One of the gambling fallacies I never could figure out was the whole “hot” and “cold” thing, regarding slot and video poker machines. Lets say for example a women plays for an hour at a machine and loses the entire time. The machine just eats her money. She gets up and leaves. Am I suppose to stay away from the machine because it is “cold”, or am I suppose to jump on it because it’s soon to be “hot” and due to hit. I’ve always been confused by this. How does someone argue one way or the another and feel they have a strong argument over the other side. Many have chosen a side and they will vigorously defend it.
I was reading a book on slot machines. Slot machine books are always interesting because as soon as they begin to tell you there is a way to win, you know the book is garbage and not based in mathematical fact. The books that are straight up with the reader and say you can never win but here are a few tips to help you lose less, I will take the time to read.
Towards the beginning of this book the author begins to tell this story of a casino employee. He says the employee would watch the slot machines everyday and at night he would come back and play the machines that did not hit all day. I guess he bought into the whole soon to be “hot” and “due to hit” theory. The author explains how the employee had this system worked out and he began making so much money he was able to quit his job at the casino. My first question was if he quit his job, how would he know which machines are “hot”, I mean “cold”, whatever he thought they were? Once I decided that question was irrelevant, because the whole story had no factual basis, I came to my senses and threw the book away.
I guess the whole concept of randomness is too hard to believe. The fact that when you sit down at a machine it doesn’t matter whether the machine has just hit the jackpot or hasn’t hit it in weeks. Maybe if word gets out that it’s completely random, the machines won’t be as fun to play for some. Maybe thousands of people will stop playing because their system won’t work if it is completely random. I don’t know.
I’m still confused. Let’s take the same situation as before except this time the women has won for an hour straight. She can’t do anything wrong, every time she hits the spin button she wins. After an hour her husband comes by and they go off to dinner. Do I jump on the machine because it’s still “hot”, or do I stay away because she took all the money from it.
Another system I find interesting is the system where you test a machine to see if it’s hot. Time and time again I will be playing a video poker machine and there will be 5-6 people play the machine next to me in a 15 minute span. If I’m playing the $1 denomination or $5 per hand, they will come put twenty dollars in play 4 hands or until the money is gone and leave. At first I thought they were just taking a shot at the big time. Maybe they didn’t have much money and usually played nickels. They wanted to put a twenty in and see if they got lucky.
This wasn’t it because I saw the same people going from dollar to dollar machine. Then it hit me, they’re testing to see if the machine is “hot.” They play a small amount of money and if the machine is “hot” they will start to win and the money will keep rolling out. If the machine is “cold” they simply move to another machine. Wow, you’ve got to have a lot of patience for this method. You spend more time moving from machine to machine then actually playing. Now that I think of it, for those that use this method that is probably a good thing because they will lose less money.
If they play $20 and lose all 4 hands then get up and leave, what I need to do is jump on the machine because it is due to hit, or is it still “cold?” I don’t know I’m not smart enough to figure it all out.