Have you got a lucky pair of pants? Do you always stay inside on Friday 13th? Do you step to one side to avoid walking under ladders?
I’m not simply being nosy, I’m just listing a few of the common superstitions, some more extreme than others, than many people fall prey to. The point is that the same kind of thought processes can play a part in almost any form of gambling. Take flipping a coin for example; if I flip a coin and it lands on heads ten times in a row, and then I ask you to bet on how the next flip would end, what would you say? Would you say that it’s bound to be tails because it’s been heads so many times already? Or would you say it’s heads again because this coin seems to ‘prefer’ heads? Or, would you fall back on what you know about probability theory and state that, since every flip is an independent event, the chances of it landing on heads or tails are exactly fifty-fifty every single time?
The point is that we all know, on an intellectual level, that the last option is the only sensible one, but that doesn’t make it easy to stop ourselves falling for the other two. The same thought processes explain some of the most common myths surrounding online slots. In simple terms, we don’t really want to think it’s all just down to luck, preferring to imagine that there has to be some kind of a system for winning at online slots. Either that, or we’re losing because of the time of day we play, or because of the type of bet we place, or because the online casinos themselves are cheating us. The truth of the matter is that many of the things that people tell you about online slots are simply misconceptions, often based on a lack of understanding of the technology powering the slots and the regulations which the online casinos have to abide by. These are just a few of the most common myths:
The slots are ‘fixed’
Many people become convinced that the online casino must in some way have fixed the slots so that they don’t pay out. The truth of course is that the house – the online casino – will always have the edge, and the successful gamblers are those who know that winning is relatively rare. An online casino doesn’t have to fix the way machines pay out in order to make very good profits, and the licencing rules put in place by an organisation like the UK Gambling Commission mean that there is plenty of independent third party testing to ensure that this remains the case. The truth of the matter is that the average return to player (RTP) rate of online slots is higher than the land-based equivalent.
You can hack into an online casino and cheat the slots
Ever since the earliest slot machines came onto the scene, myths have abounded that you could cheat the game using a magnet, or weights, or a special fake coin. As online slots became more sophisticated the idea of cheating shifted to encompass somehow short-circuiting the control systems with some devious electronic device, and the modern-day equivalent is the idea of a hacker breaking into the mainframe of an online casino and tampering with the slots. It might make the plot of a Hollywood movie, but the truth of the matter is that the multi-million dollar companies who run online casinos depend upon the very best security systems to protect not only their games but also the data of their many millions of players. Anyone who spends time trying to get past systems of this calibre of online security is banging their head against a virtual brick wall.
A slot that hasn’t paid out for a while is due a big pay-out
This myth takes us back to the idea of the coin flipping mentioned earlier, and the fact that each individual flip of a coin is a completely individual event. The same applies every time the reels of an online slot spin. Slots use something called a random number generator (RNG), a piece of software which ensures the random nature of each and every spin of the reels. Vitally, the RNG has no memory, so it doesn’t know if a machine has just paid out, or if it hasn’t paid out for a long time, meaning that the idea of a slot being ‘due’ a pay-out is a myth.
Playing with a no deposit bonus means you’re less likely to win
Most casinos now offer bonuses to try to entice players to choose them over all the others. The most generous of these bonuses don’t even require a deposit, meaning they offer free spins on the slots in question. Some players think that the slots are set up not to pay out to players using these bonus spins but, once again, the RNG means this simply isn’t true. The slot doesn’t know whether you’re playing with real money, free spins or a signing on bonus, it spins in a random manner just the same. The same applies to the idea that autoplay spins are less likely to pay out, another common myth.
The chances of winning at slots depend on the time of the day
The thinking behind this myth is that many more people are playing slots at peak times and this means that each slot becomes a bit less likely to pay out. Each spin of each slot is random, however, and bears no relation to the number of people playing or the amount being wagered. You could be the only person in the world playing a particular slot and the chances of winning would be the same as if a million people were playing it.
Many players swear by beginners’ luck, citing the wonderful wins they enjoyed when they first started playing. The random nature of slots means that you are no more likely to win the first time you play than you are the five hundredth. The idea of beginners luck is a psychological trick based on the fact that we tend to remember some experiences more than others. The times we win on slots are, by definition, the exception, which means we’re more likely to remember them, particularly the first few times.