Introduction to Older Casinos
If you are a slots enthusiast then, whatever your gambling goal is, you want to win at playing slot machines. As I have begun my return to regularly posting blog articles, I thought you’d appreciate knowing how to win at slots in older casinos. I’ve done it.
What do I mean by older casinos? As I’ve briefly mentioned before, there are older-style casinos as well as newer-style casinos. Those casinos built or significantly renovated since 2012 are newer-style casinos. Otherwise, obviously, they are older-style casinos.
What’s different about older-style casinos from those built or significantly renovated after 2012 or so is relatively straightforward. Before 2012, the technology did not fully exist to connect individual slot machines to a central computer located within the casino.
Yes, there were so-called Progressive slot machines, which is a planned topic for an upcoming article. But, casino operating systems weren’t yet set up to be able to manage ALL slot machines within a casino. In 2012, casino operating systems became available that could – but required extensive physical renovations to casino properties in order for it to be installed into the building infrastructure.
Briefly, each slot machine had to be wired to this central computer – which meant lots and lots of cables having to be run under floors, over ceilings, within walls, and more.
But, you don’t have to figure out, for now, if you play slots at an older- or newer-style casino. The “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach I’ll be describing works at both types of casinos.
Later, in many other articles I have planned about how to win at slots in newer-style casinos, you will indeed need to figure out if you’re playing at an older- or newer-style casino. When the time comes, I’ll help you with that.
In this article, I’ll tell you the story of how I figured out how to win at slots in older casinos. As I’ll explain, I originally did this in 2004 while attending graduate school as a poor college student.
To tell this story about “how to win at slots in older casinos”, I’ve divided it up into the following sub-sections:
- Introduction to Older Casinos
- Initial Gambling Rules in 2003
- Six Months Playing a 25-Cent, 3-Credit Slot Machine
- 2004 Internet Advice on Choosing a Winning Slot Machine
- Six Days of Winning Taxable Jackpots on a $1, 5-Credit Slot Machine
- Ten Years of Thoughtful Reflection
- Older-Style Versus Newer-Style Slot Machines
- Rules for Winning on Older-Style Slot Machines
- Summary of Older Casinos
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OInitial Gambling Rules in 2003
After my very first casino gambling experiences starting in 2003, I spent more and more time thinking about them without much progress on learning how to win. But, I wasn’t yet thinking about how to win. Rather, I was mostly thinking about the potential dangers of what I was getting into.
Eventually, I made a decision to keep trying to figure out this whole slots gambling thing. I wasn’t expecting to win any significant amount of money, not ever. Rather, I was hoping not to lose a significant amount of money.
At this time, my primary motivation was wanting to develop better control over my emotions while gambling at a casino. While there, I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t like feeling as though I was being ruled by them, at times almost controlled by my emotions.
If my reaction to these strong emotions was a personal weakness, I knew I wouldn’t just find myself exposing this behavior at a casino. I could potentially be surprised by it at other times, either while simply living my life or when working professionally. I felt, if possible, it needed to be properly addressed.
So, with this reasoning in mind for proceeding with gaining additional slot machine gambling experiences, I took a long look around where I lived for any nearby casinos within driving distance. As it happened, there was a nice casino relatively nearby. In fact, its size and facilities far exceeded what I’d even heard about casinos being like at that point in my life.
The local casino had table games, floors of slot machines, a high limit slot room, and horse racing. And, oh, the splendor of the buffet! To all my senses, it was simply delightful. So, with that limited assessment of a gambling establishment, about every month or more I’d take about $25 from my monthly graduate student stipend to go there and fully expected to gamble it all away on slot machines.
But, would I…?
OSix Months Playing a 25-Cent, 3-Credit Slot Machine
For a few years, this gambling establishment was the only casino I went to. It was the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino outside of Des Moines, Iowa in the small city of Altoona. I started going there in 2004, with my last visit in early 2006 after I’d graduated and moved away to the east coast of the U.S. I admittedly had what I still consider to be a fairly wild and crazy time.
