“When should you walk away from a cold machine?” This is a question I get asked a lot, and my answer might surprise you: There’s no such thing as a cold machine. A slot machine’s random number generator resets for every single spin. This means that if a machine is set to pay a jackpot once out of every one thousand spins, the odds are one in a thousand on every single spin. If you watch someone else spin 999 times and lose, the machine won’t pay you out on spin #1,000. Long term, the statistics always work in the casino’s favor, so if you’re just going to play the stats game, then trust me, you’re going to end up a statistic. There’s really no use in strategizing too much.
Sure, you can set limits, and that will help you mitigate your losses, but it won’t help you win. And when you walk into a casino ready to spend as much money as I do, there’s no point in setting a price threshold, no point in setting a number of spins threshold, and no point in even having any general rules about when to walk away.
So first, let’s talk price. Most people should definitely set limits for themselves. If $1,000 is all you can afford to lose, then of course, walk away after you lose $1,000 on a machine. But I can afford to lose a whole lot more, so I really don’t think about this too much. Generally, you’ll see me play until I hit a jackpot (which does happen, eventually), or I’m looking for the machine to come back from a large loss – although sometimes, that takes a long time, and most people don’t have the pockets I have to wait that out. Chances are, you’ll need to be more cost-cautious than I am, so please, in this instance, do as I say and not as I do.
The same goes for number of spins. Again, if you’re on a budget, this can be a pretty good system. For example, with $10 spins, maybe you’ll establish in advance that you’re going to walk away after 100 spins, no matter how much you’ve won or lost. If you’re disciplined, that’s an easy rule to follow. But once again, I personally don’t need to do this, and so I generally don’t.
Occasionally, I do set a set an amount threshold, but most often, I’ll follow no rules at all. I’ll just play until I hit a jackpot or get most of my money back, and look for the machine to reset to the 10% hold rate. Walking away is definitely safer, but then, you don’t know if the next spin that you didn’t do would have been the winner. Case in point: One time, I was live streaming at The Lodge in Colorado, playing 88 Fortunes. Well, after a while, I decided to quit, and the next person who played it hit The Grand for $89K. That could have been me! But by that same token, there was that one time when I probably should have walked away before I lost $100,000.
Really, it all comes down to this: Never walk away from a machine because “it feels cold” or because you have a “gut feeling.” That’s total nonsense. Instead, walk away from a machine when you can’t afford to lose any more money on it, or when you’re just sick and tired of playing that particular game. Or, if you have money to lose like I do, then hey, just don’t walk away at all.