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How to Beat Slot Machines: Beat a Slot Machine

June 6, 2016

How to Beat Slot Machines

Develop a strategy for your gaming endeavours.Whether you are playing video slot machines or their online counterparts, the same burning question applies: how to beat slot machines? Don’t let anyone fool you, it is possible to beat a slot machine. But how to beat a slot machine? That’s tricky, but this article will help you figure out how to beat slot machines.

Although slot machines have been hacked by intelligent scam artists over the years, they’re essentially a game of chance; therefore, beating them in a legal sense isn’t technically possible.

Ultimately, you can’t ‘beat’ modern games that are designed to deliver consistent revenue for their owners.

However, many believe that there are strategies that can be put in place when it comes to playing the slots. There are many books on how to beat slot machines that highlight tricks on beating a slot machine. These books with tricks and strategies on how to beat slot machines can’t guarantee you will win big each and every time you play – however they can work to mitigate risk and therefore improve your chances of enjoying a positive gaming experience.

This article takes a look at the brief history of slot machine cheats, before exploring some of the strategies people enact when playing modern slot machines so that you can know how to beat slot machines.

Who were the real one armed bandits?

Is it possible to actually beat slot machines?Before video slot machines took over gambling establishments around the world, mechanical slot machines were commonplace in many casinos. Mechanical slots – often referred to as ‘one armed bandits’ due to their reputation for taking the player’s money – were operated via a lever. The player pulled the lever, which in turn would spin the internal drums and the cards they held. Once the drums stopped spinning, certain cards would be visible – it was these cards that determined whether the player won or lost.

Traditional slot machines gave players a great chance of winning because they could only produce a limited number of combinations (e.g. they could physically only hold a limited number of cards) and couldn’t be programmed like modern day computerised slot machines.

However, mechanical slot machines were also easier to cheat – so who were the real one armed bandits?

Cheating mechanical slot machines and how to beat slot machines

In days gone by, gamblers came up with a wide range of tactics for cheating mechanical slot machines. From using fake coins and reusing coins by attaching a string to them, through to hacking the machine’s purse and stealing all the cash, there were many illegal methods players used in order to walk as winners.

Tommy Carmichael

Old style mechanical slots often fell victim to cheats.The infamous Tommy Carmichael was essentially a career slot cheat. He was convicted twice in Nevada and once in New Jersey for his crimes, and in 2000 he was federally convicted as one of the main members of a nationwide cheating operation.

So what did he actually do to beat slot machines? Well, Carmichael developed new cheating techniques and tools designed to bypass slot machine security technology. His first major invention was the Monkey Paw, a taut string attached to a bent metal rod. This rod was jammed into the machine via the air vent and was used to fish around for the switch that released the coin hopper. Once the switch was activated, money was released!

The Monkey Paw became obsolete as machines evolved, and thus Carmichael created the Light Wand. This contraption took advantage of the fact that new machines used optical sensors to detect the number of coins dispensed. By blinding the optical sensor, the Light Wand made it impossible for the machine to know how much money it was releasing. Therefore, a player equipped with a Light Wand only had to play until a small jackpot was hit; it was then a matter of inserting the wand and turning a small payout into a mountain of money.

How to beat video slot machines and online slots

Video slot machines and online slot games are essentially computer programs. Video slots are still physical machines that accept coins; however the reels are computer-generated rather than mechanical. Online slots – as the name suggests – have no physical presence and solely exist as a software program that can be accessed via the internet.

While it’s technically possible to hack a computer program, modern day video slots and online slots are rigorously tested and designed to withstand hackers. Video slot games are now equipped with advance security mechanisms that detect any coins used whilst also ensuring the purse is locked away in a miniature equivalent of Fort Knox.

If you plan to try and cheat these games using your programming and computer hacking skills, you might want to think again!

Famous video slots cheats to beat slot machines

While modern day games are virtually impossible to cheat, video slots did fall victim to scammers in days gone by.

Ronald Dale Harris, a software engineer for the Nevada Gaming Commission, created an in-built glitch in a number of game programs that made it possible to hack the machine in question. He designed games so that if someone inserted a very specific combination of coins, the machine automatically paid out – you can only imagine how he and his accomplices were able to benefit from this glitch!

Another incredibly smart individual, Dennis Nikrasch created computer chips that made it possible to hack video slot machines and get them to pay out the jackpot on demand. Obtaining keys on the black market, he was able to enter a venue and place his computer chip into machines in under three minutes; an accomplice would then swoop in and collect the jackpot.

Like Carmichael, both Harris and Nikrasch were eventually caught; there’s only so long one can get away with cheating the system. But still, if you wish to know how to beat slot machines, please continue to read this article on how to beat a slot machine.

