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Ask the Slot Expert: Are fewer slot players hitting jackpots today?18 September 2013
Thanks for the kind words about my column.
There definitely is a change in slot psychology. It began about 15 years ago when the Australian-style, multi-line/multi-coin, video slot machines started appearing on American slot floors.
For the first hundred years or so of slot play, the primary reason players played slot machines was to win money. Depending on the playing experience that the manufacturer wanted to give for a particular slot game, the manufacturers balanced these aspects of the slot game: the value of the top jackpot, how frequently it hit, the values of the other winning combinations and how frequently they hit. Some games had large jackpots that hit infrequently; others had smaller jackpots that hit frequently.
When the video slots took over the slot floor, the primary reason that slot players played changed. Players now said that being entertained was the main reason they played slots. Winning money had moved from first to second place. A new phrase was used frequently: time on device. Players said they didn't mind losing as long as they felt like they got entertainment value for their money. Most of the video slots have high hit frequencies, which tend to keep players in "tray money" (an old phrase), which enables them to keep playing longer. More time on device.
As you pointed out, most of the video machines are penny and nickel machines. Even a 100,000-coin jackpot is only $1,000 to $5,000. Hardly enough to make the winner's wall in the old days. In addition, if you haven't won a jackpot on a traditional, reel-spinning slot machine, you probably know someone who has. I've hit some myself But I've never hit the top jackpot on a video slot and none of my friends and relatives have either.
So, I think that these two differences between reel-spinning slots and video slots account for fewer players hitting jackpots, which are worth less. One, jackpots are lower on the video slots because the denominations are lower. Two, jackpots don't hit as frequently on the video slots in order to pay for having the lower-paying winning combinations hit more frequently.
Where does a smart player get more spins at a higher payout possibility? In other words, is there a game that gives the players a reasonable chance at a good-sized jackpot and a good chance at getting some play from their money?
I would bet one coin at a time on a traditional, reel-spinning machine that is a straight multiplier, that has a low top jackpot, that has a low (one or two coin) lowest winning combination, and that does not have any multiplying symbols. I think that game will give you your best chance at getting a good amount of play from your money and giving you a chance at a good-sized jackpot.
Jackpots for all,
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.
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