I learned many things about playing slot machines during those visits, both what seemed to work and what seemed not to work. Although, it all started out tamely enough.
As mentioned, every few weeks or so I’d take $25 and play it on slots. After looking around for a while at the various slot machines available, I settled on one machine that I liked. It was a fairly typical $0.25 denomination, 3-credit slot machine.
I liked it for two reasons, specifically because of:
- Payout table was easy to read.
- Reel symbols were relatively simple.
I had no special requirements other than I didn’t want to have to keep figuring out the “pay table” every time I moved to a different slot machine. A pay table, just to be clear, is a description of what symbols or combination of symbols result in a win as well as the cash amount of that win.
For 20 visits over a 6-month period, I sat and played with a bankroll of $25 at this specific quarter-dollar, 3-credit slot machine. If I won any small amount, I’d either take it home to use it as my bankroll on the next visit or put it back in immediately to spend it right then on that machine. For the most part, I found that I was enjoying myself.
However, I happen to be a non-smoker. At the time, this casino was often smoky, especially when a smoker sat next to me and lit up a cigarette or cigar, which bothered my allergies quite a lot. If it became particularly smoky at the casino, I found that after I got home I had to bag my clothes until washday just so that I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with a mild asthma attack.
However, my real dissatisfaction didn’t occur until 6 months had passed, when I won my first “big” jackpot. It wasn’t a taxable jackpot, i.e., $1,200 or more, but it happened to be the maximum jackpot that that slot machine had to offer: $1,000.
By then, my gambling records showed that, altogether over 6 months of effort, I’d spent nearly $500 to win that $1,000 jackpot. Imagine my sitting there and staring at a jackpot for an amount equal to 10% of my annual gross income and, I naively thought, tax-free to boot.
But why the feeling of dissatisfaction? Yes, I’d made back the $500 I’d spent over 6 months. Yes, I also had $500 of profit in my hand. But, I had realized that I had only $500 to show for 6 months of effort. Had I even exceeded minimum wage based on all the hours I’d spend gambling? Not even close.
I appreciated the win and all, I truly did, but I kept thinking that there has to be a better way to win than doing this! My response, my decision, my deliberate approach was, as usual, to do more research! To do more thinking!
With a little more thought, I decided that I should search this relatively new thing in 2004 called the World-Wide-Web, i.e., what we of course now call the internet, for any advice it might be able to share at winning when gambling via slot machines.
O2004 Internet Advice on Choosing a Winning Slot Machine
The gambling just described took place around the time Google was starting to become available as a fairly decent Internet search engine, including to engineering graduate students such as I was at that time. I proceeded to search online using this remarkable new research tool.
What I read online about slot machine gambling seemed fascinating. I don’t remember the specific keywords I used during my internet search, and certainly don’t remember the URL addresses I ended up linking to, but the advice I found went like this:
- To win big, bet big.
- Pick a machine that has multipliers, a second spin, or both.
- Find a machine at or near the end of a row of machines that is near an area where people naturally group together that has both items 1) and 2).
The first suggestion made a certain fine logical sense to me.
The second suggestion was a bit of an eye-opener but certainly seemed like an excellent idea.
The third suggestion struck me as bizarre. Could it be true, that a casino would actively try to engage, to entice, to effectively manipulate its patrons into gambling from within its own property? How completely fascinating!
I resolved to try out the suggestions during my next casino visit. This is when my gambling really started to become an interesting story to the people I was talking to, mostly my engineering professors and the staff I most often worked with at the university. These friends and co-workers were my first audience.
OSix Days of Winning Taxable Jackpots on a $1, 5-Credit Slot Machine
After reading about those suggestions online, and thinking more and more about them, I finally went back to the casino with my recent $500 in prior winnings. I began hunting through all the slot machines looking for high credit, high dollar amount machines.
By the way, at that time I’d never noticed the high limit slot room where I’d years later would spend so much time…and win so many taxable jackpots.
I examined slot machines on the casino floor for good candidates, really more of a tentative slot machine assessment at this point, until I found what appeared to be a nice $1 denomination, 5-credit machine with multipliers included in its reel symbols except that it was located over in a quiet corner.
