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How Do You Beat the Slot Machines?

13 June 2005

By John Robison

My wife and I enjoy playing quarter slots in Bossier City. Can you tell me if certain types of machines tend to pay more than others?

Also, my wife is considering moving up to a 50-cent machine and playing one coin versus one or two on a quarter machine. What are your thoughts on this?

Thank you,

Dear Robin,

As a general rule, the higher the denomination, the higher the long-term payback. Your wife will probably get a higher long-term payback playing the half-dollar machines. She's better off playing one coin per spin in the half-dollar machine versus two coins per spin and the quarter machine.

She is not better off, however, betting one coin per spin in the half-dollar machine versus one coin per spin in the quarter machine. She's doubling her risk by moving up to the half-dollar machine and the chances are very slim that the house edge on the half-dollar machine is half or less than that on the quarter machine. Unless the house edge drops to half or less, she's increasing her expected loss.

As for types of machines that pay more, wide-area progressives tend to have the lowest paybacks of all machines. That's the only type of machine that's markedly different from the rest.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I am interested in a trip to Atlantic City and have heard there are very few nickel video slots, especially as compared with the Mississippi coast. Can you tell me whether the AC casinos have a good number of the video nickel slots and even the penny slots?


Dear DM,

I have to admit that it has been a couple of years since I've been to Atlantic City and I've never been to the Mississippi coast.

The last time I was in Atlantic City, there were plenty of nickel slots. Penny slots' comeback is recent, so I don't recall seeing many (any?) there. The slot directors in Atlantic City know they have to have the hot machines, so I'm sure you'll find plenty of penny slots there now.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,


Some time ago I read an article, I think Alan Krigman wrote it, about playing the one payline, three-reel non-progressive slots, ONLY. It was kind of a system. I realize there is no foolproof system, but it's different and I have saved money by playing it. In fact, it's the only way I play now.

It's a one coin, two coin, three coin system. You start with 120 coins. I use three cups with 20 coins in one cup, 40 coins in another cup and 60 in the other. Play twenty coins one at a time. If you get a hit while playing one, cash it out, and if you then have more than 20 coins in the cup, put any coins over 20 in a special "WIN CUP" and never use them. Then play one at a time again, repeating the process, until the 20 coins are used up. Then play the 40 coins two at a time. If you get a hit playing two at a time, cash it out. If you then have more than 40 coins in that cup, put them in the 20-coin cup and play them at one at a time and repeat the play. Do the same with the 60-coin cup playing them three at a time, and follow the same procedure. If you get more than 60 in that cup, put the overage into the 40-coin cup and play them two at a time and so on. It's fun for me and I have hit jackpots while playing three coins several times. Of course, I did get good hits playing one or two, but you'll find the money lasts longer. Does that make sense to you?



Dear Jake,

A few years ago, I purchased a number of slot systems and this is one of the systems I purchased. Most of them were complete nonsense. This one, however, had a few positive aspects.

You mentioned that your money lasts longer. Compared with playing full coin all the time, you're stretching your bankroll when you play one or two coins per spin. Of course, you can really stretch your bankroll by playing one coin all the time, but you might find that a little boring.

And that brings us to the second positive aspect about this system. It keeps you involved in your play. You always have to know where you stand to know how many coins to play.

Another positive aspect of this system is it makes you break your bankroll into sessions. It also limits your loss per machine to 120 coins.

As systems go, this one is not too bad.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

I just got back from Tunica. I love that place. I have noticed not only in Tunica but in places I have played that the video slots hit better on nine or 10 lines.

For instance, instead of playing one on 15 lines in Elevator Monopoly, I played nine. The machine slowed down in hitting and in some cases even stopped hitting whenever I went up to 15. I steadily cashed out at $50 and $75 with only $10 in the machine.

I used this machine as an example but I have experienced this time and again with other nickel video machines.


Dear Faye,

You should see a higher hit frequency the more lines you play and I think you would see that in the long run if you kept careful track of your spins.

It sounds like you're doing well with playing nine or 10 lines and I won't argue with success. You are stretching your bankroll by not playing every line, but you aren't playing at the highest hit frequency possible from the machine.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

How do you beat the slot machines?

With a hammer.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.

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