Playing Slot Machines
No game in the casino will decimate your bankroll as quickly as a slot machine. They seem so innocuous, and everyone plays them, and in some cases, you can even play for pennies. But penny slot machines always cost more than a penny per spin. And that air of being innocuous is just an illusion. The reason playing slot machines is a mistake is because of the amount of money you will lose playing, especially when compared with other games that are as much fun or more fun. Part of the reason slot machines are so profitable for the casino is the rate at which you are able to play. In a game of blackjack, you might get 200 hands per hour in – if you are the only player at the table and trying to play fast. On a slot machine, you will probably average 600 bets per hour – 900 if you are really fast.
That’s 1 of 3 factors that determine how much money you are mathematically expected to lose per hour – the number of bets you are making per hour. The other 2 factors are your average bet size and the house edge. In blackjack, if you play with perfect basic strategy, the house edge might be as low as 0.5%, but let’s say that it’s an average game with less than ideal rules, and you are only at 1%. On a pretty good slot machine in Vegas, the house edge might be as low as 8%. Now you multiply the average bet by those 2 factors. Let’s say you are playing blackjack for $5 per hand – you are a low roller. That means your predicted hourly loss at the blackjack tables is 200 X $5 X 8%, or $10/hour. On the other hand, you are playing a slot machine where your minimum bet is 75 cents per spin. Your predicted hourly loss on that slot machine is 600 X $0.75 X 8%, or $36/hour.
And keep in mind, you are betting 80% less per bet on the slot machines than you are on the blackjack table. Even roulette offers you a lower hourly cost, and the house edge for roulette is 5.26%. 45 spins per hour X $5 per spin X 5.26% = $11.84 per hour in predicted losses. If you just love sitting in front of a betting machine, try video poker instead. The house edge on many video poker games is lower than 5%. If you learn how to recognize the right pay tables and learn how to play with close to optimal strategy, you can get that number to less than 1%.