How to win on slot machines – Interview with slot machine expert Frank Legato

Hi I’m Steve Bourie the author of the American
casino guide
which is a number one bestselling book
in the US on the subject of casino
gambling and travel
and the only book that comes with more
than one thousand dollars in casino
if you wanna know more about me or my
book be sure to visit my website at

today we’re here in Las Vegas at
g2e this is the Global Gaming Expo
it is the world’s largest trade show for
the gaming industry
today I’m going to interview Frank Legato
Frank is the editor of gaming
business magazine and Frank also writes
gaming columns about slot machines for
consumer publications
so let’s go in and see what Frank has to
say on the subject of slot machines
I am here with Frank Legato. Frank is the
editor of global gaming business
magazine which is the largest trade
publication for the gaming industry
he writes about slot machines, he writes
about the casino industry in general
and Frank also he has a book
how to win millions playing slot
machines or lose trying
and Frank’s written about slot machines for
how many years now?
26 Wow 26 years and you know
everything there is to know about slot
machine, yes?
Except how to win on them, yes. Well that’s
funny because I
I have a list of questions for you here
and number one
is what is the secret to winning on a
slot machine? Its dumb
winning a slot machine is dumb luck I
mean you can’t guarantee yourself that
you’re gonna win on a slot machine
nobody can guarantee you a win. The best
you could do is minimize your
chances of losing and the way you do
is up by choosing the best games to play
and choosing your bankroll accordingly
bankroll your game accordingly, in other
words the best games to play
are the if you’re main goal is to win
money you’re probably best going with
more traditional style games which have
a lower house hold or a higher pay back
higher pay back percentage means the
house edge is lower
that’s what it translate into. So if you can
play a higher
end game a dollar game or higher have the
highest return
overall and play them with a sufficient
bankroll and I’m talking for a dollar game
at least a couple hundred dollars.
That gives you a better chance to
to wait out that 2 percent house edge
and when you do win
you’re gonna win a lot bigger. Okay well let’s go to the basics so
when you walk up to a slot machine
what’s going on inside that machine?
What’s going on inside that machine is
that there’s a computer program into
numbers have been entered for each
possible symbol
that can come up on a reel and for a blank
that can come on a reel
they all have a number assigned to them
then there’s duplication the
lower-paying symbols the blanks
have more numbers assigned to them
to the same to the same positions the
jackpot symbols have
a couple you know one or two numbers
assigned to them and
what’s going on when you walk up to a
slot machine is a random number
generator program
is generating all the numbers that have
been entered into their program in a
random sequence
a hundred numbers a second it’s generating
a hundred numbers a second
so when you put money in it’s still
generating those numbers until you hit
the spin button or pull the handle
and at that instant you do that you push
the spin button
the computer freezes this sequence of
that the RNG has generated at
that instant
and translates it into your reel result
tells the reels where to
stop. If you’re talking about a traditional
you know or tells the video screen what
to display and it all happens in a
fraction of a second
so that’s what’s happening when you walk
it’s generating those numbers at a
hundred numbers a second and
when you sit down,
your timing
when you push the button will determine
what reels
what reel results you get. Okay so if
push it at the right time you’ll get a winner
if you push it at the wrong time to get a
Yes in other words it’s luck I
mean you can’t determine
what the right time is there’s no way to
when that random number generator is gonna
come up with that
great combination. Alright now people always hear about
loose machines or tight machines people
refer to a casino oh this casino has loose
machines oh this casino has tight
now is there any truth to that? Yes there
I mean magazines like casino player
have logged it
for years and the casinos
are generally commercial casinos are
required to report their hold numbers to
whatever regulatory
is there and those hold numbers
report how much of the wagers on slot machines
were held by the casino as earnings but
if you flip flop those numbers
that’s a public record of the pay
back percentage of how much
of the slot wages have been given back
to players in jackpots
and those numbers can be logged
and looked at and you know what
magazines like casino player and strictly
slots do
is they take those numbers and compare
them between casinos
in between casino jurisdictions so you
can see by historical record
which casinos have given more back to
their players than others
and you know generally what you’re going
to find is
those casinos are in North Las Vegas
the northern suburbs of Las Vegas, the western suburbs just
the outskirts of Las Vegas the
locals casinos
Is a slot machine ever due to hit?
It’s impossible to know it’s impossible
to know. No, it’s never do to hit
every spin is independent of every
other spin as far as what it’s going to
don’t forget the RNG is generating
numbers at a hundred times a second
hundred-numbers a second and it’s constantly
generating those numbers so there’s no
way of determining
what number is gonna hit. On a classic
slot machine
there’s only a
very small you know number there might
be 8 paying combinations
there might be you know maybe a hundred
reel stops physical reel stops in other
words physical spaces
that can stop on that single
So there’s really
it can cycle through the entire
of reel results the entire possibility
of jackpots
or or losing spins can cycle through a
couple a times between the time you hit
the button once in the time the next
time you get the button so there’s really
no way of determining
when a slot machine is due. It can
a slot machine can you know can hit
jackpots 10 times in a row and not hit
for another you know for another week
Okay so another question along
the same lines
there are some players who say well this
machine hasn’t hit for a while
it’s due to hit and then there’s people
with just the opposite theory who say
well this machine’s been hitting for a
so it’s a good machine to play because
it’s gonna continue to hit So are
