Darryl D. McEwen

Recently a colleague sent me information about a book on how to win at slots. The author claims he’s won millions and wants to share his secrets.

The book is self-published and available only on a popular website that sells everything from videos to clothing. Reader reviews were not exactly glowing. One suggested the author should have used his word-processing program’s spelling and grammar check features.

Curious, I searched for other books offering similar advice. Nearly 50 popped up in my browser.

Hopefully, none of you reading this have wasted your money on them.

The long and short of it: There is no system that can guarantee you wins — big or otherwise.

That pesky random number generator (RNG) spoils all the fun. If you don’t know already, the RNG is a computer program buried inside every slot machine designed to generate a sequence of numbers that cannot reasonably be predicted better than by random chance. The numbers this program generates then translate into whatever symbols are pictured on the machine’s reels. Those designated sets of symbols in a pre-determined order award your prize.

“But,” you say, “I’ve seen people who seem to ‘know’ all the tricks, like when to stop the reels at the exact moment a winning combination is about to appear.”

Sorry, but if you do think they’re stopping the reels on a winning combination, it was just luck. Once you hit the “play” button or pull a handle, the RNG determines the outcome. Games of skill may soon appear in your favorite casino, but they’re not here yet.

“Yes, but I’ve seen players who pull their player card and start winning.”

Again, if so, it’s just coincidence. There is absolutely no connection between the player card reader and the RNG. They’re two separate programs and you’re just losing out if you don’t play with that card in the machine. That’s how a casino determines your value, and what generates your offers for future free slot play, comped rooms and meals, and eligibility for other promotions.

I’ve witnessed my share of kooky ways players think they’re going to “fool” the machine into paying off. Some cash out their balance, then put in a fresh bill so the machine “thinks” someone new has sat down and will pay off. Slot machines don’t think.

Then there are those who hit every button in some order known only to them — often playing a tune (like in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) from the sounds each button generates. One lady built a miniature shrine with stuffed animals and pictures of her grandchildren. Others literally punch the screen, sometimes screaming at it like it was small child behaving badly.

Since these tricks don’t work consistently, you’d think these players would realize there’s no magic involved in getting the machines to pay off. Also, if there was a real system that guaranteed wins, wouldn’t everyone be using it and wouldn’t casinos just go out of business?

Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, players club or other promotion? Email Darryl at MrACCasino@gmail.com and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question — without your name — may appear in a future column.

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