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Can a Penny Machine Pay Off Better Than a Quarter Machine?13 July 2009
By John Robison
It's still true that dollar machines have higher long-term paybacks than quarter machines, which have higher long-term paybacks than nickel machines, etc.
It is certainly possible for different long-term paybacks to be in effect at different denominations on multi-denomination machines. Multi-denomination video poker machines usually give the higher-denomination players a higher long-term payback than the lower-denomination players.
As for your observation, are you and the 20-penny players playing the same number of lines? If the 20-penny players are playing more lines than you are, their higher hit frequency could give the impression that the machine is paying off better for them.
Let's say you are playing the same number of lines. There are three possibilities: your long-term payback is higher, their long-term payback is higher, the long-term paybacks are the same.
It's very unlikely that penny players would have a higher long-term payback than nickel players on the same multi-denomination machine, so we can eliminate that possibility. Your long-term payback is either higher or the same. I think if you kept careful track of your hit frequency and the penny player's hit frequency, you'd find that both numbers are very close. As for long-term payback, you'd have to play a few million spins each to get a good estimate of your long-term paybacks and I would expect both numbers to be close or for yours to be higher.
To answer your questions: Is it allowed? Sure. Different denominations can have different long-term paybacks, even on the same machine. Should the machine pay the same? It could, but it doesn't have to.
The long-term payback is calculated for each payback program that is on the machine. If the penny denomination on the machine uses a payback program with a long-term payback of 88%, in the long run penny players will get back 88% of the money they play through the machine. If the quarter denomination uses a payback program with a long-term payback of 92%, in the long run quarter players will get back 92% of the money they play through the machine. Play at one denomination has no effect whatsoever on play at another denomination. If two denominations use the same payback program, then each spin at each denomination has the same chances of landing any particular winning combination.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
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.
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