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HOME > Gaming > Ask the Slot Expert: Are high-denomination slots programmed differently?

Ask the Slot Expert: Are high-denomination slots programmed differently?

9 April 2014

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

While I was walking through a casino in Central City, Colorado, I noticed that the casino had a designated "high stakes" group of machines. One of these high stakes machines was a $100 per bet machine! Wow!

I was wondering if these high dollar machines use a different pay-out formula than a penny or 25-cent machine since the player could be wagering several hundred to several thousand dollars per spin. I have seen people play a $10 per bet machine wagering several hundred dollars per bet. You can imagine how fast you can go through a bankroll if you hit a "cold streak" on one of these high stakes one-armed bandits!

There's absolutely no difference in the programming of a penny slot machine and a $100 slot machine. Each machine uses a Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine which symbols will land on the payline and the RNG doesn't care -- or even know -- what denomination the machine is. Each machine looks up the combination on the payline in the paytable to see if it is a winning combination and, if it is, how much the machine should pay the player.

If the paytable on a Double Diamond machine says a single cherry is worth two credits, then a single cherry pays 50 cents for a quarter bet on a quarter machine and $200 for a $100 bet on a $100 machine. In each case, the payout is 2-for-1.

Moreover, the math is the same on both machines. We calculate the hit frequency and long-term payback in exactly the same way on both machines.

You could turn a penny machine into a $100 machine by reconfiguring its denomination (which may require a chip change). No programming changes required.

High-denomination machines do tend to have higher long-term paybacks than low-denomination machines, so one could say that they are "programmed" to pay back more. But that's not really accurate because each machine contains the same program. What's different are the virtual reel layouts. The programs are choosing from different pools of possible outcomes.

You're right that you can lose a lot of money in a little time on a $100 machine -- even betting just one credit per spin.

I have a question regarding the RNG. Time and time again I have sat down at a machine someone just left -- or have seen someone at a machine I just left -- hit a big win or bonus. I understand it is virtually impossible to hit the button at the exact moment the RNG will give that same big win or bonus play to me or someone else, but isn't it possible that, even though you won't get that exact bonus, the RNG could be in a sequence of bonus play and still give out another kind of bonus for that sequence run?

There's really no such thing as an RNG being in a "sequence of bonus play." The RNG isn't in "bonus mode", running through different bonus amounts until someone plays the machine or maybe a timer runs out.

The RNG is just generating numbers. It has no idea what combinations those numbers map to. And to add a complicating factor, many outcomes require multiple numbers from the RNG. Most machines, for example, use a separate number from the RNG to determine where each reel will stop.

What happened in your scenario is that you or the other person just happened to hit the spin button when the number generated by the RNG mapped to a big win. If you or the other person had stayed on the machine and hit the spin button at the exact same instant, you would have won the same amount. A fraction of second earlier or later and the spin might have been a loser, a lesser winner or even the top jackpot.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

John Robison
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. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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