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By John Grochowski on Thursday July 22, 2010
gaming, gaming-strategy, odds, slots
A slot machine player wrote to say she was intrigued to watch two slot technicians open a three-reel machine. They flipped a switch, hit the play button — and every combination that showed on the reels was a winner, in order. First game the jackpot symbols, then the 7s, then the triple bars on down to the lowest winner, a single cherry.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I always was told that you couldn’t make the machine pay off, and here everything was a winner. That makes me wonder how random the games are. Do all those winners mean the odds of winning are lower for the next player? I mean, somebody has to get the losing spins, right?”
What she saw was technicians running a test program. Slot reels on games that have physical reels instead of a video screen sometimes can be jarred during cleaning, and the techs need to be sure the symbols still line up properly.
The test program has no affect on your chances of winning. When the techs are running the test program, they’re bypassing the game’s random number generator. That can’t be done when someone is playing for money. Your results are still governed by the random number generator, and that RNG doesn’t even know the test program has been run.
Past results never affect future outcomes on slot machines. The RNG just keeps generating random results, and eventually big wins or big losing streaks fade into statistical insignificance. But in the case of a test program, there’s no need for any such fading. It’s outside the realm of play for money — all those “winning” spins never really happened.