# Virtual Slot Machine Teaches the Logic of Loss

This interactive by Las Vegas Sun describes how in the long run, you’re going to lose every single penny when you throw your hard-earned money into a slot machine. In the short-term though, it is possible to win. It’s all probability. It’s also why statisticians don’t gamble. Nobody plays a game that he’s practically guaranteed to lose, unless you’re a masochist – or you’re Al Pacino in that one horrible sports gambling movie with Matthew McConaughey.

One clarification on the snippet about payout percentage.

This is the ratio of money a player will get back to the amount of money he bets, which is programmed into the slot machine. If a machine has payout percentage of 90 percent, that means 90 percent of the money someone bets should statistically be won back. It means a player is not likely to lose 10 percent of the amount initially put into the machine, but rather 10 percent, on average, over time.

The wording is kind of confusing. To be more clear – over time, on average, you’d lose 10% of the money you put in per bet. This is an important note, because it’s how casinos make money. For example, when you play Blackjack perfectly (sans card-counting), you’ll lose on average 2% (or something like that) per hand, so play long enough, and you’re going to lose all your money.

Imagine you have two buckets. One is filled with water. The other is empty. Transfer the water back and forth between the two buckets. Some of the water drips out during some of the transfers. Eventually, all the water is on the ground.

Ah yes, intro probability is fun. Play the virtual slot machine and do some learning for yourself.

[Thanks, Tyson]

• … and i BET that this kind of websites even bring them new customers! lol :)

• Garick

This is not entirely true, when the subject veers into potential games of skill like Blackjack. The house can limit winnings of
skillful players, but fundamentally doing so too much may actually have downsides and cost them more money overall. Since most people can’t count well there is going to be a downside in other players observing the house compensating for a big winner.

A smart player can bet minimally when the statistics are what would normally be expected but when a deck’s statistics become more favorable for certain bets, they can bet more and average over 100% because of the variable sized bets and the fact the house’s edge assumes the deck has a ordinary distribution of cards or that the player would not be counting well enough to derive advantage from the small occasional drift.

Likewise people have analyzed many lottos as decent investments given: long timeframes, large amounts of money, and assuming the rules (or rules other payers used) would not be change if a person actually tried to take advantage of people’s lack of ability to choose good random numbers leading to numbers that would have much lower odds of sharing a win.
In reality, I think a this would not happen. A person with a sound strategy to make money on a lotto would be noticed, and the rules would be changed to limit ticket buying or something similar to defeat such players before they embarrassed the government.

• Garick

Hrm, wondering the the spim filters ate my post about gambling, as it is a frequent topic for spim….

:)

• no, just briefly held for moderation :) thanks, garick

• Alana

Funny, when I played slots in vegas (once), I lost, lost, lost. When I played this one, I won, won, won. So I guess it’s virtual slots for me :-).