When you tell people at a casino that you gamble for a living, they almost always want to know "what's the luckiest slot machine?" I'm glad they'll think I have the insider to help them find a lucky spot and win some money . The thing is, I don't think there really is such a thing as a lucky slot machine.
What is the luckiest slot machine game? Some games are programmed to pay out more money over time than others - these can be considered lucky. Some slot machines pay out more frequently than others - another form of better slot machine luck.
Finally, there are individual bettors who swear by the slot machines they play better. If you can find such a slot, it must be a lucky slot, at least for you.
This article is a rundown of everything I know about the luckiest slot machines you can play, including some thoughts on unlucky slot machines and the concept of luck in gambling in general.
What makes slot machines lucky?
My huge and rather expensive Oxford English Dictionary defines "lucky" as "having good luck to take part". You get this gem when you look up "luck" - "Success or failure is brought about by chance, not by one's own actions."
OK, so when we talk about "lucky" slot machines, we're really only talking about success. And, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, we're talking about an accidental success, without the element of skill.
Some slot machine players believe that if they have multiple winning periods while playing the slot machine, they will consider the slot machine lucky.
Other slot players may win a big jackpot and treat the game with that jackpot as a "lucky slot" forever.
Mathematically speaking, those concepts of slot machine luck are far from us. Obviously, each slot machine outcome is independent of all others. Machines have no memory, no ability to sense the presence of a particular player, and no reason to pay one player over another. It just doesn't make sense when you apply a little common sense.
If slot machine luck means winning, it also means profit. If you win $1,100, who cares about winning $1,000?
Taking all of this into consideration, we can define a lucky slot machine - a lucky slot machine is any slot machine that returns a profit to the player during a specific game period.
Watered down like this, the concept loses all its charm.
However, it does allow me to write more interesting and specific blog posts because I can now quantify what makes slot machines lucky or unlucky.
Example of a high RTP slot machine
One way to easily identify the slot machine that is most likely to give you a lucky gaming experience is to find a slot machine with a relatively high theoretical RTP number.
RTP is returned to the player and represents the theoretical amount that the player may lose over a period of time. I could write tens of thousands of words on whether or not RTP is a valuable way to compare slot machine odds, but at the moment this is the only publicly available information we can use to measure the relative luck of slot machines.
RTP figures for land-based slot machines are usually between 88% and 99%, but the vast majority of them hover in the middle.
Finding those rare high RTP slot machines is an important part of an ideal slot machine gambling strategy.
Unfortunately, we often cannot identify the RTP data for a particular slot machine. This is because manufacturers tend to keep this information private. The RTP figures that do exist are not 100% accurate because slot machine designers make their games in multiple formats, and casinos are not obligated to tell players what the average RTP is for the version they offer or for a particular slot machine.
The best information generally available about slot machine RTPs is a general guide to the average RTP of the entire slot machine denomination in a given casino or jurisdiction. For example, we know that jiliko's average $0.05 slot machine has an RTP of 94.48%. This does not mean that every nickel slot machine at jiliko has that RTP, in fact it means that there are as many slot machines with higher tiers as there are slot machines with lower tiers.
The water is cloudy, that's for sure.
It's easy to see why slot machine players are back in their superstition - rational, logical information about slot machine odds is unavailable, and even publicly available information is difficult to find and interpret.
What makes slot machines unlucky?
I've spent hundreds of words analyzing what a slot machine's status as a "lucky slot machine" is, but what about an unfortunate slot machine? Does such a thing exist?
I don't want to repeat myself too much, so let's just say unlucky slot machines are the opposite of lucky ones.
Technically speaking, any slot machine that takes more money from you than it pays out is "unlucky" because the machine profits from you and you walk out of the casino with a few bucks less.
Since slot machines are actually programmed to withhold more money than they pay, most slot machines are not profitable - which basically means that slot machines are 100% unlucky, or at least by design.
I'll give a personal example of a hapless slot machine I recently played in Chicago.
I was in jiliko and I had about an hour to kill before departure. I took $100 and got sucked into the slot machine. jiliko has about 1,200 slot machines and video poker games, so I know I'll choose the machine and denomination I like.
I found a Fortune Tiger that looks tempting. It's a big, beautiful 3D slot machine with lots of loud sound effects, and I found it accepted a max bet of $3 per spin. That meant I had about 33 lost spins burning a hole in my pocket, so I put in the full $100 and started playing.
I lost everything in about thirty minutes. This is the weirdest thing. I've been waiting for the free spins round with two to chase. In my entire $100 game, I didn't get a single free spin, nor did I get any bonus features worth mentioning.
For me, Sacred Dragon was an unlucky slot machine that night.
Of course, if I had won a few hundred dollars instead of losing my chips, I would have written how lucky I was.
That's how slot machines are fickle. Here, another word for fickle is "highly volatile".
Can you improve your slot machine luck?
Nothing can affect the programming of the slot machine, which guarantees a certain amount of "luck" to everyone who plays the game. Since you can't really turn a 98% RTP slot into a 101% slot, it's fair to say there's nothing you can do to make a particular slot game more or less lucky.
However, you can shop around for slot machines with relatively high RTP numbers, or earn free slot games with slots or loyalty club points.
When you go out of your way to choose the slot machine with the highest payout, you will be luckier than playing on another machine. In a sense, playing a progressive slot machine with an RTP of 88% is less than playing a $1 slot machine with a fixed jackpot and an RTP of 99%. In theory, you should be lucky 10% on higher RTP slots.
Playing for free money is a blessing. Every dollar you win in free slot games reduces the casino's edge by a little. This means that technically, if we play fast and loose with our definition of the word "lucky", you're just making yourself "lucky" a little bit. The same goes for any casino freebies, even cheap cocktails. The more loyalty you get from the casino, the less money they will technically win from you.
When friends ask me "What's the luckiest slot machine?" I try to answer the question they really ask me.
Most people want to know which slot machines give them the best odds of winning. Some people want to know which slot machines have the most hits, or which slot machines have the most bonus rounds. Still others thought I had some insider information about a particularly lucky slot machine that magically paid out huge prizes.
If you use your brain to know what your favorite lucky slot machines are, you can organize your games around those machines that give you the luckiest results. Sometimes these are high RTP slot machines designed to hold less money than other games. Other times, people just have a touch or feel for a particular slot.
Whatever the reason, enjoy Lucky Slots, experience the addictive slot machine game and bring us slot machine fans back to the casino.