It is true that the player cannot alter the outcome of a slot game. There is no strategy for formula that can help a player win by changing the outcome of the random number generator that is used to choose the numbers for the players in slot machines. But, there are certain choices that the player can make that will ultimately steer them towards increasing their chances of winning the jackpot. Here, we are going to talk about how players can make the most of the slot games they play.
How to Maximize Your Slot Payouts
Slot machines, whether online or at the casinos, are inherently not games that require strategy. This is why both land-based casinos and online casinos offer slots as games of pure chance. This means while skill-based slot games are over the horizon, there is rarely any skill required at all when it comes to playing slots. Since there’s hardly anything any player can do to alter the results of their game, how does a player maximize their slot payouts while reducing their losses?
- Betting Maximum Coins
- Scouting for Progressives at Casinos
- Playing ‘Banked-Bonus’ Slot Machines
Being able to maximize your returns does not necessarily mean making more long term profit on the slot games you play. That’s because the house edge isn’t that flexible as it is with other games like video poker or blackjack. The strategies that come into play are a way of bettering your chances of some wins, while coming to terms with the reality that losing sessions are part of the deal when it comes to playing slots that have the house edge.
Betting Maximum Coins
It is normal for land-based casinos to encourage its players to bet the maximum amount of coins while playing their slot machines, which has led to players questioning this strategy. The answer here mainly depends on the type of slot game that is being played.
- Both land-based and video slots cover all the paylines. These games have been programmed to yield the same percentage on a minimum or maximum bet per line.
- The landbased slot games that have three mechanical reels the player can expect to get higher payback percentages when they bet the maximum number of coins per payline.
Now, let’s take a look at these two very different situations on the three-reel, mechanical reel.
Making Maximum Bets on Three-Reel Mechanical Slots
Players of the three mechanical reel slots can expect to win a higher payback percentage if they are betting the maximum coins. That being said, betting extra coins does not mean getting a higher percentage. Let’s take a quick look at how this works in the mechanical reel slots:
On multiplier slots each win can be considered to be proportional to the number of coins that have been wagered. The payoffs are proportional to the size of the wager which means that betting three coins will lead to three payoffs with one coin.
In this format, the payback percentage is similar regardless of the amount of coins that a player bets. In other words, there are no incentives to making maximum bets, as given in the pay table. The pure multipliers are considered to be rare in land-based slots that feature three mechanical reels, although there are many five-reel mechanical slots and video slots that are pure multipliers in the non-bonus reel spinning segment of the slot machine.
Multipliers Featuring Disproportionate Jackpots
There are many three-reel mechanical slots that offer players more incentives whenever they bet maximum coins. This often includes a disproportionate jump towards the jackpot. For instance, getting three 7s can give payoffs of up to five times when betting three coins as compared to betting a single coin on the same pay table. Most three-reel mechanical slots require the player to bet the maximum coins in order to be eligible for the jackpot.
To get an idea on the impact this has on the payback percentage let us imagine this pay table on a £1 slot game which returns 95% whenever the player bets the maximum amount of coins, and in which the odds of reaching closer to the jackpot is once per 20,000 plays.
- If the player decides to bet the maximum then they will be betting £60,000 for every 20,000 plays.
- Getting a 95% payback means that the player is getting around £57,000 back on average.
- This means, on the £57,000 the player gets in returns, they win £5,000 from the jackpot and £52,000 by playing other portions of the slot game.
- When the player bets a single coin, per 20,000 plays the will be betting up to £20,000, with the smaller pays being proportionate so that the player is able to get at least one-third of £52,000 or £17,333.
- Making the one-coin bet means that you can hit a jackpot of just £1,000 on the 7-7-7 hit, bringing the total payback to £18,333.
In order to estimate the payback percentage you can divide £18,333 in returns by £20,000 in wagers, before multiplying it by 100. This will get you a percentage of 91.7%
If the player bets the max the machine will return 95%, and if they don’t, then the game will return 91.7%. Betting the maximum does not make the jackpot go up any more than it would while betting fewer coins. That being said, the standard odds of the game, coupled with a disproportionate pay table, means that the payback percentage is higher if the player bets maximum coins.
