On this blog we normally talk about matched betting, and the fact that it is the best way to make money online. This post is a little different. Rather than showing you how to make money, we’re going to talk about one of the easiest ways to lose it: Pokies.
Most of you are probably familiar with pokies. You’ve seen them in the casino, or in the local pub or club. However, some of you (especially if you are not from Australia) might a little confused by the word.
Pokies, or poker machines, are more commonly known outside of Australia as slot machines. They are machines with spinning reels (or video screens depicting spinning reels) which offer a payout if the reels land in a certain order.
The machines normally have some kind of fun theme (buried treasure, goldmines etc), and they have lots of flashing lights and ringing bells. They can seem like a bit of harmless fun…but don’t be fooled.
Pokies are designed to suck as much money out of your pockets as possible. The lights and bells are one-way that they do that, but they also use more devious methods.
When designing the reels, pokie manufacturers deliberately place the jackpot symbols in positions that will result in a ‘near win’. The jackpot symbol will fall just above or below the payout line. Or maybe the jackpot will land on the first two reels but be just off on the third. This is done on purpose to make the player feel like a big win is coming, and to keep them handing over their cash.
The Maths of Pokies
One figure that is sometimes used to defend pokies is their ‘guaranteed return-to-player percentage’. By law, pokies have to have a return-to-player percentage of at least 87%, which seems quite reasonable….until you dig a little deeper.
It’s a common mistake to think that if a machine has an RTP of 87% it will pay out $87 for every $100 deposited, but that’s not the case.
If you deposit $100 in a pokie and play $1 spins, it is unlikely that you will lose all of your money in just 100 spins. Instead you will have lots of small wins in amongst the $1 losses. You will also have lots of spins where you ‘win’ less than $1 (this is another trick to make you feel like you are winning when you are actually losing). It’s possible that you could have 1000 spins before your balance eventually reached zero.
If you have 1000 spins at $1 per spin, that gives a total spin value of $1000. This is the figure that the 87% is applied to. From that $1000, the pokie legally has to give back $870. It can keep $130 as profit.
But…didn’t you only deposit $100 in the first place?!
Pokies can keep 100% of the money deposited into them while still complying with minimum return-to-player percentages!
If you want to be a smart gambler, and make a regular profit, stay away from the pokies. Matched betting is a much better option.