It was a Five Times Play machine. I liked this machine because it fit at least the first 2 criteria above. Unfortunately, it wasn’t located in a busy area.
I kept up my search, eventually finding the same exact model of slot machine elsewhere in the casino. It was ideally located, assuming the advice I’d gotten from the internet was sound, as the second to last machine in a row near the casino’s main bar region.
At the time, I remember being struck by how odd it was that all three criteria could be met with such relatively little effort. I’m much less surprised these days about having an instinct for pattern recognition.
Unbeknownst to me, a wild and crazy time of my life was about to commence. There I was. It’s 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’m looking at the best candidate I’d yet found based on the suggestions I’d found online for winning at slot machine gambling. I had $500 in my hand. I was ready to go.
All I had to do now was put my money into the slot machine and start hitting the maximum bet button. I found it surprisingly difficult to put that much money into a machine. I was, well, reluctant.
This reluctance, by the way, is what I now consider to be the main reason for my then near-future success when playing slot machines – EVERYBODY that had been playing that specific slot machine had also found themselves reluctant to put a lot of money into that slot machine. They’d probably felt this way for months, if not a few years.
I think most people had been putting $20 in, hit max bet twice, then taken their money with any winnings and left. But, not me, no sir! I pressed on with my plan: I proceeded to put the whole $500 into it and pressed the max bet button until it was gone. Naturally, nothing went according to plan. Again.
See, my bankroll didn’t go away. I found myself winning small nontaxable jackpots, lots of small jackpots each worth less than $1,200. There were so many of these jackpots that I tried for a little while to used my pen to write hash marks on my palm for each $25, $75, $100, $200, $500, $750 and $1,000 hits.
But, I couldn’t keep up with how many of these small jackpots I was winning. I simply ran out of room on my palm to mark down all the hash marks. So, for a while, I just marked down how many $1,000 hits I got. I ran out of space on my palm once I got to around 60 or so. I might have tried harder, but other interesting things were starting to happen: I won my first ever taxable jackpot. It was for $1,250. I was overjoyed!
These days, I know more than a few gamblers who’ve never won a taxable jackpot. They wonder how it feels, and ask what it’s like. I’ve seen the look on their faces when other gamblers describe it. I’ve also happened to be
Yes, it’s a wonderful feeling, but can also be a big mystery as to what happens next. So, there you are, making bet after bet on the slot machine you’re playing when you notice that, this time, the reels have landed on an interesting combination of symbols. They seem familiar somehow. Maybe something I’d seen on the pay table??
Plus, now the machine seems to be locked up and is definitely making lots of additional lights and sounds. Finally, you begin to notice that everyone nearby is looking at you with a strange combination of both delight and envy, maybe saying “Congratulations!” or “Big Money!” What could possibly have just happened?
I can still remember that first time. It was also my first experience with how helpful slot attendants are, which I still appreciate. Nevertheless, it was a completely new experience.
Slot attendants and other casino staff certainly deserve to be praised for how professional, supportive, informative, patient, and generally helpful they are to everyone. But, this is especially true when they’re working with first-time taxable jackpot winners.
At first, I was mystified as to why the machine wouldn’t allow another bet. It had been working just fine a moment before. I’d been winning a lot of small, nontaxable jackpots and, when doing so, always stopped the machine’s roll-up sequence.
Without that roll-up’s sound effects, it took a moment to notice the actual amount of the win. At that time, I was not at all aware of the $1,200 lower limit for taxable jackpots. However, I’d most certainly realized it was the largest jackpot I’d yet gotten.
These days I’m a professional working as an engineer in the aerospace industry, so I’m glad to say that even as a lowly graduate student I had my
If only in my own mind, I’m not sure I’d have ever lived such a mistake down. My records show that this first taxable jackpot of $1,250 occurred at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, 2004. Within an hour, I won another taxable jackpot, this second time for the amazing amount of $3,750.
Let’s think about this timing for a moment. Two jackpots occurring 51 minutes apart. But, not 51 minutes of betting occurring between them. About 15-20 minutes was taken up with the casino servicing that first jackpot.