Higher Percentage vs. More Risk
When it comes to multipliers with disproportionate jackpots, the player always gets a higher payback percentage if they bet the maximum number of coins. But, does this mean that they should always be betting max coins? Let’s take a closer look at the pay table below:
- The machine under multipliers along with modified jackpots return up to 91.7% to those players who bet on one coin.
- Per every 1,000 plays, a one coin wager can bring a 917-coin return, while the house keeps 83 coins.
- If the player bets three coins per play, the payback increases to 95%, and with a 1,000, three-coin bet, the player gets back 2,850 coins, while the house keeps 150.
Although the player does get a higher payback percentage the average losses are considerably higher since they are risking more money. This often means that the player needs to weigh the risk that goes into making a wager.
On a buy-a-pay slot game each of the coins that are wagered unlock a portion of the potential pays of the slot game. In some slots, this can be as simple as a three pay lines across the reels, meaning that the player only gets to win on the combinations that are across the center reel once one-coin bet has been made. Apart from that, betting two coins can get you a win on the top line, and bottom line wins for those who bet up to three coins in a slot game. The following is an example:
Since the slots winning combination has landed on the third line, the player would get the three 7s winner only if they bet the maximum coins, while other buy-a-pay slot games unlock paying symbols with each coin that’s wagered. Here’s a quick example of what that looks like.
- The first coin that is wagered can unlock the fruit symbols, while the second and third coins unlock the bars and the 7s respectively.
- If the player is able to lineup three bars but has only wagered a single coin, they do not get to win. Similarly, if the player lines up three 7s but has only bet one of two coins, they will win nothing.
- It is advised not to play the buy-a-pay slot machine if you are not ready to wager the amount of coins that are required to unlock the winning symbols.
In this game, the last thing any player would want to see is the three jackpot symbols line up when they have not bet enough to unlock the wins. It is not unheard of for players to get the jackpot symbols aligned only to find that they did not make the maximum bet in order to win the jackpot. If you want to win big, then you do not want to be that player. On a buy-a-pay game, you should either be ready to make the maximum bet or just don’t bother.
Mechanical Reel Slot Games
- The amount of coins that’s wagered by the player does not make a significant difference to the overall slots payback percentage if the slot game being played is a pure multiplier.
- If the player is unable to bet max coins on the buy-a-pay or progressive slots featuring mechanical reels they should opt for another game.
Betting the Maximum on Video Slots?
When it comes to the five-reel video slots, the situation along with the outcome are very different. The paybacks are then proportional to the amount of coins that are wagered per payline on the slots, without any jackpot jump for betting the max. To give a simple example of the math behind these slots, the game is simplified from the pay tables that are usually seen in the casino games.
The casino games often times feature more characters and use generic symbols such as A-K-Q-J-10 and so on. Most of the video slots also include multiple bonus events. Besides the simple layout of these games, there are other possibilities of winning combinations, which are more as compared to the three-reel slots. For instance, getting even two in a row of the top paying symbols can get you a payoff.
Being Eligible for a Win
When it comes to your eligibility for a payoff, making sure to bet on each one of the paylines is always a good strategy. This is because on some of the slot machines the bonus symbols are required to land on an active payline for the player to be eligible to win free spins, pick-a-symbol, wheel spins or any other bonus event during the game. For instance;
- If the player decides to bet on a single coin, it can activate only the center payline.
- The player then goes to the event if the three bonus symbol lands in the center line, since it is now an active line.
- The player cannot get a bonus if the symbols land on a reel that hasn’t already been activated.
The time that is spent by the player in bonus events is where they get to build their credits without having to make any extra wagers. This is reason enough for slot players to maximize their chances of winning a bonus event during the game, or win as many bonus events as they can during a game. Some of the newly designed slots do away with the problem altogether by getting rid of the option to play fewer paylines than those available.
