I know of at least one site where you really can get something for nothing. They offer a free sweepstakes to players who win a certain pre-defined minimum number of credits on their free slot machine games. Since these credits are the virtual equivalent of Monopoly money, if you have a small chance of winning anything at all, your expected value is essentially infinite.
What is expected value? It’s the average of the results of a tremendous number of repetitions of a bet. It’s the amount you can expect to win or lose on each bet given an almost infinite number of bets. Professional gamblers (including casinos) use expected value (EV) as a means of determining the attractiveness of a bet. It’s a simple enough calculation, too.
Here’s how you calculate it. You take the odds of winning and multiply that by the amount you stand to win. Then you take the odds of losing and multiply that by the amount you stand to lose. So if you’re flipping a coin, and you win $1 every time you call it correctly, and you lose every time you call it incorrectly, your expected value is $0. You’ll win and lose in equal amounts over a large enough number of repetitions.
With a free slot machine game that offers any kind of chance of winning a prize, you have no loss to factor in. Over an infinite number of repetitions, your winnings would theoretically be infinite, while your losses would be 0.
Of course, in practical terms, you’d never be able to get anything close to an infinite number of repetitions. Nor would you want to. Even the most obsessive of slot zombies will get bored with playing for Monopoly money eventually, even if they stand the chance of winning $50 or $100 every once in a blue moon.
Still, it’s nice to know that an activity as seemingly meaningless and pointless as playing free slots can have a tangible reward.
Most online casinos make the bulk of their money from slots players. The oft-quoted percentage of 70% is probably an understatement of how much of an online casino’s profits come from the one-armed bandits. But if you’re new to the world of Internet casinos, how do you know whether or not you’ll enjoy playing the games at a given website?
The casinos make it easy for you. They offer free versions of their games that you can play in order to try out the software. Sometimes these require a download, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. You can now try it before you buy it with free casino games that work on almost any device—not just your desktop computer, but also your tablet or your cell phone.