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      Sunday, November 23, 2014
Saskatchewan! Healthy people. A healthy province.

Myth: I can win. I have a system.

Many players believe that there is a system, lucky charm or pattern of play that will help them win when playing VLTs or slot machines. They remember a time when they won and try to reproduce those exact conditions again. The truth is, there is nothing a player can do that will influence the outcome.

The results on VLTs and slot machines are determined by a computer chip in each machine called a Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG chooses thousands of numbers every second, and the result of the spin is determined at the exact moment the spin or play button is pressed.

The RNG ensures that results are random and impossible to predict. The RNG is continuously cycling through numbers even when the machine is not being played. There is no way to tell what numbers the RNG will pick.

Many gamblers believe that two totally separate events (coincidence), like the RNG choosing a winning result and a player touching the screen before a spin, means that touching the screen in the future will help to get a winning result. However, it is important that players understand how the machines actually work and realize that behaviours such as touching the screen before a spin, playing the same machine or wearing a lucky shirt does not influence the outcome of the game.

The next spin has absolutely nothing to do with the previous spin. VLT and slot machines are completely random. Every spin gives a player the exact same chance of winning or, more often, losing.

Myth: The machine is due.

No machine is ever due to win. The odds of winning the jackpot are the same on every spin. Although it is possible to get winning results on a VLT or slot machine two spins in a row, it is also possible to go thousands and even millions of spins without winning the top prize.

This does not mean a machine is hot or cold, it’s just the randomness of the game. The number of losing results is much higher than winning results, so over the long term, players are almost certain to lose more than they win.

Machines that have not paid out the top prize in thousands or even millions of spins are no closer to paying out the top prize than they were after the first spin. The RNG is constantly choosing thousands of numbers every second, and as all results are available every spin, previous results do not have any affect on the next spin.

A player’s odds of winning never improve no matter how long they play the game, or whether the machine has or has not paid out.

Myth: Poker is a game of skill, and I’m good at it.

This myth is probably one of the most difficult to bust. There is significant debate worldwide on whether poker, specifically Texas Hold’Em, is a game of skill or a game of chance.

It’s probably fair to say that it’s a game that involves a little bit of skill and a whole bunch of chance. The elements of skill, in the game, involve knowing the rules, bluffing, figuring out if your opponents are bluffing and knowing when to bet and when to fold.

However the factors that have the largest impact on the outcome are left to chance. Players have:

  • No control over which cards are dealt to them.
  • No control over which cards are dealt to their opponent.
  • No control over their opponents’ behaviour.

The numbers are working against you:
In Texas Hold’em there are nearly 134 million final poker hands that a player can have.

If playing against 5 other opponents there are more than 9.7 trillion possible starting hand combinations that could come up…and that’s before the five community cards are turned over and taken into account.

Television has made Texas Hold’em a very popular game. Prior to the televising of the World Series of Poker, few players entered the main event.

 1970's average entrants = 22 
 1980's average entrants =  127
 1990's average entrants =  272
 2000 - 2003 average entrants =  649
 Since 2004 - average entrants =  5,832

Although many people believe that poker is primarily a game of skill, it is interesting to note that only four players have won the World Series of Poker main event multiple times: Johnny Moss (1970, 1971& 1974), Doyle Brunson (1976 & 1977), Stu Ungar (1980, 1981, & 1997) and Johnny Chan (1987 & 1988). (

Stu Ungar who won his last title in 1997 was the last player to win the main event multiple times and that was in an era when there were only a few hundred entrants.

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