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How Many Lines to Play on Video Slots9 May 2013
That the games are strategy-free doesn’t mean there’s never any confusion about how to play. One reader who’s new to the games emailed me to ask about conflicting advice he’s received on how much to bet.
Check out the different things he’d read:
However, some games do require bonus triggers to be on an active payline. Precise amounts vary from game to game and manufacturer to manufacturer, but bonus events account for roughly a third of the payback on video slots. You don’t want to play a video slot without being able to take full advantage of the bonus events, so my usual recommendation is to cover all the paylines, even if you’re betting only one coin per line.
Some manufacturers seem to be taking care of the question themselves. Many new video slots have what is known in the industry as “forced bets.” A 40-line game might offer wagers of 40, 80, 120, 160 and 200 credits. The minimum bet is one coin per line, covering all the lines. On such machines, there’s no option to bet one coin, one line.
The second recommendation, to cover all the lines but play multiple coins per line only within your financial comfort zone, is reasonable. Multiple coins per line don’t change the payback percentage. This is essentially the method I use. I start at one coin per line, move up to two per line if I double my credits, and leave the machine if I’m losing.
As for the third recommendation, that really ties into the answer to No. 1. By all means, bet enough to qualify for bonus events. That might just mean covering all the paylines. Some games require a separate bet to activate bonus features --- a 25-line game with a 15-credit feature bet is one common configuration. If you’re going to play such games, make the feature bet. If you don’t want to bet that much, choose a different game.
The same rule applies to progressive jackpots. If you’re going to play a progressive game, make the necessary bets to be eligible for the jackpots. Otherwise, play non-progressive games.
ONE MORE QUESTION: The same reader who asked about wager sizes on video slots asked about choosing a game.
He asked, “If machine A awards a top prize of 1,000 coins for five gold rings, machine B awards 1,200 coins for five treasure chests and machine C awards 1,800 coins for five diamonds, is it as simple as choosing machine C because you would be awarded more top prize money according to the payscales?”
Veteran slot players know it’s not that simple. You can’t tell a high-payer from a coin gobbler by looking at the pay table, or any other visual clues. Programming slot machines involves some of the most complex math in the casino world, including balancing out frequencies of all possible wins, payback amounts, frequency of bonus events and possible wins on bonus events.
Manufacturers offer casino operators several versions of all games, each with a different payback percentage. As a player, all you can do is choose the games you think are the most fun, and move on when you hit your loss limit.
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Best of John Grochowski