In actuality, there were only about 30 minutes of betting taking place between those two jackpots. I know now that that’s pretty close together. It wouldn’t be the last time this happened, though. Not at all.
Servicing a taxable jackpot involves more than a few process steps. Even in 2004, for quicker service, slot attendants were equipped with a portable headset for dispatcher communication. They are notified of the taxable jackpot immediately, to hurry over to the waiting patron. The servicing itself is a process with multiple steps, some of which the patron is aware of and others which they are not directly involved with.
Setting aside the questions asked and explanations given during the servicing of my first jackpot, the servicing of a taxable jackpot is relatively straightforward once you’ve been through it a time or two. In 2004 the process steps, some simultaneous, were:
- Jackpot won, the machine locks up, run-up begins, service request automatically sent
- Slot attendant arrives
- Slot attendant requests government-issued I.D. and social security number
- Slot attendant begins filling out paperwork, including codes from the machine
- Attendant explains available tax payment options, requesting patron’s preferences
- Attendant requests a preferred type of payout: either cash, check, or both
- Patron signs paperwork
- Slot attendant unlocks slot machine, allowing play to continue or “cash-out” of remaining funds in the slot machine at the patron’s discretion
- Slot attendant leaves with patron’s I.D. to get payment amount from cashier cage
- Slot attendant returns along with a co-worker to verify payment accuracy
- Patron receives their I.D., the jackpot amount after taxes, and a W-2G tax form
The process for servicing a taxable jackpot has different responsibilities for the three entities involved: the slot machine, the casino staff, and the player.
Despite all the assistance and professional services being provided by the casino staff for these two taxable jackpots, I’d begun to feel slightly emotionally overwhelmed as well as hungry and far too caffeinated to continue in a clear-thinking manner.
Remember, I was also winning quite a few smaller, nontaxable jackpots, most of which was more money than I’d seen at any one time for years as a poor college student.
I went home, ate a late lunch, and tried to get some much-needed sleep. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I really needed to be back at the casino playing that slot machine. Thinking is all well and good, I told myself, but sometimes it’s time for action.
So, there I was at the casino at 10 p.m. that Saturday in April of 2004, betting on the same machine as before. Within a quarter-hour of arriving, I won a taxable jackpot for $1,500. Then, a few minutes before midnight, I won my biggest jackpot yet. This jackpot was an astonishing $6,250. That did it for me. I was done with my first day of winning taxable jackpots, having won 4 of them totaling $12,750.
To put this into perspective, it’s necessary to understand that, as a lowly graduate student at that time living on a university’s engineering research stipend, that last taxable jackpot was half my annual gross salary. In addition, the total for all 4 taxable jackpots actually was my annual gross salary.
So, yes, I collected my winnings at the end of that first day, went home, and stayed there … for a while.
After 4 hours of sleep, I was back at the casino. That Sunday, I stayed from about 6 a.m. until around Noon, winning three more taxable jackpots for a total of $6,500 that day, not including the usual uncounted number of small, nontaxable jackpots.
I also tried playing a few other slot machines, these with $5 denominations instead of the $1 denomination machine I had been playing and winning at, but only lost money with these. That I tried other slot machines is an indication that, despite the distractions of winning on a single slot machine, I was still trying to understand how winning actually worked during slot machine gambling.
That Sunday afternoon and night I remember trying to catch up on my sleep, and how it was so difficult to ignore the ninety-six $100 bills on my nightstand next to my bed in my cheap studio apartment. Just so I wouldn’t have to look, I tried to cover them up with a book, which immediately made me laugh.
It struck me as funny how the book got kind of propped up, almost sliding off that stack of hundred dollar bills, and was not at all helpful in reducing how distracted I’d become with all that cash just sitting there. I’d most certainly never, ever had that much cash. On Monday morning, I made a bank deposit of $9,600 and spent the rest of the day working at the university and avoiding the casino.
The next day, on Tuesday, I withdrew $2,000 from my bank account and returned to the casino after work. From around 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., I won another 4 taxable jackpots, this time totaling $5,000.