For example, a 40-line slot may have buttons that are labeled “Bet-40” “Bet-80” “Bet-120” “Bet 160” and so on, hence giving the player more options to bet either one, two, or up to five credits per payline, without them being allowed to play a single line. In the world of slot machines these games are known as “Forced Bet” slot machines.
- Slots featuring mechanical reels without the multiplier pay tables allow players to get the highest payback percentage possible by betting the maximum number of coins.
- The disproportionate leap in the top jackpots are the main incentives of playing the three-reel slots and betting the max.
- Receiving the highest payback percentage after betting the max does not necessarily mean that the average losses are lower just because the higher bets lead to more risks.
- Being able to cover all of the paylines even those whit the minimum coins per line is crucial when it comes to video slots, and especially if the bonuses require the symbols to land only on those paylines that are active.
Scouting for Progressives
By betting max coins on the three-reel slots and making sure you cover all of the paylines, you can get a maximum payback percentage on video slots. That being said, even covering these factors cannot get the player the advantage over the house edge. This is because the odds of the slot games have been initially set so that the house can make a profit, regardless of the size of the bet or whether the player is using a live casino or an online one. But, it is natural for some slot players to try to turn those odds around. One way of getting an advantage is by scouting for progressives in the live casino games, which can be broken into two groups:
- Scouting for the top jackpots in three-reel games is one way to increase your chances of hitting the jackpot.
- Scouting for those slot games where the casino advertises that a certain number is required before the player can win a jackpot. But, this too isn’t a fool-proof way of winning.
- With the amount of work that is required, scouting is an extremely time consuming job and is not at all as easy as it is thought to be
- Players do not have the necessary information of the jackpot amount.
- Scouting for jackpots becomes even harder when you are playing progressive slots that are linked together, and usually means that another player who is playing the same game could win the jackpot.
- The results of the jackpots remain random so it is less likely that you could win a jackpot by simply scouting for them. But, if you are playing progressives and the jackpot is already high, the payback percentage will also be considerably high.
While it is hard to have an advantage over the house edge, skipping low jackpot games means you will always be playing for a higher jackpot, or at least one that is higher than the pay table. Now, let’s take a closer look at how all of this works.
Scouting for Top-Paying Jackpots
The progressive slots begin each of the jackpots with a base amount, which is built up with each bet made by the players. Those players who scout for progressives do not play the slots that have a low jackpot amount, but rather, the average payoff slots. This can be done after much scouting and charting for the big payoffs. Jackpot hunters usually keep a record of the slots in an attempt to determine the average payoffs whenever the jackpot hits.
Since it is not possible for the jackpot hunter to be present during every jackpot win, certain aspects need to be considered, such as the following:
- It is imperative for those slot players who are serious about winning a jackpot to make frequent visits to the casino to see the jackpot level, or ,more easy you can also use jackpot.casino to get the average jackpot wins.
- If they missed the jackpot payoff then it is up to the player who is scouting to ask the attendant for the size of the jackpot.
- Many casinos display the photos of winners who’ve won the jackpot recently, along with the jackpot amount.
- The player scouting for jackpots may also have to make an estimate of the jackpot based on the previous payoff.
- The more data the player who is scouting is able to collect, the better their chances will be of finding a high paying jackpot.
- Keeping the above diary entries in mind, the player who is scouting for a jackpot would take the low jackpot amount as an outline. In this case, that would be £5,981.
- He would also observe that multiple jackpots were more than £8,000, so he would not start to make a wager before the jackpot reached at least £8,000.
- While this strategy does not guarantee hitting a jackpot, playing those games when the jackpot has reached its average high means that they could possibly win a higher payback percentage, as compared to those who start playing when the jackpot amount is around £2,000.
