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Should I play dollars or pennies?

13 July 2011

By John Robison

I like to play the slots. But for some reason I do better on the penny machines. Some of it may be due to enjoying bonus rounds too.

Which would be the best to play to be a winner on? A dollar on the dollar slots or a dollar on the penny machines?

I wonder sometimes if I should just take my money and play the dollar slots to receive a better payback.


Dear Linda,

Here are the pros and cons of dollars and pennies:

The dollar machines will tend to have higher long-term paybacks than the penny machines. The dollar slot areas may be less crowded and cleaner than the penny slot areas. Your average hit, in addition, will be bigger on the dollars. And those are the only pros I can think of for the dollar slots.

The dollar machines probably won't be video slots with bonus rounds. Even if they are, you won't be able to bet more than one coin on one line. Your bankroll swings will be greater on the dollars because the machines can't pay back less than $1 on a winning spin. Your hits will be less frequent, but on average they will be bigger, than on the pennies.

It's true that you'll most likely get a higher long-term payback on the dollar machines. But it takes hundreds of thousands of spins for the difference in long-term payback to really affect your results. Long-term payback is really something that only the casino experiences.

If you like the dollar games and have the bankroll for them, you can play them.

Otherwise, just have a blast playing the penny games and their bonus rounds. Even when you've lost money, you've won something if you've had a good time playing.

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 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