As a former video slot machine and bonus round designer, I have lifetime Non-Disclosure Agreements with three of the largest slot machine manufacturers in the world. Though none of the revelations I disclose here will be of a proprietary nature, or a violation of such agreements, some will be little-known things that people in the industry would prefer I not seeing shared with the general public.

First and foremost, be aware that the technology of electronic digital slot machines has grown in quantum leaps from what was the state-of-the-art as recently as three years ago. That means most 'How-To-Win' books are obsolete by the time you buy them.

Ditto the various pamphlets available to buy on line. Even though some of these may be close to current trends, guess what? Executives in the slot industry, as well as most astute casino slot managers, read such material as quickly as it comes out. If somebody has found a loophole or suggests a viable way of giving slot players an advantage, you can bet your last quarter that the situation will be corrected, pronto.

The evolution and development of slot machines from basic mechanical, single-pay-line bars, bells, chimes, and plumbs devices, to brightly lit electronic enhanced machines, and finally to the video reel screen, multi-line games with animated bonus rounds, is an exploding state-of-the-art process that sets the bar higher and reaches new heights that were unimaginable only a short time ago.

Without question, you are reading this because you want to WIN at the slot machines. Period. Well, here's some earth-shattering news: they don't build those multi-million dollar hotels and casinos because Average Joe's are beating the slots all the time.

But, perhaps the things I know and pass along in this article will help level the playing field a bit. If you are serious about your slot playing, and always looking for something to give you an edge then read on.

Why? Because despite all the advances in computer chips, technology and slot platforms, the final determination of how much better you'll play will come down to where the slot manager places 'loose' machines on the casino floor, and how long they stay in that spot (or have their payout chip changed).

Most slot players have heard that highly visible machines are traditionally "loose" and pay off more frequently than machines tucked deep in the casino. All those hints in various "How To Win" books and in pamphlets about which machines are most likely to hit larger payouts more often are basically true.

If you've heard of random generators, let me tell you. they absolutely do exist. But that does not mean all machines are subject to plain old "random" luck. Machines can be set to pass or accept winning combinations according to the house (casino) policy.

But that's not the whole story by a long shot. You can't just read this article and others and think you now know it all. Far from it. There is a lot more to know to put the basic knowledge you learned into practical use.

You'll have to exhibit some discipline about where to play, how to evaluate a particular machine (or a casino or other location) and more about when to quit playing than the person playing next to you knows.

If you do, you may be the player with the cat-that-ate-the-canary grin at the end of the day knowing you stayed the course, followed the strategy, and now have money, which was previously in the casino till, in your pocket.

Most slot gamblers don't take the time to learn what they are up against or try to seriously make an effort to level the playing field, but instead go full steam ahead gambling their hearts out

If you are a serious and frequent slot player you may find the information I am sharing with you here to be too restrictive and encroaching on the "fun" you get out of playing. Does that include loosing too?

You may find it very difficult, if not down right impossible, to spend the time scouting various casinos, scoping slot machines in different areas, and, most of all pushing the CASH OUT button and walking away, with your winnings when you believe you are on a hot streak. Instead stay there and keep playing. That's what the casinos want you to do, and what most players do. And they give back their winnings, and then some.

So how can you beat the slots? Correction, very few people ever beat the slots unless they happen to be playing a "Progressive" machine, at maximum bet, and happen to be doing it when the random generator picks puts the winning symbols together right in front of your face.

In early January this year (2007) a 66-year old man playing a Progressive machine at the Pahrump Nugget Casino in Las Vegas hit for more than $18-million on Penny Megabucks. That's a penny machine created by International Game Technology (IGT) the largest slot manufacturer in the world.

He did it without a system, without scouting the casino, without advice from me, or anything but just being in the right place at the right time, and playing the machine to its maximum bet. It's called luck.

The bad news is that perhaps nine out of ten people will only follow some of the advice in this article, or do it half heartedly, before falling prey to myriad bells and whistles, flashing lights and the aura of the casino floor. For some the total casino environment is really a big part of the fun, while practical advice about leveling the playing field seems to be an antiseptic approach that substitutes logic for 'fun'.

Human nature being what it is, people often set goals but somewhere along the line they cease to follow the advice and revert back to doing things as they had in the past. It happens all the time.

But if you are that one-in-ten determined to win and with the intestinal fortitude (guts) to religiously follow your convictions and practice what you'll learn in this article, then you will have a better chance of beating the slots than the next person.