The Jackpot and the Payback Percentage
There is no exact way of knowing the payback percentage of any slot game, nor is there a way for the players to know the amount of the top jackpot and the overall returns. But, experienced players can make a hypothetical example of how the process works. For instance, let’s take a £1 slot that gives back returns of 92% when the jackpot is at a base value of £5,000. The non-progressive slots normally pay more than that in the UK and US, but they do start with lower returns while building up the jackpot amount, which in turn, increases the payback percentage.
Now, let’s say that 87% out of the 92% return comes from the smaller wins, and 5% from the jackpot itself. Per, £100,000 wagered the player would get back only £87,000 in smaller payoffs, while £5,000 would be from the jackpot, bringing it to a total of £92,000. But, if the player does not start playing until the large payoff is £8,000, he will be playing a game with a different payback structure altogether. In this case, per £100,000 wagered, the player would get back £87,000 in small pays and £8,000 from the jackpot itself, bringing it to a total of £95,000.
This means the payback percentage of the game is 95%, if the player starts to wager at the right time. This can be done at different jackpot levels to get a better idea of the game.
In the slot game above, the payback percentage has risen to one percent for each £1,000 that is added to the jackpot. The game then reaches a break-even point when the payback percentage hits 100% or no-house edge at a jackpot of £13,000. The £13,000 jackpot is higher than the payoffs recorded in the jackpot scout’s diary, which means that he would not be playing a slot with a 100% return. This hypothetical game was set up simply to give an example to those who are new to the slot machine. While real-world examples differ, the underlying message remains the same, such as:
- The player does play for a higher payback percentage if they reserve their play for the time when the jackpot amount is at its highest.
- It should be noted that even at times of high jackpot payoffs, the payback percentage seldom reaches 100%.
Apart from this, there is another important factor that has to be kept in mind by the player. The high jackpot levels do not mean that the jackpot will be occurring often. If the odds have been already set to hit a jackpot after every 20,000 plays, the player will hit the jackpot only once after every 20,000 plays. It does not make a difference whether the jackpot level is at £2,000 or £20,000.
The odds of hitting the jackpot are always going to be the same since it has been pre-determined by the slot manufacturer or the casino. It also doesn’t matter whether a player hit the jackpot on the first few plays or if it has been 100 plays since the last jackpot. If the odds were once after 20,000 plays, that’s how it is going to remain until the programming of the slot has been updated. Since the casino never posts a slot’s payback percentage, there is no way of knowing the odds of the jackpot payoffs. Keeping that in mind, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if you do or do not use jackpot scouting as a method to win a higher jackpot.
Scouting for ‘Must-Win-By’ Slots
There are video slots that tell you that the jackpot will be awarded at a certain level. A good example of this can be given of Mystical Fortunes by WMS Gaming. Here, the top box features the title of the game along with the two progressive jackpots that are labeled ‘Major’ and ‘Minor.’
The jackpot amount is given in large yellow colored numbers, with a message underneath which reads, “Must Award by £50.00.” Under the word “Major’ and its jackpot amount, the message reads “Must Award by £500.” This gives slot players a good idea of when to expect the jackpot.
Then, there are the mysterious slot machines, which have been discussed in earlier chapters, where the minimum bettors are allowed to play for the maximum jackpot. These jackpots are usually separated from the main game, and the player is still able to spin the video reels and collect payoffs for the winning combinations, or even launch bonus events. It is highly unlikely that scouting these games will give you any sort of edge over the house.
The player gets to collect the jackpot whenever their wager pushes the total to the pre-selected amount of the random number generator. For instance, if the base amount of the jackpot is set at £200 and has to be awarded when the amount reaches £500, the random number generator will select a number between these two values. What this means is if the percentage of the player’s bet adds up to the jackpot, it pushes the total resulting in a win.
In these slot games the payoffs are not decided by the alignment of the symbols on the reels, or the outcome of the spin. The slot machine will just tell you when you’ve won. In these slots, all amounts get an equal opportunity of being selected by the RNG. But, players have a better chance of winning the jackpot if they are closer to the ‘must-win-by’ amount. This is because the jackpot possibilities narrow down as lesser jackpot amounts are left. Since the possibilities in these slots come in one-percent increments between £200 and £201, the player will have 100 possibilities.
