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9 February 2016
By Frank Scoblete
I am quite certain there have been times in your slot-playing career that you were convinced a slot machine had an evil intelligence and was deliberately and delightfully causing your losses. That this machine was looking at you from behind its façade and snickering at your misfortune.
In fact, the thought that slot programming is not just normal computer programming but flirts with artificial intelligence has probably crossed many a slot player’s mind. This is especially true when long losing streaks occur. I have heard slot players say, “I hate that machine” as they point to a specific machine that had pummeled them in the past as if that machine knew exactly what it was doing when it did so.
Recall that in the movie The Terminator the computer system Skynet gained intelligence as it incorporated more and more computers into itself. This then causes Skynet to take control of all things computer, Internet and military. Finally, Skynet launches a nuclear war against humanity, killing most of us and leaving those few who live to try to fight an almost hopeless battle against the computers and their machines.
So the movie begins with a “terminator,” a single-minded killing machine, played perfectly by a pumped-up Arnold Schwarzenegger, coming back through time to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of the future John Connor, the leader of the rebellion against the machines. And so it goes through this movie and a series of generally good science fiction movies; a series of terminators trying to nail the mother of John Connor or John Connor himself.
So are there really intelligent machines? Not yet. We’re close to their time, but thankfully not just yet. In fact, I am still having trouble with non-intelligent machines, so the longer the delay the better for me. Slot machines are not intelligent machines or even semi-intelligent machines. They just deal with multiple numbers and blind selections of those numbers to tell the reels or the screen what symbols should come up. That’s about it.
Let me relax any apprehensions you might have that the machines we play exhibit human awareness, human nastiness, human delight when they take our money and give back little or nothing in return. That’s how slot machines are programmed. They will get hot; they will get cold; you will win some; you will lose some more. There is no intelligence needed for the machines to do what they are programmed to do.
Those stretches when you find yourself being clobbered by the slot machine equivalent of Skynet are merely par for the course. So are those occasions when you hit some big payouts and find yourself in slot-player heaven. The machine doesn’t like you when you win and hate you when you lose; it’s just fulfilling its programming and you happened to be there when something good (for you and not the casino) occurred.
If we think of slot machines as terminators programmed for one thing, the taking of our money, then we have a choice of ways to play them. We can stay at one machine and “come hell or high water” just keep throwing our money into it. Or we can flee that machine and try to find one that is somewhat gentler to our bankroll.
My advice: Flee!
To me fleeing is the best prescription. While it won’t change the nature of the slot machines’ programming; fleeing will make you at least think you are starting afresh; it will make you feel you have another shot at winning some money or making up for the money you saw terminated by the last machine. Indeed, the emotional impact of losing decision after decision on a single slot machine can be draining and unnerving. So switching machines is an emotional relief – at least for a little while.
It is possible that the new machine will ultimately treat you just as the previous one did. A terminator is a terminator after all. However, if that happens get up and go to another machine.
I wish I could say that my strategy changes the nature of the slot machine. That such “fleeing” is the way to change your expectation. Sadly I can’t say that.
Perhaps the best way to play is to take a certain amount of money and say, “I will play this amount on the first machine. If I lose that amount I will go to a second machine, then a third machine.” Maybe breaking up a session bankroll is the way to keep the terminators at bay long enough for at least some enjoyment. I also don’t discount the possibility that a player can defeat a terminator on any given visit. Schwarzenegger’s terminator was destroyed at the end of the movie. Maybe if you are fortunate the terminators you encounter will be defeated too.
Stranger things have happened. At least, that is what my computer just told me. Yikes! I think it is now thinking!
Frank Scoblete’s latest books are "I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps," "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic" and "I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack." Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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