Understanding payout rates

Since hacking slot games is virtually impossible these days (not to mention highly illegal), it’s best to enact a range of other strategies if you are looking for ways to ‘beat’ them. Before delving into a range of popular strategies, it’s important to first understand exactly how these machines work.

Slot machines are set to pay out at a certain rate. For example, most machines have a payout rate of between 80% and 98%. This means that long term, a machine with a 98% payout rate pays back 98 cents for every dollar inserted. In other words, the gaming establishment gets to keep 2 cents per dollar spent by players.

Many players falsely believe that this means they can only lose a maximum of 2 cents per dollar spent. It doesn’t work like this; payout rates are calculated over a longer period time. Therefore, it’s possible for a player to spend $20 on a machine and either lose it all or hit the jackpot. The casino is interested in the long term payout rate of the machine, which may only even out after thousands (or even millions) of spins.

If the game doesn’t advertise its payout rate, how do you find out what it is?

You need to know details to understand how to beat slot machines. It is possible to calculate the payout rate of a slot machine, providing it has a completely random number generator (RNG). To work this out, you need to know the occurrence of all symbols on the wheel and the pay table.

To explain this via an example, imagine there is a slot machine with 3 reels and only 2 symbols (obviously real machines have far more symbols than this). One symbol is “⊗” and the other symbol is “⊚”. The number of symbols on each reel is 3; 2x ⊗ and 1x ⊚.

The payout table explains that there are two winning combinations: a suite of 3 ⊚ and a suite of 3 ⊗. On a $1 bet, 3x ⊗ wins $1 and 3x ⊚ wins $15.

The first thing we need to do is work out the probability of each of these winning combinations:

For 3x⊗ the probability is 2/3 x 2/3 x 2/3 = 0.3 (the probability to get ⊗ on 1 reel is 2 out of 3 times, hence why it’s 2/3).
For 3x⊚ the probability is 1/3 x 1/3 x 1/3 = 0.037 (the probability of getting ⊚ on 1 reel is 1 out of 3 times, hence why it’s 1/3).

You multiply the probability 3 times because that’s how many times the symbol needs to show itself (i.e. because it’s a 3 reel slot machine).

Now we can calculate the payout of each combination:

For 3x⊗ the payout is $1 x 0.3 = $0.30
For 3x⊚ the payout is $15 x 0.037 = $0.56

It’s then a matter of adding together the payouts of each combination together to get the total payout:

$0.30 + $0.56 = $0.86

This payout is calculated for $1, so therefore the payout for this nomination is $0.86 (each time you bet $1, on average you win back $0.86) or in other words the payout for $1 denomination is 86%. These calculations do not take into account bonus rounds.

As you can see, it is possible to calculate the payout rate of a slot machine. This doesn’t necessarily make it easier to win – but it means you can choose the machines that offer high payout rates and avoid those that are more likely to rip you off!

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Slot machine strategies: how to beat slot machines

Always work out what the machine’s payout rate is.Let us be clear here: it is impossible to consistently win while playing modern day slot machines. Gambling establishments have measures in place to ensure that overall, the slot machines deliver a return – therefore it’s simply not possible for players to beat the house long term. Remember, slot machines are a game of chance (although one that is skewed in favour of the casino).

However, there are some strategies that can help to maximise the chance of you winning some cash while playing. You need to know how to beat slot machines to win big.

Choose machines with a high payout rate

Most machines don’t readily advertise their payout rate – however some do! These machines advertise their payout rate because it’s high and therefore a sale point. In most cases where the payout rate is advertised, it’ll be 98% or more. This is a much better rate than many machines out there and it ultimately increases your chance of winning at least some money back. If the machine doesn’t advertise its payout rate, it’s possible to try and calculate it yourself – as mentioned in detail above.

It’s important to note that machines with a higher payout rate are often higher denomination machines. This means that although the payout rate is higher long term, there is still the potential that you could lose larger sums of money.

However, sometimes you’re better off with low denomination machines…

Ultimately, it depends how much you are willing to bet and how much you can afford to lose.

If your budget is low, then you are better off playing the lowest denomination machines. Why? Because at the end of the day, you will lose less money by taking this approach – even though lower denomination machines generally have worse odds (lower payout rates).

For example, while a 90% payout 5 cent machine loses $18 an hour on average, a 98% payout $1 machine loses approximately $30 per hour. Although the lower denomination machine has a much lower payout rate (and therefore a reduced chance of winning a substantial amount of money), you still won’t lose as much money playing these machines per hour in comparison to higher denomination machines.

Set a loss limit

For those who like to play the slots, there is one important strategy that should always be used.

Place a limit on the amount you are willing to lose.