I then did something I thought courageous at the time yet also knew to be un-researched and therefore fairly stupid. When I decided to leave, I noticed the high limit slot machine room. I went in. I admit that I briefly thought about what I was about to do. In my mind, I hadn’t even had the $5,000 in my hand for more than a couple of minutes. So what if I lost $3,000 of it? I’d still have the remaining $2,000 that I’d walked into the casino with.
So, after having done no prior research, having made no prior assessment of the high limit slot machines in that high limit room, with barely a careful thought in my head, I put $3,000 into one of the $100 denomination, 1-credit slot machines and hit the maximum bet button until it was all gone. And all gone it truly was.
I lost $3,000 without a single jackpot, taxable or otherwise. Again, my mistake was I hadn’t done a bit of preparation, research, or assessment beforehand. Not. One. Bit. And, with the loss of that much money, almost a third my annual salary at the time, I’d just paid dearly for not doing so.
While the loss of that $3,000 was a painful personal lesson on what happens when not being prepared, I place a high value on the experience. I believe that that loss prevented far greater gambling losses later.
Imagine, if you will, what would have likely happened if I had won. On that machine, the lowest possible jackpot was over the nontaxable limit. If I’d won it, I’d have felt encouraged to continue then and, most likely, later with other winnings.
However, what would likely have happened if I’d won a medium-sized jackpot for that machine, say $100,000? Or, far worse, the quarter-million maximum jackpot? That $3,000 loss taught me in the easiest way to accept that I was truly unprepared to win.
I returned three more times to that casino over the next few days, playing only the $1 denomination, 5-credit Five-Times-Play model slot machine I’d been winning taxable jackpots on.
While I won only one taxable jackpot each on Thursday and Friday, the smaller, nontaxable jackpots were relatively extensive. I made a decent profit on both trips. On Saturday, however, it all came to an abrupt end.
I’d gambled on 5 days over a 7-day period, sometimes visiting the casino twice a day. I’d won 13 taxable jackpots totaling $28,500.
At the time, my best estimate for the number of nontaxable jackpots was about twice that, at $60,000. In hindsight, using what I know now, it was more likely twice that, around $120,000. Not having used a reward’s card during that week, I don’t really know for sure how much it was.
As mentioned, my first slot machine gambling experiences ended abruptly on Saturday. With $500 cash in hand, I returned to the casino that morning. I went to the slot machine I’d been winning at and, as usual, inserted the 5 hundred-dollar bills.
Again, as usual, I then proceeded to make the maximum bets of $5 each. That $500 bankroll was gone in 15 minutes without a taxable jackpot, although I do recall winning a single nontaxable jackpot for $25. To say that I was stunned is an understatement.
Over the next weeks and months of 2004, I would return less and less often each time with less and less cash, and always have the same lackluster result. For some reason I didn’t yet understand, it was over. But, the thinking had only just begun. Over this same time, and the next year and the year after that, I began to develop theories. I began to truly understand what had happened.
OTen Years of Thoughtful Reflection
There’s a bit more to this story about my gambling experiences in 2004, but this is a good point to pause the presentation of this “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach and reflect for a moment.
Why? Because I spent 10 long years reflecting about what I just described having done, and that analysis is useful in gaining a deeper level of understanding of what had been happening than I’d been aware of earlier.
I’ve thought about spending that $3,000 on the $100 denomination, 1-credit high limit slot machine. I’ve gone over it endlessly. I was fine with taking the chance. I was fine with spending that much money, that specific money, given how I’d just won it in 2 minutes flat.
What I wasn’t fine with was not having done research or performing careful thought. Why that machine? Why not spread the money around the other machines in the high limit slot machine room? Heck, what exactly was even in that room? Did I look around? No. I looked at maybe 3 slot machines before picking the one I spent $3,000 on.
I remember there were people there, but not if there was a booth for casino employees or if anyone else was playing another machine. Why am I going on about this? What point am I making? Well, here’s my point: 9 years, 7 months, 10 days, 6 hours, and 6 minutes later I went into another high limit slot room, much better prepared, and proceeded to kick its butt.
