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Best of John Robison

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Should I play at the higher denomination on a multi-denomination machine?

13 April 2009

Hi John,

Just discovered your column today. Good reading. I've had this question for a long time. My favorite slot is a 25-line machine and has 1, 2 and 5-cent play. I like to play 1-cent maximum lines with 2 coins per line for a 50-cent total bet. I could play 2-cent maximum lines with one coin per line for the same 50-cent bet. Is there an advantage to one method over the other? Thanks!

Phil

Dear Phil,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

To be sure about the answer to your question, we'd have to be able to look at the machine's PAR sheet, which details how the symbols are arranged on the virtual reels and what the probabilities are for the bonus rounds. Because I don't have the PAR sheet, I'll have to guess.

First, by upping the denomination you may be increasing the long-term payback. Long-term payback usually increases with denomination. It's also possible, though, that the long-term payback on the machine is the same for both 1-cent and 2-cent play. There's no way to know for sure without the PAR sheet.

Second, let's look at the number of lines played. Increasing the number of lines played increases hit frequency. You're playing all the lines under both scenarios, so we have a push.

Finally, let's look at the per line bet. You're playing twice as many coins per line at 1-cent than at 2. Winning combinations on paylines will pay twice as many credits. Plus bonus rounds based on your line bet will also pay twice as many credits. But because each credit is worth half as much, your dollar winnings will be the same. Another push.

The final score is two pushes and a maybe. Nevertheless, I recommend playing one coin per line at the 2-cent denomination just because there's the chance that you might be playing at a higher long-term payback.

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