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Ask the Slot Expert: Which Machines Pay Better?

26 September 2012

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

In a recent question the person asked (in part): You press the stop button and the RNG takes a number the "seed" which I understand to be typically based on the milliseconds...

Which brings up my question. He said when you hit "STOP". When you hit stop and don't just let the reels spin to completion, does the machine then have to compute different payouts for all the next spins to maintain the payout amount, like 98%, for example?

Thank you,

Dear Chris,

Casinos don't like players who have skill. The casino's business model depends on the house edge on the games. If a player has a skill that reduces or reverses the house edge, that can hit a casino where it hurts it the most -- its bottom line.

Casinos would not be too happy if players could win more money on their slot machines through skillful use of the Stop button. As a result, the Stop button has no effect on the result of a spin, only the length of time it takes for the machine to reveal the result.

The original writer had an incorrect description of what happens during a spin. The machine determines the result after you commit to play by pulling the handle or pressing the Spin button. The result is not determined when you press the Stop button. When you press the Stop button, the machine just immediately stops each reel on the symbol that has already been chosen.

Now, there are some machines that at least claim to have some level of skill. My statements apply to the Class II and Class III machines that you find in casinos, which have their results determined by random selection.

Jackpots for all,

Love your column!!!

Is there really any slot machine that pays out better than another one?

Still trying to win a jackpot after all these years. Would love to have a copy of your book if you're ever in a giving mood.

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

There are machines that pay better than others and they're really easy to find. As a general rule, the higher the denomination, the higher the long-term payback. So, nickels usually pay better than pennies, quarters pay better than nickels, dollars better than quarters, etc.

An increase in long-term payback does not mean you'll lose less per spin, on the average. Let's compare betting 75 cents per spin on an 88% (12% house edge) quarter machine with betting $3 per spin on a 92% (8% house edge) dollar machine. The expected loss per spin on the quarter machine is 9 cents (75 x .12) versus 24 cents (300 x .08) on the dollar machine.

Within a denomination, most slot directors order roughly the same long-term payback on all of their machines. They don't order a few looser machines and place them in highly visible areas so players can see others winning and be encouraged to play more themselves like some slot directors used to do. Today's machines are so entertaining, slot directors don't have to encourage people to play. And today's slot directors have so many machines on their floors, they don't have time to micro-manage them.

Jackpots for all,

Hi John,

Can you tell me where to find info on beating Class II machines?


Dear Deb,

Robison's Rules for Slot Play apply to Class II machines too.

Rule #1: Over the long term, the percentage of money a machine pays back to its players will be very close to its long-term payback.

Rule #2: There is nothing players can do -- legally -- to change Rule #1.

My advice is to play machines you enjoy playing, play within your bankroll, and quit whenever it stops being fun to play. You might not be able to beat the machines, but if you have a good time then you are a winner.

Jackpots for all,

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