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Ask the Slot Expert: Do slot machines hit more frequently when I bet more?13 April 2016
Answer: Winning 36 bucks in a bonus round from a dollar bet doesn't sound too bad to me. I've had far worse results many times -- and far better results a few times. I'll admit, though, that I'd be pretty disappointed winning that amount if I had paid for those spins.
Don't beat yourself up over your decision to play the spins. You didn't know how much you would win on the free spins until after they had all been played. And you still don't know how much you would have gotten from the talk the money option.
The slot manufacturers set up the probabilities on the amounts in the guarantee so that the expected value of taking the guarantee is the same as that of taking the spins. If the expected values weren't the same, they wouldn't be able to calculate the long-term payback for the machine without also knowing the probabilities that a player would choose each option. The easiest way to make the choice irrelevant to the long-term payback calculation is to make the expected value of each choice the same.The casino therefore doesn't care which option you choose. And, in the long run, it doesn't matter how many players chose each option.
Answer: Thanks for the kind words about my column.
This is one of those situations in which one side is right, but there is a smidgen of truth to the other side, too.
Slot regulations usually specify that the amount bet cannot influence the RNG, the output from which determines where the reels stop and, therefore, which symbols land on the payline(s). In this sense, you're right. The amount you bet has no effect whatsoever on where the reels stop.
Your father-in-law can be right sometimes too when we consider the phrase pay more frequently. Although increasing the bet can't influence what lands on the payline, it can activate additional winning combinations or even additional reel sets. On Aristocrat's Game of Thrones machine, for example, the minimum 50-cent bet activates the two lower reel sets, while a $1 bet also activates the upper reel set.
When an increased bet enables additional ways to win, the hit frequency will be higher on the increased bet. On these machines your father-in-law is right. They do hit more frequently with the increased bet.
Let's look at a machine on which an increased bet does not enable new ways to win. You can prove that the amount bet does not affect its hit frequency. Play a few hundred spins at the lower bet and a few hundred spins at the higher bet. Keep track of the number of hits you get for each bet. The amount you win on the spin doesn't matter; a hit is a hit. The ratio of hits over total number of spins should be very close for each bet, and the ratios should get closer and closer the more spins you play.
In the interest of avoiding familial discord, I'll say you're both right. If an increased bet activates additional ways to win, your father-in-law is right. In the long run, the machine will hit more frequently with the increased bet because of the additional ways to win.
If the increased bet does not activate additional ways to win, then you're right. In the long run, the machine will not hit more frequently with the increased bet.
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