Slot machines are far and away the big money makers in casinos. All the lights and sounds and massive prizes they offer, it’s no wonder so many people love to post up at a slot machine, grab a few drinks, and settle in for a night fighting the one-armed bandit.
They call slot machines one-armed bandits for a reason—they steal your money.
You’ll find that there’s a reason all the pro gamblers out there avoid slot machines like the plague and spend all their time playing table games, especially cards.
Here’s why you should avoid them too.
1- Slot Machines Have Terrible Odds
Slot machines have some of the worst odds in a casino, and honestly, they’re only ever beaten out in that department by Keno (a game you should never, ever play unless you like pitching your money down a hole).
Well, I suppose the lottery has even worse odds, but slot machines rank up there pretty high.
I’ll make a quick distinction here—when we’re talking about slot machines, we’re not talking about video poker. When played with the right strategy, some video poker games can actually have a negative house edge.
We’re talking about the machines with all the lights and colors and videos of sharks and palm trees and all kinds of other nonsense designed to rope you in and get you to spend money that you’ll quickly lose.
Casino owners love to fill casinos with as many machines as possible because they tend to have a high house edge, but you’ll still see them advertised as having high payout rates. This might actually be true (which is to say, the house edge might actually below), but you have to take into account how these machines actually work.
First of all, unlike many table games, slot machines can have absurdly high payouts. In order to balance out those high payouts, there have to be a lot of people who lose over time, and there also have to be a lot of small wins.
You’ll see the exceedingly rare cases where someone walks into a casino, drops a few bucks into a slot machine, and hits it big. In most cases, those people you see featured on the walls who won anything less than a hundred grand probably paid more into those machines over time than they won. And honestly, there are probably some people who spend so much money on slot machines so often that the hundred grand they win doesn’t balance what they’ve spent over the years.
If you want to win it big in a casino, slot machines are your worst bet. You basically have to hope you happen to be the person who gets one of the big payouts that the next thousand players have to make up for.
Card games are far different for several reasons, but let’s talk more about the problems with slot machines.
2- Slot Machines Will Take Your Money Fast
Most casinos are happy when they have games that move fast for the simple reason that the more games played in an hour, the more money they make per hour.
Obviously, this is due to the house edge. The problem with slot machines is that generally speaking, you can play them far more quickly than a number of table games.
The Reason for This Is Pretty Simple:
At table games, there’s usually a lot of people playing, which means it takes time for all the bets to be made and all the winnings to be distributed.
When you have people have been drinking, who are engaged in conversation, who are on their phone or otherwise not paying attention, then the game goes slower. You just don’t have the same situation happening with slot machines. Slot machines allow you to sit and play as fast or as slow as you want.
Now, sure, you might be one of those people who takes it easy and goes slow, but if you’ve had a few drinks, that might not be the case at all. You might start going faster than you intended when you started playing.
The slot machine doesn’t have to wait for anything but you. There aren’t other players to worry about. There aren’t winnings to distribute. You either win fast, or you lose fast and have to play again. Basically, you can feed money into these things until you run out, which is what you’ll see happening all over the place in many casinos if you pay attention.
Thank being said, many card games are just better to play overall. Here’s why.
Some card games require a great deal of skill, like poker, where odds don’t have near the effect on the game that skill does.
There are other games, like baccarat, where one of the bets (tie) gives the house a considerable edge. You’ll find other table games, like roulette or craps, that can have some great bets and some terrible bets, each of which individually provides the house with a different edge.
Slot machines don’t do any of this. The only real “strategy” that you might employ on a slot machine is that you always bet as much as you can. That’s about it. There’s no skill involved here at all. The removal of skill from gambling is what makes slot machines so profitable when you think about it. On top of the fact that they move fast, there’s just no way you can game them.
You’re not going to figure out the winning combination. There’s no such thing as a hot machine or going on a cold streak. There’s no such thing as a machine that’s due to payout. There’s just a random number generator and all the money you dump into the thing.
Card games very much rely on skill, but they also rely on knowledge. Baccarat is always a good example. All you have to understand is that you should never bet on a tie. That’s it.
Generally speaking, most people with any knowledge of baccarat will recommend that you always bet on the banker, but when all is said and done, the odds are just about 50/50. You can’t get much better than that in the casino without employing serious strategy on the right games.
4- Card Games Can Actually Make Money If You Know What You’re Doing
Many card games depend on you having a strategy, both a betting strategy and a strategy for the game itself, but with these elements in place, you can make some good money.
When playing blackjack, you might employ the Martingale betting system while counting cards and using a betting table to decide how you’ll bet with each hand. When played with a strategy in place, many pro blackjack players can make money over time. The same can be said for poker players, just for different reasons.
A poker player is only playing against the other players instead of the house. The house just takes a cut of each game, but if you’re good enough at reading your opponents, understanding the power of your hand, and making the right plays, you can make plenty of money playing poker.
You can make some real money with video poker. Similar to blackjack, you basically have to memorize all the different possible hands and memorize how you’re supposed to play each one. Then you have to find the right video poker machine because not all of them are going to have a negative house edge no matter what you do, but even still, this is far superior to many slot machines.
As mentioned above, even baccarat has pretty darn good odds compared to slot machines. Like I said before, slot machines are the big moneymakers. They’re the reason most casinos stay afloat.
So you should stay away from them and stick to card games.
There are tons of reasons to play card games and tons more to avoid slot machines. They’re just not ever going to be worth your while if your goal is to walk out of the casino with more money than you walked in with.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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