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Best of John Grochowski

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Players who bet more have a better chance of winning a mystery jackpot

19 June 2012

Readers send systems to me fairly often. Blackjack systems, craps systems, roulette systems -- you name it. Players like looking for that magic combination that somehow will defy the math and make them winner.

Not many are slot systems. That's natural enough, since slot players don't have the same opportunities to devise betting combinations as some table games offer. Still, a reader named Fred thought he spotted an opportunity.

"It's these mystery progressives," he explained. "On some of them, the machines are linked together and the meters all rise the same amount for all the machines. There's no big jump in the top jackpot for betting the max like there was on the old three-reel games. The jackpot is the same for everyone.

"It's the 'same for everyone' part that got me thinking. On some of these games, it doesn't matter how much you bet. You can win the same jackpot as anyone else on the games, even if they're betting more."

And that led Fred to his how-to-get-an-edge idea.

"So why should you bet more?" he asked. "Why wouldn't you just bet one penny at a time and wait for your turn at the jackpot? If the jackpots are really random, don't I have just as good a chance betting one penny at a time as someone betting 500? Doesn't that make the payback higher the less you bet?"

I told Fred that neither slot manufacturers nor casino operators were about to let a game on the floor that would provide a reward for betting less. The jackpots are awarded randomly, but that doesn't mean every player has an equal chance of winning.

The key is in the mystery programming. There are several ways to go about it, including launching the jackpot event when a jackpot size reaches a certain amount, or total coin wagered reaches a certain amount. Let's say a game is configured so that a jackpot event is launched when total wagering on the bank of machines reaches a number somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 coins.

A random number generator would select an amount between the parameters. If it selected $383.17, for example, the player whose wager took the total to $383.17 would trigger the jackpot event. If the games have no minimum bet or side bet required to be eligible for the jackpot event, then every active player would have a chance to go to the jackpot round. But those who are betting the most money would have the most chances.

If you're betting one penny, you have that one chance per spin to take the total wagers to that magic number. If I'm playing with you, betting one coin per line on 25 paylines, then I'd have 25 chances per spin to move the wagering total up to the selected total, while my neighbor betting 20 coins on each of the 25 lines has 500 chances.

It's the same deal if the launch point is a jackpot amount rather than a wagering total. You might see a sign that says, "Jackpot must hit by $500," or some other amount. A random number generator would select an exact amount of $500 or less, and the player whose bet took the jackpot up to that level would get the mystery award. Players who bet more credits have more chances to trip the trigger.

So no, I told Fred, betting one coin at a time was no way to increase his payback percentage. The results are random, but that doesn't mean the one-coin bettor and the 500-coin bettor have equal chances of solving the jackpot mystery.

MYSTERY HISTORY: Slots with mystery jackpots have been with us since the late 1990s, although the multi-tiered progressive format that players know and love today didn't come about until the early 2000s with the introduction of Aristocrat's Hyperlink games such as Cash Express.

One early mystery game was Mikohn Gaming's Money Time, a reel-spinning game in in the days just before video slots made their big impact. Money Time had a run of popularity after its 1997 debut at New York-New York in Las Vegas. A mystery amount would build until a randomly selected time. Flashing lights and sound effects would signal the arrival of "Money Time," a period in which all active players at the bank of machines would receive random awards until the full jackpot amount had been given out.

That players liked the idea of building their bankrolls even when there was no winning combination on the reels is evident by what has followed. Mikohn no longer makes slot machines, but all the major competitors in the slot machine industry today use mystery jackpots as part of their tools to attract players.

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