Between Saturday and Friday, April 3 thru April 9 in 2004, I went back and forth to the casino as often as I physically could. I won 13 taxable jackpots that week for a total of $28,500. About one-third went to pay taxes, paid immediately by the casino from each hand payout at my request.
Another third was used to continue gambling. The final one-third I kept, spending part of it on an expensive 14-inch flat screen computer monitor and about the same on a rental deposit for a better college apartment.
As an aside, did I mention buying $1,000 worth of lottery tickets at the convenience store across the street from the casino on the way home on one of those days that week? No? Well, nothing too interesting came out of that. I will say it took a while to check all the tickets for winning numbers. However, apparently, collecting $100 on a lottery ticket is not at all common.
Again, when I went back to the casino on Saturday, April 10, 2004, to play the usual slot machine with a $500 bankroll, the entire bankroll was gone in a few minutes. Over the next few days, I put in less and less money into that slot machine, always with the same result.
After 6 days of playing at all different times of the day for most days of that week, it had suddenly gone from paying out huge amounts of low, non-taxable and taxable jackpots to not paying out more than a few dollars, if that. It didn’t take much thought to realize that its odds of winning had been significantly lowered.
At some point between when I left on Friday night and came back in on Saturday, casino staff had physically opened up the machine and proceeded to manually lower its payout odds. During my week of gambling, I hadn’t even
If I had known, I would have made an effort to gamble while I could still win, especially on those two days when I didn’t gamble at all. I had no idea such a physical change could and would eventually happen but, then, I was ignorant about a lot of things regarding slot machine gambling. How could I not be, with so little preparation?
Over the last 10 years or so I’ve put together a few key takeaways of that whole early experience at gambling, but back then I had only a few ideas on how to proceed. The first idea is hugely important, so important that you probably already know it.
I didn’t, not until my tax preparer explained it, but back then I didn’t really know much of anything about gambling. What is this hugely beneficial idea? Simply this: KEEP GAMBLING RECORDS. I plan to go into detail on this topic in a later article, Keeping Gambling Records for Tax Preparation and More.
My other idea after how the slot machine stopped paying out was to think about why it had been paying out in the first place. My best guess was and is that that slot machine simply hadn’t been used much recently.
Who in their right mind would bet $5 for each push of a button, and keep doing it for anything like $500? Especially in a relatively low-income state in the Midwest, was my thought. I should wait before trying again, I thought. I should wait, say, a year before trying again.
And, so, that is what I did. In February of 2005, I twice spent $500 in that machine. The first time, I won a $1,250 jackpot just before spending the remainder of that bankroll. The second time, I spent the whole $500 without winning a single taxable jackpot.
Another year later, having recently entered the
The second $2,000 bankroll was spent at Mohegan Sun, a casino located near to where I had moved to southern New England. The specific slot machine I spent the $2,000 bankroll on was the same model as I’d won on previously, and the only one of its kind that I could find within the casino. I lost the whole bankroll within a few minutes.
I set aside slot machine gambling after that. It would be years before I’d return to it. My professional career had started to require significant attention to go well, living expenses in southern New England were significantly higher than I’d expected, and student loans were coming due. So ended my early gambling experience.
Looking back across those years, using a perspective gained from my most recent gambling experiences, I have noticed some oddities in that 2004 experience which stems from not using the casino’s available rewards card. The consequences of this were that I was never visited by a host nor was I ever comp’d for anything at all. Nothing.
If you do or ever plan to gamble, including if planning to use the “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach, I highly encourage joining that casino’s rewards program. All other considerations aside, and I’ve discussed them in a prior post, the benefits of players clubs definitely add to the overall gambling experience.
OOlder-Style Versus Newer-Style Slot Machines
The story about my first gambling experiences from more than a decade ago can be examined closely in a way helpful to beginners on how to best approach slots gambling. That experience was entirely centered on the older-style slot machines, a technological type of slot machine I’ve recently observed to still be prevalent in many older casinos.
