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Why don't they listen?18 June 2009
I have many good friends who are gambling writers and they are fun, intelligent and humble people — after all they are, when all is said and done, merely writing about games that people play. They aren't discovering cures for cancer or ways to get into outer space. Gambling is fun and writing about gambling is also fun. That's the skinny.
Now I have one acquaintance that just started his career as a slot writer for a small tabloid slot publication. He is a bright young man with a master's degree in mathematics. And he is going totally insane when he gives a public speech or when he gets letters and e-mails from his readers.
"I give out the best information about the slot machines in my articles and my talks," he told me one day. "I tell the slot players which machines are the best to play; which machines are the worst to play based on their overall payback percentages. I explain in very simple terms the math of the machines and how all paybacks will affect your long-run prospects. I explain hit frequency and the RNG. I go step-by-step through everything. And you know what? They argue with me when I give talks!"
He continued, "Some will tell me that they heard from someone who knows these things that on each machine is a little code of numbers and when those numbers get higher the machine is about to pay off. When I asked them who this person in the know was, they tell me that he is a long time slot player who knows his stuff. I explain that this is a false notion and they look at me as if I am crazy. I used to work for a slot company for crying out loud!"
Poor kid, he is learning the hard way that not all slot players are interested in his scientific information on the machines. Many slot players have idiosyncratic views of how the machines work and why and when these machines will pay off.
The ranges of beliefs concerning slot machines go from the silly to the astoundingly dumb. Some players believe that if a slot machine has just hit a big jackpot, it is likely to hit again very soon because the machine is now hot. Some believe the opposite; that a machine that has just hit will go cold because of that specific hit. We know that machines aren't hot or cold, they are just pumping out their programming. If a big Megabucks jackpot is a one in 50 million event, it is a one in 50 million event every time the reels are spun. It might be possible that two of these jackpots will hit in a row or a short period of time but no matter — it is always a 50 million to one shot.
Certainly machines sometimes pay out a lot in a small period of time and certainly they sometimes seem like skinflints paying small amounts over long periods of time — but randomness always has odd patterns and what you see in this or that decision is randomness working itself out.
Some players think the actual feel of a machine can help them determine whether the machine will hit or not. Some players think that if the machine is hot to the touch it will get hot — while other players, equally fervent in their beliefs, think that machine will get cold. Some players think that if the machine is cool to the touch it will get cold — others believe it will get hot. If the machine is dented, it is a cold machine because someone punched it — or it is a hot machine because someone slapped it with joy after a big win.
Now this acquaintance finally asked, "Why don't people listen to me?"
I told him to think back to his school days. How many students actively listened to everything a teacher said? Few or none — otherwise everyone would have a 99 or 100 average. How many students used study hall to study and not daydream? Few or none.
I am reminded of a bible story. Moses has just freed the slaves from Egypt, after God did ten incredible miracles, finally drowning the Pharaoh's entire army in the Red Sea, the waters of which God had just parted for His people to walk across. Moses taught his people a valuable lesson about the power of God, didn't he?
Then Moses tells them to wait for him because he is going up the mountain and not to violate any of God's commands. He goes up the mountain and what do many of his students do? Everything Moses told them not to do.
I explained this to my young acquaintance, "If Moses couldn't teach everyone and he had God's help, don't feel bad because you can't teach everyone either." It's a good lesson to learn.
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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