The Truth About Slot Machines: What’s The House Edge?

You’ve probably heard that slot machines are rigged to favor the casino, with a small casino edge. That means you probably think slots are not worth playing because you’re sure to lose money. You might be right on both counts. But there is good news too! If you only play slots at real-world casinos, then, yes, you have almost no shot of beating the edge in the long run. The reason is simple: Casinos make more than 90% of their profits from slots and other games where they have a built-in advantage. In fact, most online casinos offer games with even smaller house edges so they can attract gamers who care about reducing the cost of playing in their virtual world.

What’s the Real Casino Edge on Slots?

The first thing to know is that the house edge is not constant. It varies depending on how much the machine is being played. When the machine is idle, the casino makes nothing. When it is being played a lot, they make money. The second thing to know is that the average 5% casino edge is based on a mathematical calculation called the “martingale,” a betting strategy that maximizes the amount won on the machine, no matter how much is played. The martingale system is simple: Put in a certain amount of money, say $100. When you lose, bet the same amount again. You’ll lose again, but you’ll win the next time. Repeat that process until you win. The idea is that you’ll win with the first bet you make after losing. But there’s a flaw in the system: It doesn’t account for the fact that the machine might have just finished a lucky streak, in which case you’ll lose more often than you win. In that case, you’ll run out of money.

Should You Play Slots?

If you only play slots at real-world casinos, then, yes, you have almost no shot of beating the house edge in the long run. The only way to do that is to somehow rig the machine or play it for hundreds of thousands of hours. But if you play at an online casino, and you understand the edge and the martingale system, you can play slots profitably. If you use basic strategy, play for the long term, and choose a slot machine with a small casino advantage, you can win.