In the decades when three-reel games ruled slot floors, it was easy to know how to get the most of out the games. It took maximum-coin bets to get the highest payback percentages, and average returns were best at highest coin denominations. Betting the max was a must to be eligible for progressive jackpots. If you weren’t going to be the max, then you were far better off on a non-progressive game.
Then, as now, smart players never overbet their bankrolls and didn’t play a coin denomination they couldn’t afford.
That was about the sum of slot sense, through about the mid-1990s. But in the video age, all the added bonus events and features mean there’s more to learn. Here are a few things you should know in terms of slot cents, sense and sensibility.
DO VIDEO SLOTS PAY AS MUCH AS THREE-REEL SLOTS?
For the most part, no, because most video slots are lower-denomination games, and higher denominations bring higher payback percentages. All slot machines are made available by manufacturers with a variety of payback percentages, and it’s up to the casino which version to buy. A few casinos opt to put paybacks on nickel video games as high as those as quarter three-reelers, but most don’t.
Your wagers might be as high on a penny video slot as on a quarter or even dollar three-reeler, but the penny game still will have a lower payback percentage. That’s partly because players are drawn to the video slots by their entertainment value --- casinos offer lower payback percentages on the games because the customers still play them. It’s also partly because most players don’t make max bets on the penny games, and partly because you make fewer bets per hour on games with bonuses than on basic three-reel games. The bonus events give you time on device during which you’re not risking additional money.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO COVER ALL THE PAYLINES?
That depends on how bonus rounds are awarded. If bonus symbols must land on an active payline to trigger free spins or a second-screen event, then covering all the paylines is a must. When you’re playing a bonus event, you’re winning credits and spending time on the game without betting any extra money, so you want to get to the bonuses as often as possible. The more spins per hour you make that require wagers, the more it costs you to play.
Besides, the bonus events are why most video fans play, and we don’t want to cost ourselves chances at that entertainment.
ARE BONUS RESULTS PRE-DETERMINED, OR DO CHOICES MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Choices do make a difference in pick’em-type bonus events. The random number generator sets the possibilities, and then our choices determine the outcome.
By setting the possibilities, the programmer sets the odds of the game. Some players will have long bonus events and win a bunch of credits, some will have short ones and go back to the main game with a small bonus. In the long run, it’ll average out, the odds will hold up and the game will pay out what it’s expected to pay out.
WHAT DOES “CHOOSE YOUR VOLATILITY” MEAN?
Would you rather take your chances at a big jackpot, with fewer wins, or have more frequent wins with less of a chance at something really big? The big jackpot games are more volatile, and the frequent hit games are less volatile.
Incredible Technologies has gone farthest down the choose your volatility path with its Magic Touch games, including Cars and Fish Store. On the initial game, you can touch the screen to choose Win Often, Win Steady or Win Big --- low, medium, or high volatility versions of the same base game. Graphics and gameplay are the same, you’re just deciding whether you want a better chance at big wins with fewer small wins, or more big wins with increased scarcity of the big bonanzas.
Others have limited the volatility choice to bonus events. Bally’s Hot Spin is a U-Spin game that lets you choose the volatility of the bonus event. There are six levels of volatility available, represented by different reel symbols.
Do you want a lot of chances to spin the wheel, or do you want the chance at a really big jackpot when the wheel comes up? You get to choose.
It’s an extra tool in the designer’s kit, something that wasn’t available to players when all slot machines had three mechanical reels and no bonus events. Understanding volatility when it comes time to make the choice stands right alongside jackpot eligibility, covering paylines and other factors in an expanded slot sense for the video age.
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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