CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Stacked symbols and Megabucks

31 January 2016

QUESTION: Do stacked symbols, especially the really long stacks, make it easier or harder to win on slot machines?

ANSWER: Stacked symbols are a tool used by game designers to create the possibility of large, multiple-payline wins. You might even get stacks of the same symbol on every reel, covering every space on the screen. Then you have five-of-a-kind pays on every payline. Even the lowest-paying symbols on the game give you sizable paybacks when that happens, and when you get stacks of the big payers, that’s bankroll magic.

Naturally, there has to be a tradeoff.

Usually, that’s a decrease in the frequency of small winners. If you land a stack on the second reel that doesn’t match any of the three individual symbols on the first reel, then it doesn’t matter what’s on Reel No. 3. The stack has blocked any potential wins, while having three different symbols instead of a stack would have given you a better chance of matching something on the first reel.

It’s possible to program a game with large stacks that appear so infrequently they don’t interfere very much with small pays. But on such a game, big multistack paybacks would be so rare their attraction would be lost.

With that in mind, it comes down to what you mean by “easier or harder to win.” Payback percentages can be the same on stacked symbol games as on any other slot machines. The stacked symbols can decrease the percentage of spins that are winners, but can increase your chances at a really big payoff.


QUESTION: My husband and I were in Las Vegas, and we saw the Megabucks jackpot was over $12 million. We joked about what we’d do with the money, and put $50 in and took turns. We didn’t win anything, but 10 minutes in fantasyland is fun.

Back home, there’s an Indian casino nearby, and we saw Megabucks there, but it was only a little over $1 million. Did someone hit it after we left Vegas?

ANSWER: Megabucks is a wide-area progressive game, meaning machines in different casinos are linked to the same jackpot. In Nevada, you could be playing in Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Sparks or anywhere else, and a percentage of your Megabucks wager goes toward growing the jackpot.

However, most wide-area progressives link machines only within a single state. Native American casinos are an exception. International Game Technology has a Native American link for tribal casinos throughout the nation, but the games you saw in Las Vegas were on a Nevada-only link.

The same is true on other wide-area progressives such as Wheel of Fortune. The New Jersey link connects only casinos in New Jersey, the Nevada link connects only Nevada casinos, the Louisiana link connects only those in Louisiana, and so on. But the Native American link connects tribal casinos across the U.S.

Because these wide-areas are on different links, their jackpots grow at different rates. IGT’s jackpots website shows only Nevada and Native American links for Megabucks, but for $1 Wheel of Fortune, a quick check as I write this in early January shows jackpots of $1.5 million in Nevada, $592,000 in Native America, $899,000 in Louisiana, $1.3 million in Mississippi, $1.1 million in New Jersey and $733,000 in Michigan.

The name of the game is the same, but as on all IGT Megajackpots game, each link grows its jackpot independently of the others, so what you see on the meter in one state will be different than what you see in the others.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski