Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
John Robison Archives
More Strategy Experts
4 December 2013
By John Robison, Slot Expert™
Thank you very much for your kind words.
Let's look at what your goals might be for playing a certain number of coins.
Maximize hit frequency If you want to maximize your hit frequency, play at least one coin per line. You need to make sure that you play enough coins to activate each line and each winning combination.
Maximize long-term payback The number of coins you need to play to achieve the maximum long-term payback on a machine depends on its paytable. If every coin played on a line just multiplies the one-coin payoff and there is no bonus for playing maximum coins on a line, you might be able to get the maximum payback by playing just one coin or one coin per line. If there is a bonus for playing maximum coin, like on a progressive, then you have to play maximum coin (which might be a few dollars) on the machine to get the maximum payback.
Maximize playing time Bet the minimum bet possible per spin.
Now let's look at the alternatives you presented. Playing the lowest bet possible will stretch your bankroll to the limit, but winning a few cents or, at best, toll money on a winning spin may not get your blood flowing.
Playing maximum coin will increase the amount you can win on a spin, but it also significantly increases your risk because you're betting so much more per spin. Although the rewards can be large, your bankroll also has to be large to see you through cold streaks. In addition, if you're going to bet dollars per spin, you can usually get a higher long-term payback on a dollar machine.
I like to play somewhere in between minimum and maximum. I usually bet one coin per line at a minimum to get the highest hit frequency possible on a machine. If I hit a hot streak and my credit meter starts climbing, I increase to two, three or more coins per line. When the streak appears to be over and my credit meter starts falling, I decrease the number of coins per line.
Some machines, like Star Trek, allow you to make an extra bet per spin that enables an intermittent bonus event. These extra bets don't usually increase hit frequency or long-term payback. What they do, however, is increase volatility. You bet more per spin, so losing streaks will cost you more. But then you also have the potential to win more on a winning spin if the extra bonus is triggered. I don't make this extra bet as a matter of course. I'll only make it if I'm on a winning streak.
To sum up, I think betting the lowest bet possible on each spin on a machine won't be exciting enough for most players and their bankrolls can support a larger bet. Betting the maximum on each spin, on the other hand, is too risky and expensive. I recommend you play one coin per line and vary the number of coins you bet per line depending upon how well you're doing. If the machine offers an additional bet, make it only if you're doing well.
Hope this helps,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
27 November 2013I thought I would let you know Harrah's Chester (Philadelphia, Penn.) policy (as of a few months ago) regarding shutting down a slot machine. They will allow it for Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars members only and then grant a maximum time for the machine to be down according to player status. I believe Platinum is one hour, Diamond is two and Seven Stars is three hours. ... (read more)
20 November 2013Recent articles remind me of getting an answer from Casino Player magazine about whether to stay or stray from the machine. The answer was because of volatility I should stay. That's what I think is "wrong" with slots. High volatility and LOW hit frequency. Both make the player's bankroll very volatile. ... (read more)
13 November 2013I’ve noticed at my regular casino that there’s a $100 video poker machine that almost never gets played. I’m wondering if the machine pays back a percentage of what it takes in, does this mean that it won’t pay out until it builds up and takes in some cash over time? Or — assuming the paytable is the same ... (read more)