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Best of John Grochowski

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One coin or maximum coin?

2 June 2016

For many years, casinos, marketing departments and gambling analysts were agreed that to get the highest payback percentage, slot players should bet max coins. Trump Casinos even has a long-running character named “Max Coins” to drive home the point.

Betting the max has been de-emphasized in recent years because of the rise of video slots. Today, covering all the paylines is a point of emphasis, and many newer video slots are “forced bet” machines in which playing fewer lines is not an option. On a 40-line penny game, you might find buttons for bets of 40 cents, 80 cents, $1.20, $1.60 and $2, with no way to play just one line, a penny at a time.

Even though there’s not as much max-bet chatter as there once was, I receive e-mail from readers asking if betting the max is still to their advantage.

In most cases, the answer is no. On most video slots, you’re just as well off betting one coin per line as betting the max.

To see the reason, let’s look at why max bets were recommended in the first place.
Larger bets do not make winning combinations occur more often. The random number generator works with the same number set no matter how many coins you bet, and the proportion of reel combinations you see will remain the same regardless of your bet size.

However, most slots with three mechanical reels have incentives to bet the max in the form of disproportionate top jackpots. On a hypothetical three-reel game with a three-coin maximum wager, you might find a top jackpot of 1,000 coins for a one-coin wager and have that doubled to 2,000 coins if you bet two coins instead.

However, if you bet the three-coin max, the jackpot on our hypothetical game doesn’t jump just another 1,000-coin increment to 3,000. It leaps to 5,000.

Instead of a jackpot being worth 1,000 credits per coin wagered, the max-coins bettor gets 1,666.7 credits per coin wagered. That higher per-coin payoff means the payback percentage is higher when you bet max coins.

Most video slots aren’t like that. Touch the screen to call up the pay table, and you’ll see the payoffs are proportionate throughout. If the top jackpot is 1,000 credits for a one-coin wager, it’ll be 2,000 for two, 3,000 for three and so on.

With no disproportionate jump, your average return per coin is the same at any bet size. The payback percentage remains the same, and betting the max will not increase the payback percentage.

That does not mean video slots have no incentives to make larger bets. If you play progressive machines, it’s important to make sure you’re eligible for the progressive jackpots. On some games, that requires a separate bet. The base game carries the same payback percentage regardless of how many coins you wager, but you’re not eligible for the main attraction if you don’t make the extra bet.

On other progressives, even minimum bettors are eligible for the top jackpot. But for that to happen, the jackpot needs to be on a mystery format where the winner is the player whose wager takes the jackpot to a randomly generated amount. On mystery formats for either progressives or bonus events, players who bet more get extra chances for each bet to be the one that triggers the payback or bonus.

But progressives and mystery payouts aside, basic pay tables on video slots usually do not have the disproportionate jackpot jumps you find on mechanical-reel games. Getting the maximum payback percentage does not necessarily require a maximum bet.

Look for John Grochowski 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