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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Strategy for Multi-Line Video Slots

18 February 2004

It is pretty well established in the casino industry that multi-line video slots are not going away. If anything, they are going to be commanding an even greater presence in the short term. All of the leading slot machine manufacturers are coming out with new and improved versions of video games that will beckon us.

While I've never been a proponent of video slots, I certainly am aware of the entertainment value they possess as compared to their traditional spinning reel cousins. And even though I'm not ready to surrender completely to their beguiling ways, I admit they are mighty fun to play.

Given that there is really no way to beat them, the best strategy you can arm yourselves with is a thorough knowledge of the games combined with some elementary money management techniques designed to stretch your bankroll and your playing time a bit further.

Playing multi-line, multi-coin video slots comes with a very high price, The popular nickel versions pack the highest "hold" percentages of any slot machines in the Chicago-area market. Somebody has to pay for the bonus round features that we all find so exciting. That somebody is us.

To further complicate the situation, even though the games are marketed as "nickel slots", they are in reality "bags of nickels" slots, as in forty-five cents, ninety cents, $1.35, $2.25 and even more money at a time "nickel slots". Subjecting your money to hold percentages in the 10 to 15 percent range, especially at a rapid-play game like slots, can become a very expensive proposition for gamblers.

One way to not allow the house edge to devour your bankroll so quickly is to refrain from plunging head first into video slot machines by betting an inordinate number of coins on each spin. For example, many games are in the 9-line format which allow you to play as many lines and as many coins on each line as you wish.

I recommend that you increase your potential to win by playing the maximum number of lines every time, be it a 9-line, 15-line, or 20-line format. By activating the profit potential of the entire screen, you're going to avoid hitting jackpot symbols only to discover the lines on which they appear don't count.

My money management tool is to avoid too big an expenditure on the coins-played-per-line feature. Once you've activated all the lines on the screen, you're going to win something if the right combinations pop up. The number of coins you play per line merely multiplies that payoff.

Try this the next time you play a multi-line video slot: Instead of jumping right in with $1.35 per play (nine lines X three coins per line), alternate playing one coin per line, two coins per line, three coins per line, and so on. Using this system, you will spend forty-five cents on the first play in the sequence (nine coins), ninety-cents on the second play (18 coins) and $1.35 on the third play (27 coins) for a three-play expense of $2.70.

Compare that with three straight three-coins-per-line plays, or a $4.05 cash outlay. You're still giving yourself every chance to win and at the same time you're making your bankroll stretch while subjecting it to less exposure to the hefty house advantage.

Once you establish this type of wagering pattern, you'll see your playing time increase and hopefully your chances to reach an amount that'll be worth cashing out.

One other thing to keep in mind when playing multi-line, multi-coin video slots is to remember that you are not a slave to the push buttons on the cabinet that activate coins played per line. I have seen some buttons start with the usual one, two, and three coins, then jump to five, 10 and even 15 or more.

If you want to play, for example, four coins per line and can't find the corresponding button, just look for the touch feature on the video screen itself. It can be found near the bottom of the screen. In most cases you'll be able to play the number of coins per line that's comfortable for you without being intimidated into thinking you have to bet more.

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