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Best of John Grochowski

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New slots equal new betting strategies

2 October 2014

Strategies for playing slot machines have long been built around conventional wisdoms. “To get the maximum return, bet maximum coins.” “Never play progressive slots without betting the max.” “Slots pay more at higher coin denominations.”

But the rise of video slots has broken old conventions, and new conventions require new conventional wisdom. Let’s try a few adaptations:

Old conventional wisdom: To get the maximum payback percentage, slot players should always bet maximum coins.

New conventional wisdom: Check the pay tables. Many video slots are pure multipliers, paying the same percentage regardless of coins wagered.

On most three-reel games, the reason the highest payback percentage comes on max-coin bets was that there is a jump in the top jackpot when the final coin is wagered. Lining up three jackpot symbols on one version of IGT’s Double Diamond Deluxe -- to use a popular game as an example -- returns 800 coins if you bet one coin, 1,600 if you bet two, but jumps to 2,500 for a three-coin bet. To break it down on a per-coin basis, you get 800 for the first coin bet, 800 for the second coin bet, but 900 for the third.

Most video slots don’t have that disproportionate leap in the top jackpot, and therefore yield the same payback percentage regardless of whether you bet one coin per payline or multiple coins per line. Check the pay tables before you play. If all payoffs are proportional to coins wagered, single coin per line wagers will do to get what the game has to offer.


Old wisdom: If you don’t want to bet the max, don’t play progressives.

New wisdom: If you play progressives, bet enough to be eligible for the jackpots.

Three-reel slots with a single progressive jackpot take the disproportionate jump scenario to the extreme. With fewer coins wagered, you’ll get a fixed take for three jackpot symbols. Bet the max, and you get a progressive pot that builds and builds, adding a portion if wagers to the meter until someone finally wins.

The result is a game that puts a larger percentage of its overall payback into top jackpot than non-progressive games do.

It remains true on video slots, including those with multi-tiered progressives, that returns are lower if you don’t bet enough to make yourself eligible for the progressive jackpot. But it usually doesn’t take a max-coin bet to be eligible. Some require an extra bet to be jackpot-eligible, but if you make the jackpot bet, the rest of your bet size doesn’t matter.

Read the machine glass and the help menu. If you’re going to play a progressive machine, you want to bet enough to be eligible for any jackpot rounds.

Old wisdom: Read the machine glass before you play.

New wisdom: Read the help menu before you play.

Smart slot players always have read the machine glass before betting. Are there symbols that need to be unlocked with higher bets? Are there paylines to be activated with each coin wagered?

That’s all still true today, and there are additional considerations with more game options. Are the symbols that trigger bonus rounds scatter pays, or do they have to land on an active payline to take you to the big event? Does it take an extra bet to be eligible for game features? If you wait too long between bets, will you become ineligible for a community bonus event?

The info you need is on the help menu. Take a glance before you play, and eliminate the potential for costly surprises.


Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski