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Ask the Slot Expert: Would I Have Won More at a Higher Denomination?

23 January 2013

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

I love your columns and appreciate the sharing of your knowledge. When the woman [in a recent column] stated that she has better results from "stopping the spin", your answer surprised me. When I see people "stopping the spin", I always think it is more of a superstition than a way to actually control the result. The reason I think it has no bearing on the outcome is that I always read in other columns that the result is determined in the microsecond that one hits the "play" button, not when the spin ends.

Am I wrong? Your answer made it sound that stopping the spin does actually alter the results.

Now I really am confused! Clarification please?


Dear Barb,

Thanks for the kind words.

You're not wrong. The outcome of a spin is determined when you start the spin and stopping the spin has no effect whatsoever on the outcome. The only thing affected is how long it takes for the machine to reveal the outcome.

I don't know what I wrote that made you think that stopping the spin alters the results. Let me expand on a few things to see if I make them clearer.

The lady wrote that she consistently gets better results than non-stoppers. The math says it shouldn't happen consistently, but I wrote that some people are outliers and get more than their share of good (or bad) luck. I speculated that she might be one of those people, but stopping the spin has nothing to do with it.

The lady wrote that she once hit a big amount (about $300) on a bonus round and she hadn't seen non-stoppers hit for big amounts. Hitting for $300 is rare on most video slots, so I'm not surprised that she hasn't seen any non-stoppers -- and maybe even other stoppers -- hit for that amount.

I think there's also a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here. The lady is convinced that stopping the spin improves her results, so she stops her spins. When she hits something good, she credits stopping the spin for her good fortune. She never lets a spin go to completion, so she never has the opportunity to hit something good on a non-stopped spin.

I concluded my answer with a lesson I learned a long time ago. When players are convinced that something they're doing is making them win, I don't argue with them even if I know that their actions are not having any effect. I don't argue with success -- even when it's illusory.

I hope this clears up your confusion.

Jackpots for all,

I recently visited Maryland Live Casino, which is a fairly new casino for this area. I was playing the new penny slots, which have a fixed amount of lines and various amounts to bet starting at either $0.40 or $0.50 and going to $2, $3 or $4 max. Most of these machines would either give you free spins or provide some sort of bonus.

I played the two lowest denominators back and forth for 10 spins. After about seven hours of play, my losses were $25, which is great.

My question is, what if I played the two highest denominations on these same machines, would I have received more bonuses and or spins or would the results been the same? When walking around observing some players putting in max coins, my perception was that they were hitting for very large amounts.

Thanks for any insight,

Dear Howard,

Keep in mind that the main reason the higher-denomination players were hitting for large amounts was because they were playing at a higher denomination. A 10-1 payoff when betting a dime pays only a dollar, but when betting $10 it pays $100 and the probability of hitting it could be the same at both denominations.

It's possible that you could have received more bonuses at the higher denomination. Some slots are set up to give a higher long-term payback to higher-denomination players. For example, your chances of being able to make an accusation and win the jackpot on the Clue slot machine increases with the amount you bet per spin. Slots can also use different virtual reel layouts at higher denominations.

It's also possible that changing the denomination would have no effect. There's no way to know without being able to see the specs on the machine.

My advice is to play at the level at which you're comfortable playing and don't be tempted by the amounts won by other players.

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