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Insider Answers Questions about Video Slots

12 July 2006

The entertainment value that gamblers derive from playing video slots makes this genre of games extremely popular. The fact you can invest dollars per spin on penny and nickel games also makes them an expensive betting proposition.

Short of having access to proprietary information about the machines, the most valuable facts gamblers can arm themselves with pertains to the mechanics of play and the truth about how the games really work.

In a quest to seek out the truth and dispel some misconceptions, The Thrifty Gambler contacted Rob Bone, vice president of marketing for WMS Gaming, maker of some of the world's most popular slot machines:

The Thrifty Gambler: I know players max out their opportunity to win by playing max lines, but do they increase their chances of winning by playing max coins per line, or are players merely going to win more (based on the number of coins played per line) from a configuration they would have gotten anyway?

Rob Bone: Increasing the bet per line only increases the payout, not the chance. Increasing the number of lines played directly increases the hit frequency of the game and the opportunities to achieve a paying combination. Winning more can be achieved in two ways based on whether players want to hit winning combinations more often or if they are strictly looking for larger amounts per win or more credits. Covering all pay lines increases the player's chances of triggering the game's bonus rounds, which can make up a large part of the player's experience.

TG: Say a player is willing to invest 20 coins per line. On a 20-line machine what are the ramifications of taking that investment and betting 20 lines, one coin per line, versus betting 10 lines, two coins per line or five lines, four coins per line?

RB: The expected return to the player is the same in any of these situations. It is completely dependent on how players prefer to achieve their awards, frequent nominal pays versus less frequent larger pays.

TG: Is the complete grid configuration a player receives on a spin a pre-determined outcome the same as pay line combinations on traditional reel spinners? If you hit the "stop" button do you receive the same configuration you would have gotten had you allowed the virtual reel spinning action to play out?

RB: The outcome of each pay/spin is determined when the player makes their bet.

TG: Does the frequency of getting into bonus rounds vary from game to game?

RB: Absolutely.

TG: When a player gets into a bonus round, is the entire outcome of the bonus round a pre-determined event?

RB: At WMS, our bonus rounds are not pre-determined, but rather largely based on the selections made by the players themselves. We want the players to have some control over how their bonus rounds are experienced and ultimately how they are paid. For example, in "Jackpot Party" the same values are available every bonus, but the locations of those values are shuffled at the beginning of each bonus. In this way, which "present" players select directly corresponds to the prize they are awarded.

TG: Using the bonus round in the WMS game theme "Pegasus" as an example, if the player's selections result in an award of five free spins instead of 15, does the player just see the first five spins and not the remaining 10? Had the player not picked a "wild" tile, would the frequency of "wild" symbols appearing during the bonus round spins be the same?

RB: The bonus round outcomes are not pre-determined. The actual number of free spins awarded to the player is dependent on their selection and is completely independent of other bonus round elements including the multiplier awarded or the "wild" symbol awarded.

TG: Using the bonus round of the WMS game theme "Ring Quest" as an example, are the fortunes of getting to the top level based strictly on the touch screen choices the player makes during the bonus round?

RB: Yes. The values are determined based on the player's bet at the beginning of the bonus, but the actual outcomes/amounts are completely dependent on what the player selects, similar to the Jackpot Party example.

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