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In the more than half a century that video poker machines have been available, there have been several schemes developed to “cheat” the machine in order to win more money. 

Some were successful – for a while. Others were just wishful thinking or schemes hatched by scam artists to the unsuspecting and gullible gambling public.

This article examines some procedures touted as keys to the vaults of the gambling tips kingdom but having no basis in fact. 

Have you tried any of them?

1. Hot (literally) games

This scheme only applied when most video poker games used coins rather than currency or tickets. Pundits claimed you could tell a machine that was about to pay off by checking the temperature of the coins that were paid out. If they were hot, the machine was also “hot.” It was ready to hit it big. 

If they were cold, no sense even attempting to play here. Try a different machine.

The logic, at first blush, seems to make sense – at least to the casual observer. The coins are cold when they are first added to the coin hopper. As they remain in the hopper, they gradually warm up due to the heat generated by the lights and electronics of the machine. The longer they are in the machine, the warmer they get until they become quite warm – hot, actually.

Taking this logic a bit further, the coins would be warm because they were in the machine for a long time. Since jackpots occur infrequently, the warmer the coins, the longer it has been since the last jackpot and the more likely the machine was due to pay off big. 

If the coins were cold, someone recently cashed out a huge win and the coin hopper had to be refilled. This means it would probably be a long time until the next jackpot.

As I said, the logic seems sound at first blush. But is it?

At best, this scheme offers a small indication of how long it had been since the last jackpot was hit. But there are several reasons that the coin hopper might have required a refill.

Video Poker Machine

It is just as likely that there had been several, perhaps dozens of, small to medium wins the previous evening or even the previous day or days. The machine could have gone for days, even weeks without hitting the jackpot, required a refill, and the coins would be cold.

On the other hand, it is also possible that no one played the machine since the last refill – a refill prompted by a jackpot payout. Maybe it was a slow time and for whatever reason, no one sat down at this particular machine. Even though the coins were hot, the machine hit a jackpot just a few hands previously.

So, coins could be cold even though it has been several weeks since the last jackpot. They also could be hot even though a jackpot was hit very recently. 

Even if it had been weeks or even months since the machine hit the last jackpot, video poker is random. It is just as likely any machine – those with warm coins and those with cold coins will hit the next royal flush. 

At any rate, coin-based video poker is all but extinct. Even if the length of time since the last jackpot were an accurate indication of when a machine is due, the paper tickets now generated offer no clue as to when the last jackpot was hit.

2. Let’s jolt the machine

Bartenders I know swear by this one. 

If you are in a slump, your fortunes can be changed by simply switching to another game on the machine you are playing. Play a few hands and switch back to your favorite game. They opine that this changes the flow of the game. This simple “jolt” to the machine offers a much better shot at hitting the big one.

I know several people who have tried this gambit. Some swear by it and others swear it is hogwash. Others who have tried this have found that it works – sometimes. 

Of course, the same thing could have happened without switching games and switching back. That is how random works.

Then there is the phenomenon of selective memory. The human mind tends to remember what it wants to remember (the times the switch worked) and forget the other times that were totally unsuccessful.

There is no scientific proof that this technique works. But there is also no real harm using it. Unfortunately, there is no real advantage either.

3. Abandon ship!

Similar to the previous technique, bartenders and players alike swear by this one. When things go south, switch machines. The logic behind this move states that every machine has streaks. The current machine is in a losing streak. Switching to a different machine gives the opportunity of hitting a machine that is on a winning streak.

While it is true that there are streaks while playing video poker, streaks are only observable after they occur. There is no way to predict beforehand when any streak will start or end. Random means just that. Results are random – unpredictable.

So, similarly to the “jolt the machine” technique, there is no scientific proof that the “abandon ship” technique works. Nor is there any harm in using it.

4. Summary 

  • There are several schemes and techniques claiming to allow a player to cheat a machine by predicting when the next jackpot will occur.
  • None of the techniques presented here are backed with scientific proof that they work.
  • Those who claim they work are either using flawed logic, selective memory, or lying.
  • Even though these techniques are not proven to work, they also cause no harm.

The next article will offer techniques that actually work – with a caveat. Check back soon.

Jerry “Stickman” has been involved in casino gambling for nearly 30 years. He is an expert in blackjack, craps, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He started playing blackjack in the late ‘80s, learned several card counting systems and used these skills to become an advantage blackjack player and overall winner of this game. He also acquired the skills necessary to become an overall winner in the game of craps, accomplishing this by a combination of throwing skill and proper betting techniques. Stich is also an overall winner playing video poker.