Years ago, I read an article describing human trials in connection with gambling. The experiment is to determine exactly what is in the human brain that causes people to want to gamble.
It’s not always about the problem of gambling, but just trying to figure out what the chemical reaction took place that got lots of people excited about winning. One of the surprises that emerged from this study was the chemical reaction between winning and nearly winning was not too far away.
This might make sense in real life situations. You and your friend are bowling and he beats you with four pins, and you keep getting excited about it. Besides, he can usually beat you with 30 pins, so you came oh so close to beating him. You will get to him next time. Losing the World Series is undoubtedly disappointing, but at some point many players should realize how exciting it is to get there visiting Senopatipoker.
But gambling seems black and white. You either win or lose money (okay, you push too sometimes!). I don’t remember ever being a little excited when my double to 20 was lost to dealer 21 – especially the kind where he took five cards to get to 21!
But, what happens in my brain when I hold a matching JK and draw 10-A of the same outfit, along with 7 of different clothes? Let’s face it, there’s a bit of a rush there. Cards are usually dealt too quickly to really allow the order to be a problem. Maybe 7 comes out first, but you see the 4-Card Royal Flush at the end and your brain thinks “just missed!”
It turns out that this rush is what makes people want to gamble. So, what is learned is not only the roar of victory but almost doing it keeps the player playing. I’m not sure which came first, the actual experiment or this general sense is always correct. However, slot machine designers seem to have known this for a long time.
From a gambling perspective, slot machines are of course random, but from a transparency point of view, not that much. If you play a single spin or play for an hour at the slot machine, you will win like everyone else. In this case, it’s completely random.
What’s not so random is the specific way you will lose. There may be 20 symbols on each of the three reels. In theory, this means 8,000 possible combinations (20 x 20 x 20). However, 75% (or more) of these combinations may never arise due to programming.
This is completely legal and does not directly affect your chances of winning or losing. After all, one losing hand is the same as the other, right? If 90% of all combinations are losers, do you really care which one it is? Your first reaction may be – “no.”
However, your subconscious doesn’t agree. Getting three unrelated symbols that don’t pay much even if they come together doesn’t register with your brain nearly as much as 7-7-Peach. Two 7! I almost won is what your brain screams out.
Somewhere inside, some of you estimate you only need one more 7 to win a lot of money – maybe next time. The problem is 7-7-Peaches are set to appear much more frequently than Lemon-Lemon-Peaches, even if the odds of each appear to be the same. Slots designers know that 7-7-Peach keeps you on the machine, so combinations are programmed to occur much more frequently than 1 in 8000.
Video poker is not allowed to do the same. Nor is it extraordinary enough. There is no machine that can purposely handle the 10-A fit to go with the matching JK I mentioned earlier. But, it will happen in a certain amount of time. And since JK, QK and JQ all produce the same 4-Card Royal and three cards are drawn, the 4-Card Royal will be enough to give a rushed player a near miss.
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