Sure, this isn’t necessarily a strategy to help you beat the slots – but it will help to ensure the slots don’t beat you. Before you walk into the casino or log on to an online gaming site, decide how much you are willing to (and can afford to) lose.

Once you’ve set this limit for the day, stick to it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your next big win is only a spin away; it could be, but it’s important to exercise restraint and stick to your limit!

Set a time limit

It is easy to lose track of time when playing slot machines; therefore it’s important to set a time limit each time you play. Before you learn how to beat slot machines, you need to understand the rules.

Generally sessions should be limited to a maximum of two hours. It has been found that after this period of time your mind and body become fatigued. This leads to rash decisions – and rash decisions are never a good idea when playing slot machines.

After two hours of playing, make sure you spend at least half an hour outside away from the gaming floor (or your computer screen if you are playing online) to refresh your mind and re-evaluate your plans. Casinos deliberately create an environment that is difficult to leave, so make sure you get up and walk away every two hours or as soon as you begin to feel frustrated.

Remember, a refreshed mind makes far better decisions!

Choose smaller jackpots

Always set a time limit when playing slots.It is tempting to choose machines displaying a higher jackpot – after all, everyone wants the chance to win big!

However, the truth is that smaller jackpots are generally accompanied by a higher chance of winning. Although you can’t win as much, there is a better chance that you will walk away a winner.

Choose Class III machines

Are you playing slot machines in the United States of America? Well then you need to know how to beat slot machines.

When it comes to slots machines in the US, there are two different types that you need to know in order to understand how to beat slot machines. These are: Class II and Class III. It can be hard to differentiate between these two machines just by looking at them – in fact it’s possible you’ve played both types of machines before without even knowing.

Class III machines are known as ‘Vegas style’ slots and are generally found in large, regulated gambling establishments. These machines work via a random number generator (RNG). An RNG program ensures that the results are as close to random as humanly possible. In other words, you have exactly the same chance of hitting the jackpot on one spin as you do on the next; there is no such thing as a machine that is ‘due to win’.

Class II machines are different. Referred to as virtual lottery terminals (VLTs), Class II machines are generally found on Indian gaming reserves and ‘Racinos’ (casinos with a live horse racing track attached). Class II machines are pre-programmed and are therefore designed to pay out at certain times.

Class II machines work like a game of bingo or a scratch card; players are pitted against each other and play for a common prize. In other words, there are a pre-programmed number of wins and losses to be had per ‘set’. It is these types of machines that generate many of the myths that circulate regarding ‘beating’ slot machines.

If you enjoy playing slot machines, it’s best to stick to Class III machines (i.e. those that work via a RNG) wherever possible.

Choose machines with special offers

Whether you are playing online or in a gaming establishment, look for machines that offer better deals such as free spins and bonuses.

Online casinos generally offer better deals in this sense, for example many of them offer 100% match bonuses on your first deposit. This means that you are essentially given free money to play with.

Seek out the best deals and your money will go further, it’s as simple as that!

Cash out when you win

You can’t predict when slot machines will pay out – however you can gain some control by cashing out when they do.

Many gamblers make the mistake of frittering away their jackpot winnings. Remember the loss limit you set earlier? Well, this doesn’t get to increase when you hit a jackpot. If at any time during your session you double your account balance, then it’s time to cash out and walk away – even if your two hours isn’t up.

Put your winnings aside and return to the gaming room or website later to play another session. Of course, your new session needs to have a time and loss limit as specified earlier. By creating a ‘win pile’ that isn’t ‘reinvested’ back into the slot machine, you will at least have some money left at the end of the day.

Whether you manage to score an overall profit or loss, having some money left is better than nothing. It’s important to know how to beat slot machines, but it is more important to know when to stop playing slots.


Develop a strategy for your gaming endeavours.Although there will always be people that try, modern technology has made it virtually impossible to hack or cheat video slot machines and online slots. The truth is that if you know how to beat slot machines, you can beat hem.

The legal implications simply aren’t worth it! Historically, slot machine scammers have been caught and prosecuted – which isn’t exactly the outcome gamers are looking for!

If you want to ‘beat the slots’, the best course of action is to implement a sensible gaming strategy. While it’s impossible to consistently win against the house, it is possible to lessen your chance of sustaining serious losses – and instead potentially even come home with a win from time to time!

It’s important to remember that slot machines, like any form of gambling, can be addictive for some. According to the Australian Government, Australians are some of the biggest slot machine players in the world; in fact, they spend nearly $12 billion per year on the pokies (slot machines). That’s a lot of money in anyone’s books! We are sure this article helped you know how to beat slot machines. In addition to this, you also need to be aware of gambling laws in Australia for your own safety.

The slots can be great fun; if you like to play regularly, always have a strategy in place and remember to gamble responsibly. Knowing how to beat slot machines will allow you to win even more.

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