Should You Lurk at the Slots?

There was a scene in a popular America sitcom involving slot machines in the 1990s. The sitcom was called Friends, and a woman named Phoebe takes a trip to a Las Vegas casino. She has a great time at the slot machines. Unfortunately, she discovers an old woman following her around the casino with a cup full of coins. Phoebe soon learns the woman is called a lurker. A lurker is a person who waits until someone gives up on a slot machine and walks away. The lurker then starts playing the machine with the hopes he or she will win the jackpot the previous player missed by giving up. Much of the comedy of the sitcom episode involves Phoebe trying to deal with the lurker. However, is the strategy of a lurker even effective? Should you try it at a casino?

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Unfortunately, the strategy of a lurker doesn’t hold up to examination. Most slot machines are required to be completely random. This means each turn at a slot machine has no relationship to the turn taken immediately before it. It is tempting to believe that a machine that is on a losing streak will eventually give a payout. However, this is just like flipping a coin ten times. If you get tails nine times, you might think the odds of getting heads on the tenth flip is greater. Sadly, it is still fifty-fifty. The same is true for slot machines.

The next time you are trying to play the slots, don’t waste your time lurking. It won’t help you, and it will only annoy other people. Just enjoy the experience of playing slot machines and leave the lurking to the less informed. Let them look silly instead of you!