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 G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Slot Payback Percentage Based on Max Coin Play

28 May 2008

When you sit down to gamble on a slot machine and play less than maximum coins per spin, you're not taking full advantage of that particular machine's programmed long-term payback percentage.

Those are the findings of renowned slot machine expert, John Robison, author of the book The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots.

"I'm pretty sure that every PAR (Probability and Accounting Report) sheet for every machine I've seen has only one long-term payback percentage on it," Robison said. "And that percentage was calculated based on max coin play."

How does this impact slot players? First of all, it doesn't mean that you should play max coins all the time on every machine you play. That can become a very expensive proposition for a majority of players, given the multi-line, multi-coin capabilities of modern slot technology.

It does mean that you should avoid playing some machines if you are unwilling or unable to invest max coins per spin. Among these are progressives, units with bonus multipliers based on the number of coins you play, and tiered-progressive games in which winning the jackpot is contingent upon max coins.

Just because you play less than full coin doesn't mean you'll get different combinations on the reels, or more importantly, fewer winning ones. It just means that you're not taking full advantage of the machine's long-term payback.

"There's no change in the probabilities of hitting winning combinations," Robison said. "The player will just get paid less for some of them, and the long-term payback for the player will be a little less than if he or she played full coin."

Unfortunately, the payback percentages of individual machines are a mystery to players. Such information is proprietary, known only by the manufacturer and the casino owner.

State-regulated gambling properties are obligated to report monthly figures on slot play, but the cumulative statistics are based on the destination's entire inventory of machines, broken down by denomination.

By way of illustration, here's a scenario under which the payback percentage of a machine could become higher than what it was programmed to be by the manufacturer:

A traditional three-reel spinning slot's pay table advertises a jackpot of $2,000 for one coin played, $4,000 for two coins played, and $10,000 for three coins (full coin) played. If nobody ever played three coins, the machine would never have to pay a $10,000 jackpot, yet its programmed payback percentage is calculated based upon the mathematical probability of that occurrence.

Therefore, that machine would reflect a higher "hold" percentage for the casino than what its PAR sheet showed.

Video poker players, on the other hand, are able to calculate payback percentage based upon the pay table of the particular game they are playing. But playing less than full coin on video poker can affect that percentage.

"Perfect play on 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker has a long-term payback percentage of 99.5 at full coin," Robison said. "But play one through four coins and your payback with perfect play drops."

Video poker progressives have a positive impact on player expectations, depending upon the size of the jackpots for a royal flush, aces with the kicker, etc. Factor in the cash-back and points you earn for using a player's club card and long-term percentage payback on such games will increase.

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