A very common thought among slots players is that these games work on some sort of cycle, where they deliver prizes on a consistent basis. For example, one might think that a jackpot will come around after 100,000 spins on the dot.
This of course leads to players slinking around the casino trying to find the game that’s about to hit. So is there any validity to the idea that slots run on a payout cycle? As I’ll explain below, the answer is both yes and no.
Totally Random in the Short Term
All slots operate off a random number generator (RNG), which cycles through millions or billions of numbers to determine outcomes. Now, the RNG is programmed to pay out a certain percentage over the long haul. For example, a slots game with 95% payback will deliver 95 cents back on every dollar wagered. But again, that’s long term…
The reality is that the average player’s experience will be much more volatile. For example, one player might only win $20 after wagering $100, while another wins $160 back on their $100 investment. No, it’s not fair, but it is completely random and working towards the stated payback percentage.
Where do the Cycles come in?
As you might have guessed from what we just discussed, you can’t just expect a certain symbol to come up every X amount of spins. Instead, symbols are merely programmed to pay out at an average of a certain number of spins. For instance, if it takes 100,000 spins to hit the jackpot on average, the top prize might be hit after 50,000 spins or it could be hit after 250,000 spins – there’s no solid prediction here.
All you can really count on is a general idea when it comes to payouts. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to even figure out the average payout cycle because slotsmakers don’t list this info. The only real way to figure it out is to play the same game and record your results – I know, boring.