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The Slots Rule1 November 2007
According to the Harrah's "Day in the Life of a Casino Gambler," which can be found on the Internet at http://www.harrahs.com/about_us/survey/030948_Survey.pdf, 74 percent of United States' casino gamblers play the slot machines. That is a remarkable number because in the 1950s craps was the favorite game of the casino's players with blackjack coming in second, which meant it was tied with roulette. Slots were played mostly by women and mostly for loose change.
Today fully 81 percent of the women casino gamblers play slots and 67 percent of the men prefer the one-armed bandits. Those are staggering numbers.
In the late 1960s blackjack became king of the casinos because the revolution called "card counting" came into being, thanks largely to a book titled Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp. Thousands upon thousands of would-be advantage players hit the casinos - and the casinos have been laughing ever since. Very few of the card counters were any good and the good ones usually played with a small edge while their wives or husbands or friends and/or significant others played the machines or the other table games. In 1984, the slots displaced the table games of the casinos. In both Atlantic City and in Las Vegas, the slots controlled more than 50 percent of the market - and it's just gone up from there.
Of the 52 million casino gamblers in America, about 38 million are slot players. Since the casinos have very high edges on slot play (anywhere from two percent to 17 percent) and since slot machines tend to be played faster and faster as the player gets into the action, the casinos' profits have skyrocketed into the stratosphere in the past 20 years.
How is it possible that almost 40 states have casino gambling? How is it possible that just about every casino in America makes a profit? Slots!
If it were not for the slot machines, there would not be as many casino gamblers. Slots are easy to play and require no special skills. Just put in your money, spin the reels, and pray that you get lucky. At blackjack, you have to make decisions that can be criticized by other players at the table [for some reason some blackjack players feel they have the right and the duty to tell everyone how to play!]. Many players don't want to be put under that kind of scrutiny.
Even though savvy basic-strategy blackjack players playing at regular blackjack games (i.e., those that pay 3-to-2 on a natural 21 as opposed to 6-to-5) face a small house edge of around one-half percent, players shy away from the game because it seems too complicated. Craps seems almost impossible.
But slots are friendly! They have bells and whistles and music. They give the impression that with just a little luck a big jackpot can be had for the asking. Slot players rarely think about how much money they are feeding a machine in the course of their play. If you were to ask a 25-cent slot player how much he puts through the machine in an hour, he'd probably say, "Oh, a hundred or so."
The fact of the matter is that most 25-cent slot players, playing three coins, will put in about $500 per hour. With a house edge of around eight percent on 25-cent machines, they stand to lose about $40 per hour. A blackjack player, betting $25 per hand, stands to lose a mere $15-$25 per hour, depending on how fast the dealer gets those cards on the table. Your 25-cent slot player is a bigger roller than your $25 blackjack player!
The only trouble casinos have with slot players is the fact that many slot players often burn out within three years and either quit playing or reduce their playing time and/or the amount they play. Very few average people can lose $40 per hour of play on 25-cent machines or, hold your breath, $108 per hour [5 percent casino edge] on one-dollar machines. Not if they want to go to casinos on a weekly or monthly basis. So the casinos have to keep coming up with new machines in order to fuel the slot players' interest and their dreams. For every new table game that is tried in the casinos, there are probably 50 new slot machines that are given a green light. Slot players are fickle and restless and are always looking for the new machine that will give them the gold. It rarely happens - unless, of course, the goddess of luck happens to smile upon them. Yes, there are some slot players who have made a fortune on the machines by getting that once-in-a-lifetime giant jackpot. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of slot players haven't and won't.
Now, we are not saying that if you like slots, you shouldn't play and that, instead, you should take up quilting (okay, that's an inside joke as Alene makes quilts!). However, knowing the high house edges, you must be determined to budget your money and control your time at the machines.
There is no reason why you should play more than six spins per minute. Most slot players actually average 10 to 12 spins. At six spins per minute a 25-cent player will lose about $22 per hour. Cut that down to four spins per minute and now you are looking at an hourly deficit of about $14 per hour. That is far more reasonable a sum than $40 per hour.
By controlling your time (i.e., your spins), you can still have the delightful casino experience without the heavy long-term losses.
Budgeting your money is also necessary. All casino gamblers, not just slot players, should open 401G accounts for their gambling bankroll. A 401G ("G" stands for gambling) account should be a checking account that is separate and apart from the money you use for real life. Each week or each paycheck put in a little money. Over time this account will grow if you are managing your spins correctly. How will this happen? Put in slightly more money than you are expected to lose.
Playing with a 401G behind you will take away a lot of the stress of gambling - since most of gambling's stress is losing!
There is no doubt that (for now) the slots rule the casinos. But to be a smart player, you have to rule the slots!
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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