With a £300 difference between the base and the maximum, the possibilities reach to 30,000. If the bet increases the jackpot amount to £200.01 there will be a one in 30,000 chance of that total being the jackpot amount. But, if the bet increases the jackpot amount to v201.01 then there have been 100 amounts that have already been eliminated, bringing the chances of you triggering a jackpot to one in 29,000. The following are some of the possibilities of jackpots and the player’s chances of hitting them whenever their bets take it to the next level:
What we can see here is that the closer the total is to the ‘must-win-by’ amount the better the player’s chances are of winning the jackpot. Here, almost half of the jackpots are going occur for an amount that’s less than £350, and the other half of jackpots will occur when you hit more than £350. That being said, there are multiple possibilities when it comes to the jackpot totals, meaning that the player is always the underdog. This is an important factor that every slot player needs to keep in mind before they begin playing the slots.
- On the ‘must-win-by’ progressive slots, the player is more likely to hit a jackpot when the jackpot amount is closer to the designated maximum.
- Waiting to play until the levels are higher will definitely lead to a higher payback percentage.
- Playing the waiting game is not necessarily a way of winning because the house is always going to have the edge over the slot players.
Banked Bonus Slots
Those slots in which is it possible for players to have an edge over the house are extremely rare, but it’s no reason to give up on them altogether. There is a reason why players who are looking to gain the edge over the house on certain slot machines should not lose hope of ever finding one. That reason for a slot player comes in the form of banked bonuses, which are considered to be extremely rare to find nowadays but not entirely impossible to come by. The characteristics of a banked bonus slot game is that it allows the player to have a target to shoot for. These come in two types:
- Those slots where the objective is to collect in order to trigger a bonus award.
- Slots which offer a credit reward that builds up eventually leading to a bonus award.
The key to winning in these slot games is that they have bonuses that are partially completed which remain for play by the next person to wager a coin. When each player starts afresh, it builds towards a bonus reward, but not an edge. The banked bonus slots were a hot commodity back in the day when land-based casinos were at its peak, especially during the 90s and early 2000s.
The popularity of banked bonus slots have since dwindled, but they can still be found in those casinos that have older slots. Banked bonus slots can easily be found online though, but there is usually no carryover from one player to the next, since the slot is played online. These games are only being included here as an example of the many opportunities that players have had to win the jackpot through the years.
Back in 1996, WMS Gaming released its debut banked bonus slot game called “Piggy Bankin” which was a three-reel mechanical slot with a top box that had a Dotmation screen. On the dotmation screen orange dots on a black screen formed an image of a piggy bank, and displayed the credit amount on the side.
The initial value of the game was 10 coins, and a coin would be added to the bank each time three blank spaces landed on the payline. The Dotmation hammer smashed the piggy bank every time the bank symbol appeared on any of the paylines, and the player collected the number of coins that were added to the bank.
Those slot players who were sharp had figured out that if they just waited until the bank had enough coins in it, they would automatically have the edge over the house. This was eventually revealed in a published report by a famous gambling expert and mathematician called Stanford Wong who first suggested that the breakeven point of the Piggy Bankin slot was 15 coins, which means that most players who were aware of this loophole in the game would only play the slot when there were 15 or more coins already in the bank.
Those players would then play until they eventually broke the bank. Using this method, players won big every time, it was only a matter of padding the bankroll by a few dollars and then moving on, only to return to the slot if the credit was built up in the bank. In other words, look for the slot machine with the most coins to be rewarded, and keep on playing until you win.
During peak hours in the banked bonuses games, the games involving the collection of objects normally outnumbered those of building credits. But, nowadays, if you do find a banked bonus slot game on the casino floor, it is more or less likely that it is a banked bonus game.
The Manufacturers Who Followed the Trend
The S&H Green Stamps slot seems to be a permanent fixture on casino floors even though it was first launched back in 2004.
