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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Bad Bonus Round Is Like Coal in Your Stocking

21 April 2010

There is no denying that the primary appeal of today's video and multi-line reel slots is the anticipation of getting into a bonus round.

For a slot player, what can be better? You can sit back without wagering a thing and watch the reels spin in the hope your credits will pile up.

Make it a touch screen interactive bonus round and things get even more exciting. All you have to do is make the right decisions and the number of credits you win is in your hands.

But what happens when a bonus round goes bad?

Ask a reader of this column, Daniel D., who sent in the following e-mail:

I went to the Blue Chip and played 'The Wizard of Oz' themed slot. It was a five-cent machine. I was betting nine lines on each spin. When I hit the bonus for eight free spins, on the first spin I won eight additional free spins. When all 16 spins were completed I had won 10 credits (fifty cents). What a gamble.

All I can say Dan is what happened to you has happened to all of us at one time or another.

You wait for that magic moment of bonus symbols accompanied by electronic celebratory tones to line up and the end result is a major disappointment.

Getting into bonus rounds is difficult enough. The frequency of entering into one of them is part of the math that is programmed into the particular game you are playing.

The bonus round hit frequency of a game may be once every 15, 20, or 25 spins, for example.

However, during any finite window of time you may be playing a game, this could translate into never getting into a bonus round or getting into one on consecutive spins. That's the nature of probability.

It is important to keep in mind that bonus round payoffs are factored into the long-term theoretical payback of the game itself. If a game is programmed to pay back at the rate of 89 percent of the money it takes in long term, the figure includes the base game as well as the bonus.

Generally speaking, games with a more generous bonus round hit frequency are the ones that can be stingier when it comes to getting a substantial return.

The more difficult it is to get into a bonus round, the less frequently they occur -- but when they do occur, the returns can be higher.

Playing slots and waiting for the bonus round only to get skunked is like waking up on Christmas morning and finding a lump of coal in your stocking,.

The disappointment that can occur, however, only serves as a reminder that you should never fall into the trap of chasing bonus rounds just as you should never chase jackpots.

New slot games are designed to make you do just that. It's the built-in draw of low denomination, multi-line games that keep us playing longer and more often than in the days of traditional three-reel spinning slots.

Let the bonus rounds come when they may. We all know how much fun they are, especially because we have a chance to hit it big without betting more money.

Just remember that, even though we're not betting when the bonus round is in progress, we're still paying for it. The extra coins it may take per spin, or the max coins sometimes required to even be eligible for the bonus, can take a toll on modest bankrolls.

Casinos never really give anything away for free.

CASINO NEWS: Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan, will award two new 2010 Lexus RX 450h Hybrid SUV's and a share of $25,000 in cash this month. Hourly drawings will be held between 1:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern) on April 24, with drawings for the automobiles set to take place at 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Each winner of the car will also receive an additional cash prize of $2,500. W Club members can receive one free entry daily through Saturday, April 24, by visiting the W Club player's club booth. Additional entries may be earned by playing slots or table games with the card.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp