For as long as there’s been gambling, there’s been people who are intent that they have a system that allows them to improve their odds and beat the house. Historically, these systems have either not worked, or turned out to be all out illegal, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still pop up on a regular basis.
This is especially true when it comes to online slot games, unlike blackjack, for example, a game where a player can benefit from strategy, and poker, which is down to skill as well as chance, slot games are entirely random and there’s nothing a player can do to change that.
However, when it comes to events that cannot be predicted with certainty, the world of probability comes in to play, and by understanding probability, chances can sometimes be increased, is this the case with slot games?
To understand the probability of slot games, there are a few aspects of this immensely popular game type that we must discuss. But first, it must be stated that probability is not close to an exact science, it is the equivalent of working out which card will come out of a shuffled deck next, probability can help with an educated guess, but it could be wrong every time until there’s only one card left.
This guide will take you through a few aspects of slot games that can help you get to grips with how probability can be used to assist you.
Random number generators, or RNGs as they are known in the abbreviation keen world of online casino play, are the tools that ensure that every spin of the reels on a slot game provides a completely random collection of symbols when the spin stops.
RNGs ensure that this occurs, and that each spin is independent from every other, so that nothing that happens randomly on one spin can affect what happens on the next one.
RNGs are used in table and card games as well (outside of live dealer games of course) but their impact is arguably most noticeable with slots.
So how does probability tie into these algorithms that create random collections of symbols?
At this point, one must consider other aspects of an individual slot game, such as how many reels, rows, and paylines it has, as well as how many symbols there are on the reels, and how many of each. The probability of a selection of symbols on the reels is then easier to understand, allegedly, but it doesn’t feel like it helps much with predicting whether your next spin will be a winning one.
However, there are ways to cut through this confusing information that could, on paper, add a small assistance to your chances of picking up a win.
Let’s start with some simple arithmetic, okay, it’s not particularly simple, but with a calculator it’s easy to do, and it could help your chances.
To work out how many possible combinations there are, you have to know how many symbols there are on each reel, and how many reels there are. Say you have a slot machine with three-reels, and six symbols on each reel, your equation is 6 x 6 x 6 = 216, so you have 216 possible combinations. A three-reel slot with ten symbols on each reel, then it becomes 10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000 possible combinations.
Now it gets a little more complex, you need to take the individual slot you are playing, and divide the total number of combinations that will produce wins by the total number of combinations there are. At this point, you can work out the odds of winning on a specific slot game.
You don’t have to do all this maths yourself however, especially if you are a hobby player, because each casino games comes with a return-to-player, or RTP (there are those abbreviations again) which is essentially the opposite of the house edge.
Now, again, it’s important to point out that the RTP is not a guarantee, it is merely the average percentage of their bets a player will get back over an extended time of playing on a particular slot game.
For example, if you are playing a slot with a 95% RTP, which is fairly average for a slot game, then over time, the odds would suggest that you would win £95 for every £100 that you wagered. Obviously, it is rare that it happens exactly this way, but you are slightly more likely to win on a slot with a 95% RTP than one with a 94% RTP, and slightly less likely than when playing a slot with a 96% RTP.
However, it isn’t only you that uses the RTP to decide how much money you are likely to make or lose, the casinos are doing it too, and as a result, certain slots will be friendlier to those who bet higher amounts, and slots with higher minimum wagers will, again, tend to be a little more generous.
The reason for this is simple, if we take the example from above of a 95% slot, if you are playing for 100 spins at 10p per spin, and the RTP happened to be exactly the same as the outcome, then you’ve spent £10, and you’ve left with £9.50, the casino having made 50p. Now, consider that same situation, but instead of 10p a spin, you’re playing at £10 a spin.
Now, you’ve spent £1,000, made £950 back, and the casino has pocketed a tidy £50. With these substantially higher profit margins on average per spin, these slots can offer higher or more frequent rewards to players.
You may assume that this means if you spend more that you’re more likely to win, but again, this is only probability and not a guarantee, it is important to never spend money at an online casino that you are not 100% sure you can afford to lose.
When it comes to probability, it’s difficult to not get caught up in it a bit if you’re not careful, and that’s why it’s important to play each spin as an individual spin.
If you’ve had ten spins in a row without a spin, you may be inclined to believe that you are now more likely to win on your next spin, but because every spins is created using a random number generator and is in no way affected by the spins that were made before it, you have exactly the same chance of picking up a win on your next spin as someone who has spun ten times and won on each one of them.
There is no way of guaranteeing an outcome when it comes to what an online slot will do on the next spin of the reels. The probability can help you to understand how high (or low) your chances of winning are, and these can help you in knowing the right slots to pick for your playing style, but you are no more likely to win on that particular slot than you were before you read this guide.
The point of this guide is to help you know what slots to pick based on probabilities, and then you can pick a slot that is most likely to pay out for you against the choices available, but, as always, there’s no guarantee.
Increasing your chances is something that everybody wants tips for when it comes to casino play, but people often forget about reducing your losses, and to most players, who do not have a limitless bank account, this is more important.
It is therefore vital to know when to stop, don’t chase losses, don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose, and never let yourself feel like you are no longer in control of your gambling.
Losing can be frustrating, but set yourself a spending limit, and if you have reached that limit, then do not spend anything further, regardless of how annoying your last loss was. In the same vein, set a win limit too, and when you hit that, withdraw your winnings. By all means leave a bit to continue playing with, but make sure you don’t just put the money you’ve won back into the machines that gave it to you!
Probability is confusing, there’s no doubt about that, but with a few simple equations, and an understanding of what the RTP is on each slot, and whether that differs depending on the amount you wager, you can work out which slots, whether online slots or those in land-based casinos and venues, are most likely to pay out for your playing style, and you never know, you could get lucky.
It’s not a system, because there is no system that can accurately predict something that is based entirely on chance, but there are ways to improve your wins and reduce your losses is you play wisely.