Slot Machine FAQ – Part 3 of 4
This set of slot machine questions discusses basic terms like “bankroll,” “slot candle” and “networked slots.” We also discuss why larger coin denominations mean better odds for players, while providing a general guideline for how much you should tip the nearby casino personnel in slots row.
The slots questions today include information for trivia buffs on the biggest prize amounts in the history of casino gambling. We also wanted to discuss the basics of RNGs. In what’s going to be a recurring theme, we’ll discuss the payback percentage and the strategy behind playing the max coins on a machine.
This last set of questions covers everything from the early days of Bally slots to the latest news on progressive jackpots. If you’re wanting to learn about the latest development in online gaming, server-based slots, we’ll be discussing that technology in the near future.
Slot Machine Questions Answered
A bankroll is the amount of money you’re willing to gamble and lose when playing at the casino. This should be significantly less than your income or your bank account balance. Don’t dip into the money for monthly bills like car payments, house payments, insurance, utilities or groceries. A slot machine bankroll should come from your disposable income, and it should not represent the full amount of your disposable income. A bankroll should be the amount you can comfortably afford to lose, while wagering enough to make the game interesting. Once you start playing, don’t wager more than 5% of your bankroll on any spin, hand or roll of the dice.
Playing at high-limit slot machines is better only if you can afford to lose what you wager. If so, then the payout percentages are higher at the top-end denominations. Since casinos have a house edge, they want to encourage gamblers to wager as much as possible. They provide incentives for high rollers and disincentives for low rollers. So if you see two machines which are identical in every way but they have two different maximum denominations, you can expect to get better odds on the one with the highest max bet.
Slots gamblers want to find a machine with reel symbols where the best symbols are almost lined up but they aren’t. The patterns they’re looking for are the “v” shape, the “^” shape, the “X”, or some type of diagonal pattern. All these losing reel alignments tell the gambler that the reel symbols are starting to line up, so you should be playing on that machine.
The zig zag method doesn’t work, though. All slot machines are now electronic, so they use a random number generator to determine a random outcome. The zig zag method was used by gamblers on mechanical slot machines, not the current ones. Finding those patterns gives you no advantage whatsoever in the current industry.
The slot candle is the light located on the top of the machine. The slot candle usually gives coin denominations. Red is a nickel machine and yellow is a quarter machine, while blue is a dollar machine. Make sure this is the case in your particular casino before you simply assume it.
The proper amount is 0.5% to 1% of your winnings on a jackpot. If you win a thousand dollars, a proper tip would be $5 or $10. Some players prefer to offer a higher gratuity, but the amount really depends on what service they performed and how quickly they performed it. Some attendants pay out larger amounts with hundred dollar bills, except for the last $100, which is paid with $20 bills. In these cases, they are hoping you tip them one of the $20 bills. If that’s too much for your tastes, keep $5 and $10 on your person for these occasions.
If enough machines are open that a player can play two machines, nothing says they can’t do it. You might find a sign asking players to avoid playing two machines when the casino is busy. Of course, you might wonder why players feel the need to play two machines at once since the odds are not in their favor. Playing two slot machines at once only means you’re going to run out of money twice as fast, if the probabilities play out the way they should.
Play for entertainment and stay within your bankroll. Slot machines are the most popular form of gambling in the casino. In fact, slots account for about 70% of the revenues of land-based casinos. Slot machine players need to understand that insiders don’t try to get rich off slots, because the odds are heavily in the favor of casinos. Play for fun and play within your means. Your definition of “bankroll” should be an amount you can comfortably lose.
Networked slots are for progressive slot machines. Imagine a large network of slot machines connected to each other like computers on the internet are. Each time someone spins and doesn’t hit the progressive anywhere on this network, the jackpot increases. Networked slots therefore all feed into a progressive jackpot, increasing the size of the prize much faster than they would if it was just one machine per jackpot.
