Slot Machine about to payout

The question in the title might be among the most frequently asked ones in the gambling industry. It is not really surprising, either  — players have always been on the hunt for the slots that are due.

After all, no matter how entertaining a game is, having to deal with a series of losses certainly sucks all the fun out of it.

Since this has been such a hot topic, the internet abounds with all sorts of advice on it. From mathematical calculations and visual cues to bizarre tips and superstitions — there’s no end to the amount of information you’ll find.

Today, we’ll try to clear the air a little and find the actual answer to this question. If that sounds interesting to you, stick around and have a look at what lies behind the enigmatic slot machines.


How to Tell if a Slot Machine Is Hot or Cold

First of all, we should state that slot machines do run hot or cold from time to time. If you’re a slot enthusiast yourself, you must have witnessed a sequence of losses or wins coming from the same machine.

So, since it does happen, the question is — what causes it?

Variance and Probability

Variance or Volatility IconTo answer that, we have to discuss two important concepts — variance and probability.

Whether a machine is due or not is related to variance, also known as slot . It is a measurement of how often a particular slot machine might hit.

Every slot is programmed to provide a certain hit frequency. As a result, we need to take probability into account — the odds of winning when playing on a specific slot machine.

These factors also play a role in the type of rewards you can win. Namely, low-volatility games do bring smaller prizes, but you’ll be able to win more frequently. On the other hand, high-volatility slots can make you a lot of money at once — however, these machines don’t hit as often, so it’s much harder to get hold of any of their prizes.

In the olden days, when we only had physical, electro-mechanical slot machines, it was possible to calculate the likelihood of a hit. The machines had physical reels with symbols and blanks called stops.

Those players who logged the symbols and the stops were able to calculate the odds. However, due to digitalization, this can no longer be done.

Calculating the Odds Today

Nowadays, machine outcomes are governed by a computer program called a random number generator (RNG). The symbols you see on a slot machine correspond to sequences of numbers that the RNG generates after you pull the slot lever or press the spin button.

There is no way of knowing what the outcome will be, though.

However, since the generator goes through the numbers at incredible rates, it’s impossible to predict a pattern, even when the machine is idle. Therefore, with this kind of technology, we cannot calculate and know for sure when a machine is hot or cold. It’s just a guessing game at this point.

How to Pick a Winning Slot Machine

Another question that frequently comes up in relation to this topic is whether it is feasible to recognize a winning slot machine.

Is there a tell that gives them away? What game plan can we arm ourselves with when on a hunt for the right one?

If you’ve been on the lookout for a while, you know that there are plenty of strategies floating around. For the sake of the argument, we’ll use two examples — the zig-zag method and the naked pull system.

According to the former, a slot machine is about to hit if the winning symbols above and below the payline are in a zig-zag pattern.

On the other hand, the latter is a system advising players to stop pulling the slot lever after they’ve lost seven times, as this indicates that the machine has gone cold.

These methods were very popular in the world of physical slot machines for quite a while, but they would never work for online slots. We’ve already discussed the reasons for that in the previous paragraph.

As we‘ve mentioned, the slot machine pays out based on the number the generator has stopped on, not the symbols.

  • Note: The symbols are just a message telling the player whether they have won or lost. We cannot use their position as an indicator whatsoever.

The same goes for the naked lever strategy. Every pull of the lever is an event that’s completely unrelated to the ones before or after it. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve lost using the same slot machine — you might still win the next time around, and vice versa.

With online slots, we simply cannot predict the way in which the RNG will generate the numbers your win is based on.

Is There Anything That Can Help Slot Players?

In regard to everything said so far, the situation can seem hopeless. However, there’s still some valuable advice that we can give you.

Here’s what you should take into consideration when searching for the right slot machine:


This abbreviation stands for Return To Player — the amount a slot will give back to players over a large number of spins. For example, if their RTP is 95%, that means that it pays out $95 for every $100 that it takes.

It basically tells you how much you can expect to lose in a particular game over time. While this won’t do much for a single slot session of yours, it can certainly help you in the long run.

You can read about slots’ RTPs on online casino review sites – such as ours. You might be able to find the RTP in a slot’s info tab as well, so we advise you to always check for that beforehand.


Moreover, going for the games with smaller jackpots can also be a good choice since they tend to pay out more frequently.

These jackpots might not sound as enticing, but they can make you more money over a longer period.


It’s become customary for online casinos to use various bonuses and promotions as incentives to draw new customers in. Besides cash, these promos can also offer free spins.

So why not make hay while the sun shines?

You can get to know the games, find what suits your taste, and make some profit along the way if you’re lucky — all that, completely risk-free.


We all know how exciting it is to play slots — they’re a fun distraction, which doesn’t require too much brainpower and can bring you a bag of cash within seconds.

Unfortunately, this makes it easy for you to get carried away and forget how much you have lost.

So, before you start spinning the reels on your favorite slot machine, decide on a budget.

Don’t let yourself lose more than you can afford. You want to be able to get back to this hobby again.


As you can see, with the technology casinos use today, it is impossible to know when a slot machine is about to hit or when it’s hot. However, this does not mean that you should give up on playing these games.

A good part of the fun we derive from slots stems from their unpredictability — and knowing the secret behind the trick kind of ruins the magic, doesn’t it?

About the Author

Author Rachel is a law student, and she is helping us out with the legal side of things regarding casino gambling in the US. The legality of gambling in the United States is continually changing, and it has especially been turbulent in the last couple of years, so knowing which states legalized gambling and which are yet to do so is getting a bit difficult. But if you need to know everything about the legality of gambling in your state, Rachel is the person to ask. She keeps track of the latest gambling bills and is ready to bring you news. During her free time, Rachel likes riding her bike and playing video games.