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Gambling with Slots--Luck or Skill?

Updated on September 29, 2015
Granny and her slot machine.
Granny and her slot machine. | Source

I Was a Skeptic of Granny

At first I was skeptical of Granny’s luck. Alice told me about Granny’s special book of winnings in which she documents all those great casino moments of the past 70 years of her life. Alice maintains that Granny never loses. At worst she breaks even. She wins on a regular basis anywhere from 500 to a couple thousand dollars.

I so wanted to believe Alice. I hoped that she wasn’t unconsciously fabricating the story to make Granny into a legend. Alice loves her Granny dearly and puts her on a pedestal. The truth is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to win regularly at slot machines. This is especially true if you play the penny slots, like Granny often does.

Everyone encouraged me to take a trip to the casino with Granny and Grandpa to see for myself. I agreed to go even though I hate casinos. When I lived in Philly I used to walk through the casinos in Atlantic City. I viewed them as sleazy and unhealthy. Too much smoke and too many down-and-out people getting fleeced by rich casino owners.

But Granny was about to change all that.

I Bet You Didn't Know This About Gambling

Expert studies show that retirees 65 years old and above who gamble have less health issues and complications such as depression, alcoholism and bankruptcy as they find gambling to be therapeutic; gambling exercises their mind and it helps them to think on their feet and to stay alert.

At this point, the studies haven't been conclusive. Although judging from Granny and Grandpa and a few other seniors I know, those studies hit the mark. Please note: I am not advocating gambling. Like many things, it can be addictive. It is not advisable to gamble if you can't be in control of how much money you gamble and if it interferes with your daily functioning. Also, it is not wise to gamble if you have a history of addictive behaviors.


Me and Granny at the slots
Me and Granny at the slots

Lucky or Not Poll

Do You Think that Winning the Slots is All Luck?

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The Master at Work

I held Granny’s arm as we slowly made our way into Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. We eased through the large gaming rooms into a smaller smoke free room. Once there, I let go of her arm and stepped back and watched Granny go to work. Like an experienced surgeon, she surveyed the room before she operated. She looked at every slot machine for the right one. She based her decision on intuition and many years of experience.

Things to Do to Increase Your Chances at Winning

  • Look for slot machines that have a high payout--that is, at least 96% payout. Ask one of the attendants or get the name of the machine and do research on it over the internet.
  • Play the higher demonination slot machines. There is a better chance of winning big. For example, choose the dollar slots instead of the penny slots.
  • Slots that pay out more are called loose slots. These can be found in high traffic areas so they give the impression of people winning. Look for these slot machines.
  • Veteren gamblers suggest doing max bet for each roll. This guarantee max payout for any hits that you make. Please note: you can also lose a lot more and faster by placing max bets.
  • Regarding the slot that you choose: either study how it works before hand or get an attendant to explain how the machine works before you give it your money. Take your time before selecting the slot machine--your paycheck may depend on it.


Could Winning Be Supernatural or Paranormal?

Granny chose a machine that had no name. Other machines like Tarzan or Mayan seemed more alluring, but what do I know. Alice planted a soft pillow under granny’s butt before sitting down. She got comfortable real fast.

Granny started off playing the max on the whole board. She said that the slot machine was loose and ready to go. “Light my fire, amigo!” With her thin, bony fingers she gently touched the face of the machine and continued her conversation with the unnamed one-armed bandit.

When I say it was magic I was not overstating. “Light my fire, baby,” she kept repeating as her mantra. She was priming the pump and the magical relationship between her and the slot machine was on.

I was witnessing something that I never witnessed before. It was beyond luck and skill. I was witnessing something paranormal.

Soon Granny and the machine became good friends, rolling up some big numbers. She printed out her first voucher for $400. She handed it to Grandpa and he slowly made his way to the money machine that exchanges slot vouchers for cash. He was a busy man that evening, making several trips to the cash machine, stuffing his pockets with casino cash--something he's done many times before.

Granny's machine rolling up in winnings.
Granny's machine rolling up in winnings.

Playing a Slot with Granny

I sat close to granny so her good vibes could invade my system via osmosis. I began to acknowledge the machine in front of me, like Granny had done. I wanted to connect with the machine exactly the way she did. I said to myself, you are going to win, I know you will. I was starting to call the machine, “Buddy,” as in my friend. I touched the face of the slot machine in a gentle and respectful way. I began to copy Granny’s gaming style—betting the max and clicking on the whole board. Above all, I was starting to believe with my entire being that I would win.

I had only deposited twenty dollars, but slowly but surely that twenty dollars blossomed into 240 big ones. At first I was staying even or a little above. Soon I hit a triple score that was also doubled with a line of 7’s and the money began to rack up. I didn’t know how to react. I never won before. I didn’t want to celebrate because I thought it would jinx me. So I quietly printed out the voucher and handed it to Alice who cashed it for me. I bet twenty more dollars but wasn’t feeling so lucky, like something had changed, so I stopped. I wanted to come out ahead and for the first time in my life, a winner at gambling!

That night Granny won a total of 1500 dollars in a little over 3 hours of gaming at the Chumash Casino. I won a total of 200 dollars. I left the casino as a die-hard fan of Granny. And what’s more, I started to feel that maybe I’m lucky after all.

Granny and Grandpa having a nice dinner using their gaming earnings.
Granny and Grandpa having a nice dinner using their gaming earnings.

Is it Luck or Skill?

My experience with Granny was awesome. She made a believer out of me that there are some people who can win at playing the slot machines. Now, to answer the question: Do I think it is luck or skill? I think it is both plus having the right amount of supernatural power. There was something about Granny connecting to her slot machine that I can not totally comprehend or explain. It's some kind of supernatural connection. It has to be. The woman wins all the time.

As for me, I went once more to the casino and played the same machine that I played when I won over $200. This time I lost $60. I haven't gone back since. I don't have what it takes to win at the slot machines. But Granny certainly does. I'm a firm believer.

Tell me what your exprerience is at the casino. Do you win a lot? Is it mentally stimulating or exciting for you like it is for Granny? I would like to know.


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    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank you, Dream On. Granny has hung up her winning casino shoes. She is now approaching 100 and enjoys her peaceful days in a very comfortable nursing home with her husband who is now over 100. The casinos don’t miss her, I could tell you that.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      2 years ago

      Then again I wonder if I could hang out with Granny for a day to make me a true believer. I believe good attitudes and great thoughts create more of the same. I also think everyone is born with special gifts. One of Granny's gifts may be the talent to win at slots. They have people who talk to animals. They have people who do incredible math equations. Someone with the gift of winning at games of luck doesn't seem that out of the ordinary. I am glad you shared this wonderful, uplifting story. I think you should go out with Granny again to see how your luck is now. Have a fantastic day.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Hanging out at the pool may be less expensive than playing slots for me as well. Thanks, Dream On.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      2 years ago

      I have been at the casinos and some people have some incredible luck or know something I don't. These people come often and win a lot more than me. I loved your hub and your unique flair for fun and excitement. Well I say good luck to granny and anyone else that can leave a winner. Tips that you gave make sense. Timing is everything. If I stay at a hotel with a casino I make sure I spend more time at the pool to get good health benefits out of exercise and a little luck on the slots wouldn't be so bad either. (lol) Either way I come out healthier than when I started. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Everyone’s trying to find out Granny’s secret. If I knew, I'd be at the casino every day. Thanks, Kari.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      I like playing the slots if I happen to be in a casino, which is rarely, lol. I always play a set amount and stop when it is gone. One time at a conference in Las Vegas, I had $20 last me the week. I usually play the penny slots or if I'm going big the nickle slots, lol. I find it very entertaining, even if I don't go for big wins. Maybe I need to change my style up a bit, get more like Granny!

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      3 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Hmm, she very much respects the soul of the machine. She has a feel for it and a self control that keeps her from acting impulsive. Thanks for your comment.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 

      3 years ago from Illinois

      The first time I played a slot machine on my 22nd birthday, I put in 20 and came out with 100. Another time I played a slot at a bar but I was too drunk and lost 20. Play sober. Choose a small, not flashy machine. Expect to lose what you put in. Maybe Granny's secret is experience and skill, maybe she just respects the soul of the machine. Who knows really?

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      4 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Brenda, I like your spiritual perspective. You just might be right. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I always believe God is with me and sometimes i win alot,but stick it back in. I dont blame God because he has been so good to me,and i may not win next time and i think to myself, why would he let you keep winning you just throw it back in. I dont think it is luck unless he is giving it to you and i always thank him and give him the Glory. Maybe that is Granny,s secret. I loved her story. God Bless Her

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Granny is a real treasure! Just wish I had her vibes!

      Thanks Mark for such a great read!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh my gosh! This is the best, I wish you could have seen her in Vegas playing 3 machines at a time and they were dollar machines! Hardly played the quarter machines got lot of pictures taken, and she has them.


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