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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Best bets for $1,000 bankroll

20 December 2008

I am curious as to the recommended bankroll requirements in order to play $5 machines for a few hours. Also, if I have a $1,000 to gamble with, what are my best bets?

The bankroll recommendations for playing a $5 machine (or any denomination machine, for that matter) depends a great deal on how long you want to play, how much you bet per spin, and the type of machine you play. Obviously, a longer desired play time requires a larger recommendation and betting more per spin also increases the recommendation. And playing a high volatility (low hit frequency) machine also raises the recommendation, otherwise you have too great a risk of running out of money during a cold streak.

As a general rule, I like to start with a bankroll sufficient for 100 spins. That's usually enough to keep me playing for 30-45 minutes, though sometimes it has been gone in 60 seconds — OK, not quite that fast, but the 15 to 20 minutes it did last seemed like 60 seconds. Assuming you'll bet $5 per spin, I think you should have a bankroll of $1000-$1500 to have a good chance of getting two to three hours of play.

As for best bets, I have to ask for your definition of "best." Do you want to know what machines will take less of your money in the long run or what machines will give you the best chance of winning something with the $1,000 or what machines will give you the most playing time? I don't know the answer, so here are a few ideas.

You could play dollar 9/6 Jacks (or any other high-payback video poker). This will give you a high long-term payback and a fairly good chance of being ahead. You could also play for quarters and play for a long, long time, but I think you're willing to trade off playing time and increased risk in exchange for a chance at a bigger pay day.

You could play a $5 machine (pick a straight multiplier) one coin per spin. This will give you a long-term payback that is not as high as on the video poker option, but you'll still have a fairly good chance of being ahead.

If you're willing to really take a chance and trade playing time for a shot at a big pay day, you can play a $10 or $25 machine. If you compare two Double Diamond machines, one $1 and the other $25, your chances for hitting any winning combination are roughly the same on each machine, but winning combinations on the $25 machine pay 25 times those on the dollar machine. An $800 payout on the dollar machine requires hitting the jackpot, but an $800 payout on the $25 machine requires only a 32-to-1 payout (that's like hitting double bars or triple bars, which is much more likely than hitting the jackpot). You'll get a guarantee of only 100 spins on the $10 machine and only 40 on the $25 machine. A cold streak could wipe you out. You have to prepared to lose it all. But that's the trade off you're making — playing time for a chance at a big win.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

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