The following information is really important to know since it gives you a knowledge of the strategy, thinking, business decisions, and gigantic odds players are up against, even with the various states gaming control commissions mandated 80-90+ payback return regulations.

The industry that manufactures slot machines is a very small industry, compared to other industries doing billions of dollars annually.

When you eliminate the mechanics, the office people, sales people, and all others not directly involved with the programming and design of slot machines, the total number of people "in the know" about the whys and wherefores of payouts to players is indeed a small group.

And it's these facts, the thinking and strategy, behind why some slot machines return as much as 98% of money put in while others payback slightly more than 80%. Which ones do you want to play? Do you know how to identify them?

The first thing 'successful' players do upon entering a casino's slot area is make an effort to identify low-hit frequency machines. Do this by pulling up the pay table and reading its payouts. These machines are set to have the low-paying combinations hit less frequently, and using that lack of small hits to provide some extra higher-paying hits because game designers know they have to compensate for higher hits by taking away many of the lower-paying hits.

That means the chances of getting a good hit on any individual spin is lower than on other machines in the casino. You should avoid this kind of machine. Sometimes the way to do this is to observe other players in an area and count the number of spins between sizeable hits. The greater the number of spins, the lower the payouts

Also worth remembering: machines with wild multiplying symbols usually have lower hit frequencies. The higher the multiple, the lower the frequency.

Besides the above, here's some other things I always look for:

First of all, I rarely play the Progressive machines with the million dollar jackpots because I know those banks of machines have no loose machines. It's the constantly increasing jackpot that keeps players there, not the frequent good hits. Besides, playing anything but a penny Progressive machine would wipe out my gambling budget in no time.

Machines that are in high visibility areas, such as those round, kiosk-like groupings, scattered around the floor. One or more of these are usually looser than the rest. You'll never find two loose machines next to each other.

Be advised that all such round groupings are not equal. Those with the most passing traffic tend to pay better than those deep into the casino.

Other areas where loose machines have traditionally been found are near tile floor high traffic area aisles. I'm talking about the aisles that people move through en route to elevators, restaurants or shops. The machines fronting on such aisles are often looser than those even one row deeper. The carpeted casino floor aisles are said by many to be not as loose, but I haven't found that to be the case.

For years it was thought you should avoid machines that back right up to table games because the casinos don't want hoping and hollering slot winners distracting big bucks table players. In some casinos that is still true, but it's not written in stone anymore since slots bring in more revenue to casinos than table games. Best advice if you want to play a machine in such an area. Scout and observe. If it is loose it won't take very long to discover that.

So if you take everything written here to heart, and read the other slot machine advice you can find for free online, you have a better chance of leveling the playing field.

Of course, the casino slot managers know these same things. That's why some casinos throw a monkey wrench in your best laid plans and move machines around much more frequently than was the case as recently as three years ago. And, of course, thy can replace computer chips almost instantly to change a machine returning 94+% to one paying 80%. And they do.

This means if you discover a loose machine on your next trip, the chances are that if you come back to play it a week later things will be different.

One thing I do is always have a machine limit or budget. Even if a machine is loose and giving me a good return I have disciplined myself to move on once I've expired the budget. When this works I usually walk away either even, slightly ahead, or nicely ahead.

Then I locate another machine to play and start the budget all over again. In casinos I'm familiar with there are certain machine themes I prefer playing more than others (it's just personal taste) and I move around to them, each with a machine budget.

A good way to experiment doing this is do a test with penny machines using a $5 limit per machine. Play nine lines, five cents per line so your total bet is .45. this will give you eleven spins to find out if the machine is loose or if you should move on.

The secret to making that work is simple: If the machine is loose, you should have more than one hit that bring your winnings back to the original $5 or a few bucks above. If during your 11 spins you hit a good bonus round and push your earnings well beyond the original $5 then either immediately take the money and move on, or set another machine limit (usually back to a nice round number). Chances are you will expire this limit without seeing another sizeable hit.

Depending upon your total casino gambling budget per trip, once you've experimented with the penny machines you can move up to nickels or quarters. Naturally the same 9-line, 5-coins per line routine with nickels will cost you $24.75 per machine, and with quarters the expenditure is $123.75.

But there is always that random generator. And if you happen to be playing a Progressive machine for the maximum amount when the angels decide to smile at you, then you can forget everything you've ever read and laugh all the way to the bank.