These collection slots were first borne of Silicon Gaming, which was one of the first slot manufacturers that were completely focused on developing video slots. A signature game of Silicon Gaming, was Odyssey slots which were first released in 1997 and featured elongated, HD video screens with symbols to choose from the many games.
The Odyssey slots were the first slot machines to ever use hard drives and HD animations. While the games were similar to the traditional three-reel slots than the Pick’ Em bonus games which were being introduced by other slot manufacturers.
Along with the three-video reels, the Fort Knox slot also featured a 10-digit code. While playing, the player would have to collect the digits of the code. This required no skill, or particular choices, all the player had to do was just collect the digits that appeared randomly during game-play.
Each digit that was collected by the player brought them one step closer to winning the payoff and when the player had all ten digits of the code, the animation on the screen would change to the doors of Fort Knox, which would swing open, revealing the gold and the amount of the payoff that was won by the player.
But, it was not before long that the players of this game too learned to scout for the machines where the code was solved half way by other players. If there was a game in which half of the digits of the code had already been solved, players who were scouting would start playing until all of the digits of the code were found and they won.
A number of these banked bonus slots were introduced by Silicon Gaming, one such slot was Buccaneer Gold, which was a pirate-themed slot game where the player had to collect daggers instead of digits. Every time a dagger appeared on the reels, it would be stuck in the rails of the pirate’s ship, and when up to five daggers were collected, the bonus was triggered.
This time around, the magic number was three. So, when players who were scouting for bonuses saw that three out of the five daggers were already stuck on the rails, they would start playing until they found the last two daggers as well to trigger the bonus. This was another slot game which offered an easy profit-making opportunity.
These were not the only slot manufacturers of the time who were developing similar games, IGT also started on a similar path, where the mechanical reel slots featured screens with the bonus amount on them. One of the Vision Series slots was called Racing 7s, where a red, white, and blue colored 7s were placed on a track that was divided into segments. Each of the 7s had a credit amount associated with winning.
In the version of game that paid the highest, the red 7 was able to win up to 100 credits, while the blue and white could win 25 and 10 respectively. Every time a 7 landed on the payline, the 7 which was of the same color would move up a notch on the track. The seven that reached the finish line first won the payoff. The trick here was simple, which was to look for those slots where the 7s had already reached half way on the segmented tracks.
Bally Technologies also had the S&H Green Stamps which you can still find in some casinos today. The objective of their slot game was to fill a book with Green Stamps which were trademarked. It took up to 1,200 stamps to fill up a book. When the stamp symbols appeared on the video reels, those stamps were transferred to the book. The player could add up to 50 stamp symbols at a time.
The onscreen book displayed 12 spaces for stamps, each space representing 100 stamps. This meant that if there were four stamps on the screen, the previous players had already found 400 stamps on the reels. This made it easier for the players who were scouting for bonuses to figure out which slot machine was worth playing. If the player spotted a game with at least 600 stamps already collected, this gave them a clear edge over the house and was the perfect time to start playing.
The closer the stamps symbols on the screen were to filling up the 12 stamp spaces, the greater their chances of winning over the house. Once all 1,200 of the stamps were collected on the reels, the player had the option to either choose the free spins or start filling another book. The strategy here was to always take the free spins and leave the book filling to other players.
With the rate at which technology has advanced through the years, you will seldom find a banked bonus slot game in today’s casinos, mostly because the casino owners have become privy to the ways of those scouting for bonuses. But, if you do find the slots where other players who have come before you have reached halfway across the finish line, it wouldn’t hurt to complete the task for them and take home a prize.
- The banked bonus slots usually involved building credit rewards onscreen or collecting objects via the virtual reels to reach the target.
- While banked bonus slots are extremely rare today, if you do find one that’s preferably half-way consider yourself lucky.
- Players can only get the edge over the house if the credit award is large of others have left the game with three quarters of the objects already collected.
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