Is there a legal, scientific way to gain an edge playing online slots and slot tournaments for real money? Though the preconceived notion is that programming makes the games random and unbeatable, this is not the complete story.
Slot machines with a progressive payout structure, jackpots that increase with coin-in, are either programmed to have to hit at a certain value or they increase in value indefinitely until someone hits the respective jackpot.
What does progressive play mean for slot players? As progressive values increase, house advantage moves in favor of the player. A progressive machine with a base payback of 94% may become a 98% machine if the progressive is high enough. In a few rare and special cases, progressives can get high enough to turn that Vegas style-slot machine into a neutral expectation (100% payback) game, or even a positive proposition for players.
Having an edge
Though slots are not typically thought of as a form of gambling where a player can have an advantage, slot clubs or playing cards, essentially casino loyalty programs, are the key to player advantages through promotions, cashback, comps, and other perks.
Think about finding a special machine with progressives high enough where the casino does not have an advantage. Or if they do, it is only a few one-hundredths of a percent. An online casino that hosts a selection of progressives and loyalty programs is, indeed, going to be better thought of than one that doesn’t in terms of gaining an edge.
Factor in the equity of winning a brand new luxury car in a drawing, earning comps for free meals and hotel rooms, cruises, and other luxuries with real cash value. Some loyalty programs may even convert points earned from slot play into real cash at an advantageous rate. Add in all of these conditions, and a once-negative expectation experience can become a lucrative one.
Generally, slot clubs or loyalty programs at casinos have tiers. This means that once the progressive jackpot hits, making the machine no longer advantageous to play, a player will retain his/her loyalty status for an extended period of time. In a corporate gaming world where single companies own several properties around the country and even around the globe, having the higher tier status continues to pay dividends. This just adds another reason behind why playing casino games can be a great activity – especially if you’re playing them frequently enough.
Slot edges have changed over time with computers. An example from a few decades back is card pulling. A player could wait until the reels lined up in a way that opens up a bonus round of sorts, digital extras that award free games, free spins, or other chances to win without having to pay for additional movement of the machine and then pull their player cards from the machine.
These cards keep track of coin-in, and wins and losses. Casino management and marketing view these to determine the value of a patron to the casino. A player’s goal is to appear to be a bigger loser in hopes of preferential treatment from casinos.
Technology at the time would often register that the player spent the money to spin the machine. However, once they pulled the card, the player account would not be updated to include the result from the activity of the bonus round. Online slots manufacturers have long since eliminated this opportunity for player advantage. Of course, that doesn’t mean that older versions of slot machines can’t be found.