either one of those are valid or invalid
what would you say?
There’s really no way to determine
whether a machine is going to hit on
the next
spin or not regardless of what it’s done
in the past
past a results are no indication of what
the future’s going to hold for any slot
If a casino wants to change the
payback percentage on a machine
they can do that and what is the
procedure if they wanted to do something
like that?
Yes, it’s perfectly legal to
change a percentage and
you know the procedure right now in
ninety-nine point nine percentof the
casinos out there
is they have to buy a new chip and they
have to have technicians go out
open the door take out one e-prom
chip it looks like a little brush
put in another one and close the door
have a regulator there generally to
the new pay-back percentage
That’s the way it’s done now, now with
server-based gaming coming in
a few years they can do that they can
change a game program remotely
but generally you know they have to
tell regulators ahead of time when the
program is going to change
now and generally what they’re doing
with the the initial applications out
there is not changing
a percentage on the same machine what
they’re doing is they’re changing game
you know they’re changing denominations they’re changing from pennies to nickles from
pennies to quarters you know they’re
completely changing the game
that’s in the same box and that’s what
they’re doing remotely
the pay-back percentages the rules
in place now
say that you can’t change it while
somebody’s playing you have to
wait till machine has been idle for for
for several minutes
to change anything on it.
How widespread is server-based gaming at
this point?
It’s still in the experimental stages
it’s still just being tried on a few
banks of machines here and there
at various casinos I just you know did
just moderated a couple panels on it as
a matter of fact
and what’s happening now is the
and the manufactures are working on
new applications for the system and what
they need to do with the applications
is provide something for players
that they don’t have now and something
the players will enjoy
in other words if the system’s don’t
allow casinos to make more money you
if the systems don’t drop
more players in
and allow incremental revenue then you
know they’re just a convenience for the
and they’re you know they’re not go then
there’s a big investment involved
they have to have an Ethernet equipped
floor these are basically they’re
setting up a local area network computer
for their slot floor and especially
older casinos have to completely
tear out their casino floor and equip
it for for Ethernet
thats a big investment you’re talking so
you’re talking big investments here
and if there’s not a big return on
investment it’s just not worth it
and the way you get a big return on
investment is providing players
a play experience that they don’t have
with standard slot machines
If you had to give an estimate of how
widespread you think
server-based gaming is right now what
percent of the casinos in the United States have
it what would be your best guesstimate?
A fraction of one percent, not even a fraction
of one percent I mean it’s very small
and a lot of the casinos
at least in North America the vast
majority of casinos
that do have it are just having
it on a bank or two and they’re trying it
and they’re seeing what kind of
applications they can do they can
play experiences for players in other
words if a high end player comes in
they can they can as soon as he puts his
player’s club card in
his favorite five games will appear on the
screen you know
and you can choose from that menu that’s
that’s one that’s one way
it’s providing more value to players
I had one lady who told me that she
her father was in the gaming business he
was a slot manager
and he had a little clicker in his pocket
and he could go around
and click it and change the pay back percentage on a slot machine
now you said before that that couldn’t
You have to open the door and it won’t
happen with server based gaming either
because you have to
actually provide regulators with a
schedule of when you’re gonna
change pay-back percentage so they can
look on their computer screens and make
the new pay-back percentage is what you
say it is so you can’t just go around
and you have the rule that you can’t
change percentage you can change
anything on a game while somebody’s
so all those rules are against it and I
go back to the to the gaming license
why would a casino risk its
gaming license
okay just one last question for you what
is your best advice for slot players?
Bankroll for the game that you’re gonna
play in other words
you might have to make sure you have
enough to ride out that house edge that’s on
a slot machine
if you know if you sit down at a
dollar machine
with with a twenty you know you have
to be extremely lucky
extremely lucky to
actually play that slot machine for a
while hey it happens
you can make you can have thrown a
twenty into a dollar machine and hit on
the first
round and then you play for a while but you
know really
you have to really know how that
machines going to behave a
traditional slot machine is gonna have
dry spells punctuated by big wins so you
plan for that eventuality
if you wanna play if you’re if if you’re
in it for entertainment
you can sit down at a multi-line penny
and you can play for a long time on
a small investment you know so sit down
with with twenty dollars
but know in the end you’re probably still going
to lose
but know that going in you know you
you’ll be entertained and
those people are playing for the it
entertainment over they already know
that penny machines pay the lowest on
the floor
they pay usually you know usually
you’re giving away more like 12 or 13
percent on a penny machine
as opposed to you know 10 or nine or on
a dollar machine maybe only two or three
so you know basically a know what could
how your machine’s going to behave
and bankroll accordingly That’s my best
Alright sounds like good advice now if
people want to find out more about you
or your book where can they do that
The book is available on Amazon and it
it was written in in 03 so it’s already
kind of outdated
but you know
you can go to our website today
our magazine is always up on there and
it’s a very good source of information
for the gaming industry
Okay thank you Frank Legato thank you
very much you’re spending time with us
Don’t forget that you can see more
of our educational gaming videos on our
YouTube channel
just go to


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