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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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What's better: 10 or 20 lines?

29 May 2011

I really enjoy reading your articles. Here's a question regarding video slots.

My favorite machine is Geisha, but there are two varieties, one which has 9 lines and one which has 20 lines. For the sake of argument (and to make the math easier) lets say the 9-line machine is actually a 10-line machine. Also given is that I like to play $1.00 per spin.

For penny slots, on the 10-line machine my $1.00 buys a 10-coin bet per line, and on a 20-line machine I bet 5 coins per line per bet. If both machines have the same payoff, is there any advantage to playing one machine over the other?

Thanks.

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

Let's start with what is the same between the two machines. Because they have the same long-term payback, you'll win (lose, really) the same amount of money on each machine in the long run. Long-term payback is the only thing that matters in the long run. You'll end up in the same place, bankroll-wise, on either machine.

Where the machines differ is in the bumpiness of the rides getting you there. This is called a machine's volatility. The 20-line machine will give you a smoother ride because you're betting fewer coins on more lines than on the 10-line machine. Your hits won't be as large, but they'll be more frequent. In the short term, volatility matters more than long-term payback.

So, is there any advantage to one machine over the other? If you're like me and you don't like to have to keep feeding machines, play the 20-line machine. On the other hand, if you don't mind sometimes getting less play from your buy-in and you like racking up larger wins, play the 10-line machine.

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