What I mean by older-style slot machines is that all slot machines I’ve worked with give the appearance of being separated into two different mechanical-electrical systems. Both kinds accept a patron’s card, but the older-style machines have LED readouts that display simple red or yellow messages such as a scrolling “WELCOME JON!” These LED displays are much smaller but similar to signs still seen outside of a bank displaying the current temperature and date.
This type of LED message display for the players club card clearly indicates an older-style slot machine. These types of slot machines can be found at older casinos, but never at relatively new casinos.
From my slot machine gambling experience of 10+ years ago, these types of slot machines had constant odds of winning roughly the same number and size of taxable jackpots day and night for every day of the week, continuing until a casino slot technician physically opened up the machine and manually changed the odds of winning and relative sizes of jackpots.
A slot machine can still be of the older-style variety even if it has been updated to display for the players club information. Older-style and new-style slot machines have the primary difference of being controlled by a central computer system. In one limiting case, slots with a
In the other limiting case, slots with multi-color touch screen displays similar to a smart device display are controlled by a central computer system.
Those slots with displays which are less high tech than smart devices, but higher tech than LED displays, can be difficult to determine whether or not they are older-style or newer-style slot machines. However, for what it is worth, I’ve yet to confirm any non-touch screen player card display slot machine to be controlled by a central computer.
In my experience, new-style machines can be found any new casino that has opened since early 2013. Their high-resolution, small, color touchscreen displays allow for checking players club balances, ordering beverages, and collecting any eligible free slot play.
ORules for Winning on Older-Style Slot Machines
Types of older-style slot machines to avoid include any progressive slot machine unless they are being specifically targeted. Later, I’ll write an article describing strategies for approaching progressive slots in a winning manner for those with an aptitude, specific interest, or otherwise want to play them.
Types to consider approaching include slots with multiplies like the Five Times Play machine from the story. Again, remember these basic assessment rules for older-style slot machines:
- To win big, you need to bet big;
- Pick a machine that has multipliers, or a second spin, or both; and
- Find a machine at or near the end of a row of machines that is near an area where people naturally group together that has both items above.
A relatively large bankroll will likely be needed to get started, under the assumption that there may be more than one candidate slot machine that needs the acceptance criteria for a winning older-style slot machine.
A hundred or so dollars would be more than enough if a winning slot machine is discovered, because immediate small jackpots will maintain that level of bankroll, will continuously cycle a small bankroll, long enough for a taxable jackpot to eventually be won.
However, if the wrong candidate slot machine is chosen, a bankroll of a hundred or so dollars can be significantly reduced or completely lost in a short amount of time.
This “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach is a financial investment with an inherent risk. Two or three bankrolls each of a hundred or so dollars may very well be needed to find which candidate slot machine, if any, is currently set up to win.
Also, be aware that this is a relatively commonly known technique from a decade past. Again, it’s likely to already be know. So, the slot machine that has been set up to win by the casino may have already been approached by a savvy player who has already reaped their financial reward.
After some time, the casino likely noticed and, if so, put a stop to it by simply changing the odds of winning for that machine. If more than one slot machine meets the above criteria to make it a candidate winner, be aware that the casino may very well switch between them as time passes.
It would be best to assume that you’ve correctly identified candidate slot machines using the above criteria. However, it is also best to assume that others have previously tried and succeeded in winning at those slot machines using the same method. The question becomes, how long has it been?
Whether it’s of the older-style or newer-style variety, a casino has promotional funds available to encourage gambling in many ways. Setting up certain kinds of slot machine near common areas where winning can be seen by many patrons at once, who then go off to gamble themselves at other slot machines, is simply a less advertised promotional event. And, because promotional funds are on a limited budget, these candidate slot machines are not always going to be set up to win.
There are two possibilities with these candidate slot machines when considering the “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach: They may or may not be currently set up to win. If not set to win, which should be obvious after less than 20 bets, a player wishing to use this strategy needs to recognize that is simply the situation at that time.
To implement the strategy, simply come back at a much later time, i.e., months later. Further, consider when is the best time of the year to try this strategy.
