The slots at the Cosmopolitan
Dec. 21, 2012 -- I know educated, high-functioning, otherwise reasonable people who will swear slot machines can think. Not only can they think, these people will insist they can outwit you.
Truth is: there is no ghost in the machine. Slot machines run through a random number generator, which continues to sort numbers by the millisecond, even when it's sitting idle. It can't outwit you, but it can run faster: spinning through number cycles in milliseconds, and more quickly than human reaction time. When a player pushes the button, selects a sequence of numbers. It's that simple. It doesn't figure out whether or not you have a rewards card, and it doesn't try to outsmart you.
"Sometimes even people who know slot machines are computerized react to them as if they were alive," says Natasha Dow Schull
, an anthropologist and professor at MIT, who has studied slot machines and their designs for years.
Some players claim to be able to recognize cycles on whether a certain machine will keep you entertained longer than others. In his book, "Surviving Penny Slots,"
Hal Bishop says machines go through winning cycles. He says to play $5 at a time. If the machine starts eating your money too quickly, move onto the next, until you find that doles out small wins and allows you to play longer. While players may believe this, each spin is random and independent from the next. In the long run, you can't win
I went to the Cosmopolitan
simply for the atmosphere. It's a beautiful casino, so I wore a pair of my flashiest shoes.