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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: PAR sheets for today's slots

21 August 2019

Question: I’ve seen PAR sheets for older machines, but do PAR sheets exist for the latest generation of slots – for instance, Dragon Link, Lightning Link or Mighty Cash machines?

These latest generation machines seem at least an order of magnitude more complex than earlier machines, and I am wondering if the Volatility Index is still published. And if it differs by wager denomination. Anecdotally, the reels appear very different with different wager denominations. Such variation is likely to require a PAR sheet with lots of, err, sheets.

Answer: The PAR sheet has to give the long-term payback of the machine and show how it is achieved. The probabilities and payoffs have to be listed for the base game, every feature and every bonus round. If a payoff or probability changes with denomination or bet per line, that has to be described on the PAR sheet too.

Calling the collection of information about how a slot game pays its players a sheet has always underplayed the size of the document. Even back in the '90s, the PAR sheet was always four to six pages long.

I played a bit of Hexogems Jewels of the Pharaoh today. I noticed something on the screen that I hadn't noticed before. When the machine goes into attract mode, the game screen changes to show a bet of 500 credits. In the middle of the bottom of the screen, it said, "500 credit bet reels in play." I checked some of the other credit bet options and the text changed with the credits bet.

The betting options on this machine are: 1-cent and 2-cent denomination 50, 100, 150, 250 and 500; 5-cent 30, 60, 90, 150, 300; and 10-cent 20, 40, 60, 100, 200. It looks like the reels at one and two cents are the same for each betting option. And it's interesting to note that there is only one betting option in common (60) for the 5-cent and 10-cent denominations and only one betting option in common (150) for the 1-cent, 2-cent and 5-cent denominations. Each of these options also use the same reels, though using the term "reels" is a throwback to old technology because this machine does not have reels. What they really mean is the probability of landing a particular symbol in a hexagon.

So I know that denomination affects the values of the MINI and MINOR awards on this machine, credits bet affects the reels, and total bet affects the probabilities of getting the MAJOR and MEGA awards in the bonus round. All of the details for those options – especially how they affect long-term payback – has to be disclosed on the PAR sheet, however many pages it takes.

Incidentally, the PAR sheet would also tell us if we're better off risking $3 per play by betting 150 credits at two cents or 60 credits at five cents.

The rules state that the "chance of winning MEGA and MAJOR increases with bet multiplier" so I tried playing 500 credits at 1-cent today. I never won any of awards in the bonus when I played a dollar or so per play, but this time I got both the MINI and the MINOR in the triggering play and won $240 in that bonus round.

I needed to play 850 points to earn 170 tier credits for a dining voucher. I went to a kiosk after I had earned 850 points and the kiosk said that I had earned only 169 tier credits. Ticked off, I went back to the machine to play another spin. Nothing. Let me give it one more for luck. I got the bonus again and won another $200. I got my revenge and my dining voucher.

If I'm talking tier credits, you know I must have been in a Boyd casino. Things have been weird there for the last month or so with card reader displays not showing daily points, not showing total points, not showing tier credits and kiosks not having the Account Info menu option, then getting it back but not showing your points on the screen and showing an incorrect number for your total tier credits, and now just showing daily tier credits.

I know that there is a problem when you pull your card before completing a tier credit, but I never pulled my card today. I should have had 170 tier credits after playing 850 slot points.

If anyone else has had a problem with B Connected not giving the proper number of points or tier credits, please let me know.

Returning to the original question about PAR sheets, you can get an idea for what a PAR sheet for a game with pick-'em and free spins bonus rounds would like in the PDF from the Wizard of Odds site. Note that he has a lot of explanatory text that wouldn't be in a real PAR sheet.

John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots