Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of John Robison
Ask the Slot Expert: Am I wasting money betting the max on a slot machine?22 June 2016
Answer: I made that statement about the virtual reels chip last week answering a letter from someone who was concerned that there was a computer chip in the slot machines he plays. If you were to open up the area where the brains of the slot machine are housed (usually called the Logic Drawer), you'd see many chips. I listed many of the different types of chips that a computer system -- which is what a modern slot machine is -- can contain.
The layout of the symbols on the reels has to be stored somewhere in the components that make up the computer system that is the slot machine. The layout should be stored in some component that is non-volatile and immutable, like a ROM (read-only memory) chip or CD, to prevent tampering with the data. Different reel layouts make it possible to have multiple long-term payback percentages for a slot game without changing the paytable.
Turning to your question, I don't think it would be more accurate to describe how the program running the slot machine determines where to stop the reels using your description. It implies that there's some intelligence in the virtual reel layout when, in fact, it's just a table and that the RNG does more than just generate a stream of numbers.
Let's do a high-level overview of how the program running the slot machine handles a spin. Let's assume that the machine has just finished paying off a winning combination and is preparing for the next spin.
The key difference is that the program running the slot machine calls all the shots.
Answer: You called these multi-denomination slots, but are you really changing the value of one credit or are you just betting more credits per spin?
If you are changing the value of a credit, it's possible that the higher denominations have more generous reel layouts. We can see that in the United States on video poker machines on which the paytable changes for the higher denominations. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell if the reel layout changes when you change denominations on a slot machine.
Because you called the different bets betting options, I think you're just betting more and not changing the denomination. It's still possible for the machine to give the players who bet more a higher long-term payback without changing the reel layouts or the reeel stopping positions dictated by the RNG, which would be illegal in the U.S..
One way is to enable certain features or symbols with the higher bets. On a Blazing 7s machine, for example, you usually have to bet at least two coins to enable the 7s combinations. Another way is to make something more likely with higher bets. On 88 Fortunes, you're more likely to go into the bonus round when the wild symbol appears on the screen and you've bet more. On one Lord of the Rings machine, the archer bonus feature is more likely to be triggered at the higher bet levels.
One more way to increase the long-term payback for bigger bettors is to require a max-coin bet to be eligible for the progressive. Similarly, one last way is to have one or more winning combinations pay a bonus with a max-coin bet.
You said that these slots are straight multipliers with no extras for the increased bet. Based on this statement, I would say that "average percentage payout" would more accurately be called "long-term payback percentage" and that the payback is 92% regardless of the size of your bet.
So, yes, you are wasting your money betting £5 per spin because you're not getting anything extra that you don't get at 50p.
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
Best of John Robison