What time of the year might a casino be using their promotional funds to encourage gambling? A clue can be found from my own “how to win at slots in older casinos” experience from a decade or so ago, which occurred during the first week of April.
Less than coincidently, this is precisely when slot gambling is at its peak each year. Winter is over, spring has arrived, and parents wanting to go on family vacations are still waiting for children to get out of school. This is when people most want to gamble, and when casino operators prepare for them to do so.
The second possibility is if a candidate slot machine is indeed deliberately set up to win by the casino as described. You’ve successfully found a winning slot machine. What then? Are you ready for what comes next, to optimize performance and maximize profits? In other words, what is the plan?
When I won 13 taxable jackpots over 6 days using this strategy more than a decade ago, my performance was not optimal nor did I maximize profits. Why? Put simply, I was not prepared to win. I played that winning older-style slot machine for only a few hours at a time. I even skipped, i.e., didn’t gamble at all, on two of the 6 days it was set up to win.
To truly optimize performance and maximize profits when using this strategy, at least one trusted partner is necessary. The basic plan should be to never stop playing that winning slot machine. The casino will be open 24 hours a day, for 7 days a week.
Optimal play with the “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach is to keep playing without stopping for anything, except momentarily, due to paperwork for taxable jackpot hand payouts. As mentioned, a trusted partner or two is essential to accomplish such a plan.
Further, it will become important, if possible, to not allow the slot machine to be serviced during this time. This is a relatively important aspect of how to win at slots in older casinos. I’d suggest limiting one’s own personal use of the cash-in and voucher in/out features of the slot machine.
Doing so will less likely require the slot machine to be serviced due to filling the cash bin with money, filling the voucher bin with paper, and using all of the voucher paper for printing will drive the need for the slot machine to be serviced.
If played continuously, eventually this winning older-style slot machine will be due to have its odds of winning changed by the casino based on their schedule. Because it is of the older-style variety, it must be done manually by a slot technician who physically opens the slot machine to adjusts its settings.
Either this slot technician will wait for whomever is playing the slot machine to quit and thereby leave the machine idle, or they will politely interrupt the player to make the manual adjustments.
If the technician (or casino) decides to wait, then by all means keep playing that winning slot machine. If they insist on interrupting to make the settings change, the player can make a decision to protest or concede to their request depending on circumstances. After all, working a 12-hour shifts a day for up to a week will be both mentally and physically grueling.
By the time the slot technician shows up to physically change the odds, the player may need to stop or may otherwise not be able to continue much longer in any case. If the technician successfully makes the change, at least the player has learned two items of importance:
- They have maximized the amount of winning playing time at that slot machine; and
- It is now time to perform a cost efficiency re-assessment of the slot machine.
For using this “how to win at slots in older casinos” technique at newer-style casinos, where slot machine odds are adjusted through the use of a central computer, you can avoid allowing such a change to take play by simply not removing your players card for more than about 15 minutes.
According to my current understanding of these modern casino operating systems, the odds of winning for slot machines cannot be adjusted if it is in use by a player. Apparently, the slot machine needs to be idle, without a players card in it, for at least 15 minutes before its odds can be updated.
Summary of Older Casinos
There are a multitude of ways to improve your odds of winning at slot machines, many of which I’ll be explaining in the near future. In this article, I explain winning at slots in older casinos.
The basic approach described is not limited to just older-style casinos. However, it is the only way I know of to successfully improve your odds of winning via slots gambling at older-style casinos.
But, again, you don’t have to figure out, for now, if you play slots at an older- or newer-style casino. This “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach I’ve described has worked for me at both types of casinos.
Here, I’ve told you the story of how I figured out how to win at slots in older casinos by using this approach. As explained, I did this in 2004 while attending graduate school as a poor college student.
I’ve gone further, beyond explaining what to look for in a candidate slot machine, and discussed how to make the most of this winning slot machine, once found.
I wish you well if you decide to attempt this “how to win at slots in older casinos” approach, and would appreciate hearing from you about your successes via Twitter by tweeting or DM to @ProfessorSlots or commenting below.
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