Advantage Play for Slots – Slowing the Burn
Whenever I think of Advantage Play, I tend to lean towards games that offer the opportunity to gain an edge against the house, turning each bet into a positive proposition regardless of the outcome. Some types of games may not be beatable, but if those are the games you prefer, is there a way to reduce the odds against you or even gain from your losses?
More than half the time I’ve played any kind of gaming machine, I’ve either been employing a system of play or outright cheating the machine with a mechanical device. Such type of advantage play technique could be edge sorting in blackjack, for example.
And yet, I’ve hit a few legitimate jackpots while playing bar-top video poker games in Las Vegas purely to earn free drinks but have never been hooked by the playing experience. This is in contrast with other games where I’ve spent long hours counting cards, shuffle tracking, or spotting; games like Twenty-One or Craps that I actually enjoy playing when relieved of the effort required to find an edge.
So, forgive me for not being a slot player, but I truly understand the attraction of playing in relative comfort or solitude interrupted only by an (increasingly) occasional drink service. I ‘get’ how people grow attached to certain types of games or even branded machines, and I suppose I even understand how games dressed with popular TV shows, movies, or celebrities might be appealing to the casual casino visitor.
The cynic in me sees rows of slot machines as easy money for the casino, and the idea that advantage play in slots is possible by a series of button presses or a pre-determined response to supposedly random circumstances is sadly not the reality of how most games might be ‘beaten.’
”Loose” and “Tight” Slots
In the past, ‘loose’ slots were supposedly placed in places where a win would attract the most attention to draw more players. I’m assured that this was a real thing, but I remain somewhat dubious; but I’m 100% certain that modern casinos are far more sophisticated in how they manage their machines.
So how can we change the way we play to improve our odds and minimize our losses?
In the movies, Brad Pitt can set a machine to pop for the next player (AKA a ‘Susan B. Anthony’), but in the real world, this would be the result of either a very poorly designed system or foul play, but there are player actions or decisions under certain circumstances that can lead to a win if those circumstances can be identified.
Understanding game themes that might invoke a ‘win or lose’ option during the course of play is one way of beating some classes of machines in some locations. Gaining this knowledge is the real challenge and is often a matter of either stumbling onto a flaw in game design or tracking the success of other players and copying their strategy.
Skill games such as video poker do reward better decisions, but when a win/lose option is discovered in a seemingly random game, that can be profitable enough to warrant coordinated team play to take advantage of that vulnerability until someone in the casino industry wakes up to the problem.
Advantage Play in Slots – Is It Possible?
Advantage slot players are less than generous with these discoveries since it’s always a countdown to how long it takes for a gap in the fence to be repaired. If they let the whole world know how to beat a particular machine, those machines would be updated in a matter of hours, but if a potentially winning strategy is protected, it could play for months or years, depending on how many players are aware of it and how carefully they milk that cow.
How common these types of vulnerabilities are is not for me to say, but while I am certain they happen, the chances are greatly reduced in today’s casino environment due to rigorous testing of software and game design.
When there was a mechanical element to slot machines, there were many more opportunities for smart players to beat those machines purely through trial and error. In fact, many players secretly (illegally) got their hands on a machine (usually thanks to crooked casino staff) and experimented for hundreds of hours, ultimately taking the machine apart to learn how it operated.
Modern Slot Machines and Their Software
With software, this process is far more difficult but not unfeasible, and should game code fall into the wrong hands, it could be tested with millions of virtual spins to identify what course of action might improve a player’s chances.
Teams of players can even track progressive games where chances of a win are greatly improved by a secret, pre-determined jackpot limit; once a game reaches these secret limits, it is far more likely to pay out, and a coordinated playing attack may prove worthwhile.
Modern slots are managed by network software that ensures the casino is meeting state or national requirements in terms of payouts and make adjustments accordingly, sometimes paying out more to balance the numbers.
Such variations may be trackable, but unless you have really accurate long-term data that illustrates a predictable pattern (which would represent a serious flaw in management software), I’d personally advise against any system that claims to rely on such a scenario.
This brings me to my main concern with regard to slot systems in general: Any system you can buy to apparently improve your odds or give you an advantage is either bogus or out of date.
In fact, the market for outdated systems might make more money than the system itself since most strategies require a lot of luck to find and even more work to make profitable. But sell that same system to the unwary, and you could make thousands from hopeful players who somehow believe the casinos aren’t already aware of the problem (if it even existed).
Tips on Maximizing Your Return with Slots
If the goal is reducing your losses and maximizing your return rather than gaining an edge or forcing a jackpot, there’s still a way to get much more from your gambling dollar, pound, or euro.
I remember when the book ‘Comp City’ was published. It offered a strategy for maximizing casino comps and freebies based on how much money a player was willing to risk on a daily basis. In brief, you are guaranteed to deposit a certain amount and play for an agreed minimum bet for a fair number of hours; in return, the casino host would give you a room, restaurant privileges, lots of free drinks, and even tickets to a show.
None of this was illegal, of course, merely a proven strategy for getting the most out of a trip to Sin City, and if you played basic-strategy blackjack from a ten-thousand-dollar deposit, you might get your whole weekend for a couple of hundred bucks or even go home with a small profit.
The problem was that by the time the book was released, the gravy train had already derailed, and anyone attempting to follow that advice would find casino hosts much less generous and much more demanding. But while Comp City might not be wide open, it’s not entirely closed.
If you’re playing at a resort that you like or even in high roller casinos in Las Vegas, try to connect with a host and ask if your play might earn you a free trip in the future. Your player-card tracks how long you play and how much you bet, but any automatic rewards are based on casino policies, but there’s always a chance you could ask for more if you agreed to increase your bets or playing hours, and there’s also a chance your current playing level might gain more consideration depending on the dates you choose to play.
Low-ball players are hardly as attractive to casino hosts as the whales they dream of, but if you’re a healthy bettor willing to book your next trip off-season, you might be worth offering a free hotel room and a fistful of buffet tickets. And if a host declines your offer, ask how much more they need from you in terms of play or when your business might be more interesting to them.
You can also cold call casinos to ask for consideration but be aware that plenty of other players try this but without some sort of verifiable playing history, you have little leverage and will most likely be invited to come and play next time you’re in town so they can properly assess you.
This applies to any live casino game, and since slots can be a much slower drag on your bankroll if you play wisely, that might actually be the simplest way to secure a worthwhile advantage.
If casinos are overrun with tourists, they really don’t need to offer incentives to anyone except big-money players, but if you can help fill days or weeks where the gaming floor is half-empty, you might be just who they’re looking for.
This isn’t as sexy as hitting a secret sequence of buttons to score a million-dollar jackpot, but it can balance the cost of your playing experience, and there has to be an advantage to that.