The record remains $39,700,000 won by a software engineer at the Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas back in 2003. Megabucks is the game most associated with huge progressive jackpots. At one time, the Megabucks slot machine had the top nine jackpots of all time, while Money Vault Millionaires held the 10th spot. If you want to make the top 10, it’s probably best to put your money in Megabucks slot machines.
If you play a progressive slot machine, always pay max coins. If you play machines with multiple paylines, most of the time you should play the max coin amount. If you play slots where the 5-coin payout is proportionately higher, then you should pay out max coins. In all of these situations, the maximum coin amount triggers the top prize. Some flat-top machines don’t increase the top jackpot, so these wouldn’t require max coins. Since most electronic slots these days have multiple coin options, if you don’t like making the max bet, drop down to a lower coin denomination.
The payback percentage is much better on slot machines (85% to 95%) than they are on lotteries (about 60%). Progressive slots have a lotto-sized jackpot, so it’s natural to equate the two games. If you play the right machine, you can win hundreds of thousands–maybe millions–of dollars playing progressive slots. The state lottery and multi-state lotto games offer hundreds of thousands, millions, ten of millions, and even hundreds of millions of dollars. These last two jackpot sizes explain a lot. Top lotteries pay out much more than top progressive jackpots. The record amount for lotteries is over $300,000,000, while the record amount for slots is about $10,000,000 or so. The bigger the jackpot in gambling, the lower the payout percentage or higher the house edge is. Of course, state governments set the house edge on lottery gaming. It’s at a level so bad that any casino offering those odds would be shut down and its executives possibly sent to jail.
First, this isn’t the same as free-play online casino promotions. This is money won through a slots club promotion, usually. In this case, it depends on what machines you’re allowed to play. If you must play on a promotional machine, the payouts are set low enough you might only win 10% or 20% of the price amount. If the casino gives you access to any machine on the floor, head to the video poker machines, where the payout for full pay is over 99% (at which point the value of a $100 bonus would be $99+). If you must remain on slots row, find a flat-top machine with a lower jackpot prize and wish for luck. This jackpot is the one you’re most likely to hit, while it’s also likely to pay out the highest percentage–in many cases, around 95%.
None of them offer good advice, if they tell you their system can teach you how to beat the casinos at slots. Any so-called expert who claims he or she has a system to beat casinos is making an absurd claim. These people shouldn’t be trusted. In 99% of the cases, these people know better and are lying to try to sell you something. Don’t believe 100% money-back guaranteed offers, because these are easy to offer and hard to collect. Con men can claim you didn’t follow their system 100%, so you didn’t follow your part of the bargain. Claims are easy to make. Testimonials can be faked. Avoid all this stuff.
Bally, originally known for its “Ballyhoo” pinball machines, started making slot machines as early as the late 1930s in Chicago, Illinois.
This concept is no different than the payback percentage in roulette, for instance. If you have 38 numbers in American roulette, then the odds of any one number hitting are 37:1 or 1-in-38. This determines the payback percentage, though the results are still random. A slot machine works the same way. It’s programmed for certain combinations to appear a certain number of times, which determines probability. Once this is done, the game remains random but is played with certain odds. In roulette or slot machines or any other casino game, the short-term results may deviate from the expectation. Over a long term (like a billion spins), the payback percentage and odds are going to look similar.
Yes. Certain symbols have less chance of turning up than others, but how this is done is different than classic mechanical slots. On a 5-reel machine, the random number generator selects a different number for each reel. These five numbers are matched against symbols. Some symbols are going to correspond to more numbers. When this is done for all five reels, you get the symbol alignment.
No, those are a waste of money. If you’re looking for the best chance to beat the casino, slot machines aren’t your game. No strategy exists in slots. You make a bet and hit a button, so no betting system is going to improve your odds.
Online players should familiarize themselves with cloud-based slot machines, because it’s only going to become a bigger part of the experience as time goes by. Meanwhile, we hope we can disabuse players of some of their more superstitious notions about current and past slot machines.