is not going to help much. The main goal of playing on a slot machine is to have as much fun as possible, not to try and get so good at them that you can quit your day job.
I will now explore some of the various superstitions that lots of players have when it comes to playing slot machines and try to explain why they are so silly. Most of these superstitions are based on the gambler’s fallacy, which is a mistaken belief that assumes that if one thing happens more than normal during one period of time that it will happen less frequently in the future.
One of the most common superstitions that slot machine players have is thinking switching machines is going to make any difference whatsoever. The truth of the matter is that every seat is the exact same at all times. The ONLY exception to this rule is if one seat gets you the attention of the bartender or cocktail waitress more easily, in which case that seat certainly has some added value.
Some people might try to be results-oriented when you tell them switching machines does not affect anything, and they will bring up a story about how they were on a cold machine, moved over one seat and hit a massive jackpot. They credit this changing of seats to the winning of the jackpot, but in reality, the odds were exactly the same to hit that jackpot in both seats.
Being results-oriented means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, and it is a terrible way to think about outcomes. For example, let’s assume that you randomly started walking backward one day for the entire day, and at one point you accidentally avoided getting hit by a piano that was falling from the sky. If you were to use the same results-oriented logic as those who switch slot machines constantly, you would argue that walking backward is the safest way to walk, when in reality you just got lucky, and it has nothing to do with how you were walking.
Pulling the Lever Instead of Pushing the Button
This is one of the funniest superstitions that people use when playing on slot machines simply because it is so absurd. If you think that casinos go out of their way to purposely program the lever to be any luckier than pushing the buttons, then I have some tinfoil hats for sale that you might be interested in.
What is really happening here is that people tend to remember the times when they won big, and they try to replicate those same conditions. It does not matter whether the conditions are the same or not, because the random number generator that determines the outcome of each spin is already programmed into the machine. There is no part of this random number algorithm that takes into account which buttons were pressed.
Waiting a Certain Amount of Time Between Each Spin
This superstition has no logic behind it whatsoever, since the random number generator that controls the outcome does not care how much time goes by in between spins. The outcomes will be equally as random if you wait 100 years in between each spin as they would be if you were pulling the reel as fast as possible.
Even if there was a slot machine that somehow used the time of day to help it come up with random outcomes, there would be no way to predict which times of day were lucky or whether that lucky time would remain the same from day to day. Casinos are not going to program little Easter egg secrets like this into their slots because it would only lose them money once word got out about them. If you are looking for Easter egg tricks to take advantage of then you should start playing some Super Mario games instead.
Lowering Stakes When Hot, Raising Stakes When Cold
This is a classic case of the gambler’s fallacy, which is a belief that a hot slot machine will turn cold soon, or that a cold slot machine is expected to rain money on you. In actuality, neither of these things are guaranteed to happen, since the result of each spin has absolutely nothing to do with the results of any other spins.
Some people’s response to this might be that “It is due to hit now that it went cold for a while!” or “It is due to go cold since I just won a bunch of spins in a row!” However, these people are guilty of an innocent misunderstanding of the fact that the probability of hitting a jackpot on each spin is EXACTLY the same every time.
Those who believe in this sort of fallacy will probably be shocked to learn that there are slot players in this world who have hit a jackpot more than once in their lifetime, even though the odds of doing so were extremely low. They were “due” to go cold for awhile since they had just hit a jackpot, but then they hit another one simply because the odds of each spin are completely the same no matter what happened previously.
On the contrary, there are those who have never won a jackpot in their life despite playing slot machines every day. If the odds of hitting a jackpot has a built-in chance of hitting once every 2 million spins, it is still possible for a player to make 10 million spins and never win one of these jackpots.
There is nothing contributing to these types of situations outside of luck and randomness, despite what your brain might be telling you. Life isn’t fair sometimes, and some people get to be luckier than others.
Playing While Drunk
The final common superstition that I will cover today is when people think that they play better when they are drunk. There is no such thing as “playing better” in slot machines, there is only playing and not playing. You might have had more fun when you were playing slots while drunk, but that has nothing to do with the outcomes of the game. The random number generators that decide the outcomes in slot machines do not include the “level of fun the player is having” variable into their advanced algorithms.
The same thing goes for those who think that they play better when they do not drink. While there are definitely certain games where you will be more effective when you are sober, slot machines are not one of them. This is something that only those who are playing games like blackjack or poker should be concerned with, since there is strategy involved in those games, and you have to use your brain sometimes.
The lesson to be learned here is to stop trying to find shortcuts or secret ways to win and just enjoy your time spent gambling on slot machines. As human beings, we try to find patterns in confusing situations so that we can try to make sense of what is going on, but the truth about slot machines is that there is no pattern to be found. While superstitions may serve a psychological purpose in other walks of life, slot machine outcomes are unaffected by such beliefs.
The only thing that you should be concerned with while playing slot machines is to have the most fun per dollar that you possibly can. While none of these games are beatable in the long run, you can still try to find machines that have a lower house edge than others, so that you can prolong your fun without having to put more money in. Any result outside of that is purely due to luck, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will stop torturing yourself with illogical superstitious beliefs.