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HOME > > Ask the Slot Expert: Best way to play Lock It Link

Ask the Slot Expert: Best way to play Lock It Link

4 May 2022

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: My wife and I love playing the Lock it Link slots on cruises.

I don’t completely understand the way to bet on the machines other than wagering 50 cents up to $5. Could you explain the best way to play this machine?

I usually have a $500 bankroll.

Answer: Here's my seven-step plan for playing Lock It Link machines:

  1. Pick a machine.
  2. Sit down at chosen machine.
  3. Put money in bill acceptor.
  4. Choose a denomination.
  5. Choose a bet.
  6. Watch the reels spin and hope for a jackpot.
  7. Repeat step 6.

Snarkiness aside, there's really not much you can do to improve your odds on a slot machine.

For those not familiar with the machines, Lock It Link is a series of game themes from Scientific Games. The Lock It Link feature is triggered when three or more heart symbols land on a row. The symbols on the row move so that they are adjacent to each other (link). The machine draws a border around the grouping and puts a padlock on the border (lock). Each heart symbol has a credit value or Mini, Minor, Major, or Grand.

The heart symbols on the screen are now locked in place. Your goal in the bonus is to fill the screen with hearts. You spin the reels and hope that hearts appear in the positions without a heart. These new hearts don't have credit values until they're part of a linked grouping.

You start with three spins. Every time a heart symbol lands on the screen, it locks in place and your remaining spins count goes back to three. If the symbol is adjacent (up/down or right/left, not diagonally) to a linked group, it joins the group and gets a credit value based on your bet. The credit values on all the other hearts in the link are increased by that credit value too. If the symbol is adjacent to a grouping with only two symbols, it joins with those symbols to create a linked grouping and those hearts get credit values.

The bonus ends when you either fill the screen or you run out of spins.

The one thing that is completely under your control at a machine is how much you bet per spin. I usually check the rules to see the minimum I have to bet to enable all of the progressives or features on a machine. That's my base line bet. I may bet more than the base line bet depending on my bankroll.

Some machines let you choose a denomination. If the machine displays a message like "Loading..." or a specific set of reels are in play, it's possible that higher denominations may have higher long-term paybacks or hit frequencies. My experience has been that the 1 and 2-cent denominations seem to be the same and the 5 and dime denominations seem to be the same.

Is it better to maximize denomination or credits bet per line? Without access to the PAR sheet, we have no way to know. Many times I played about $5 per spin on a Game of Thrones machine. That was the maximum bet at the penny denomination and the minimum bet at dimes. I was going to compare how many bonuses I got at each denomination (I like this kind of research.) but the machine was removed before I collected enough data.

My general rule is that you should have enough session bankroll for 100 spins. If your $500 bankroll is for this session, you can afford to bet $5 per spin. Check each denomination for bets that are about $5. I would probably play pennies or nickels. If you have to make a max bet to be eligible for the progressives, I would play pennies.

If your bankroll has to last for two days or two machines, look to bet $2.50 per spin. If you have to lose eligibility for a progressive, so be it. Adjust your bet down if you bankroll has to last for more days or more machines. You can take whatever you have at the end of a session and put it towards your next session bankroll and bet a little more.

The goal is to avoid running out of money before you run out of the desire to play.

In short, the best way to play a Lock It Link machine -- or any machine -- is to bet an amount that is commensurate with your bankroll.


I want to clear some items that have collected in my rant folder.

First, Bill Maher. In his end-of-show editorial on his first show back, he made fun of people who wear masks in their cars. He asked if they think that they can catch Covid from the radio. And he recently said something like wanting to punch 20-somethings he sees walking alone and wearing a mask.

Speaking for myself, sometimes I get the mask on just right, a good seal and a comfortable fit. It's easier to just leave it on when I cross the street to go from the bagel shop to Starbucks than to try to achieve that success again. The masked people in cars and walking outside probably find it easier to put the mask on once and then run all their errands.

On a few occasions, Maher has said that the American people can deal with nuance. Really? How well did we handle this nuanced statement on PBS Newshour?

Judy Woodruff: It's the end of April. It's the spring of 2022. How close are we to the end of this pandemic?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: Well, that's an unanswerable question, for the following reason. And I don't want to be evasive about it, but let me tell you why I'm giving you that answer, Judy.

We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase. Namely, we don't have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.

So, if you're saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don't believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we're not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don't know how often that would have to be, Judy.

That might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low. But, right now, we are not in the pandemic phase in this country. Pandemic means a widespread, throughout the world, infection that spreads rapidly among people.

So, if you look at the global situation, there's no doubt this pandemic is still ongoing.

On Maher's 02/04/22 show, he said:

The medical establishment is wrong a lot. No research that outdoor transmission is likely or common.

How much wrong do you get to be while still holding the default setting for people who represent "the science"?

Eat eggs. Then don't. Then do.

Take aspirin. Then don't. Then do.

The Food Pyramid. Really? Bread and milk every day?

Fifteen years ago recommending trans fats. Now they're illegal.

First, outdoor transmission. From A wind speed threshold for increased outdoor transmission of coronavirus: an ecological study:

Throughout the U.S. epidemic, the role of outdoor shared spaces such as parks and beaches has been a topic of considerable interest. This study suggests that outdoor transmission of COVID-19 may occur by noting that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the summer was higher on days with low wind speed. Outdoor use of increased physical distance between individuals, improved air circulation, and use of masks may be helpful in some outdoor environments where airflow is limited....

...this study may suggest that individuals socializing outdoors may not be completely safe by being outdoors and should remain vigilant, especially on days where airborne particles may be less likely to disperse due to contextual factors such as reduced wind speed, that may reduce the benefits of socializing outside. In this case, outdoor use of increased physical distance between individuals, improved air circulation, and use of masks may be helpful in some outdoor environments where airflow is limited.

As for the changing guidance on eggs, aspirin, et al., I think the cause is that researchers frequently have to rely on observational studies because it is unethical to run the kind of experiments that would give definitive results.

Data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provide the strongest evidence for establishing relations between exposures, including dietary exposures, and health outcomes. However, not all diet and health outcome relations can be practically or ethically evaluated by using RCTs....

Limitations of Observational Evidence: Implications for Evidence-Based Dietary Recommendations

Bill's absolutely right about the Food Pyramid, though. That was more political than scientific. Good riddance.


Here are the latest Covid data. There is a difference in the hospitalization data for US versus NV. The CDC reports total number of Covid hospital admissions. Nevada reports current hospitalizations, not admissions.

All data comes from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#new-hospital-admissions), except for Nevada current hospitalizations (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/).


Totals Weekly Changes
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths  Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths 
 05/03/22   81,307,595   4,647,623   991,439   719,817   98   10,777   432,666   14,755   2,448   2,213   (6)   49 
 04/26/22   80,874,929   4,632,868   988,991   717,604   104   10,728   348,507   12,597   2,446   1,447   (22)   46 
 04/19/22   80,526,422   4,620,271   986,545   716,157   126   10,682   266,330   10,525   3,308   1,232   (37)   497 
 04/12/22   80,260,092   4,609,746   983,237   714,925   163   10,185   228,465   10,343   3,627   1,228   23   53 
 04/05/22   80,031,627   4,599,403   979,610   713,697   140   10,132   203,709   10,312   4,105   1,059   (52)   76 
 03/29/22   79,827,918   4,589,091   975,505   712,638   192   10,056   206,914   9,572   4,083   1,187   5   40 
 03/22/22   79,621,004   4,579,519   971,422   711,451   187   10,016   200,627   8,502   8,178   742   (71)   83 
 03/15/22   79,418,377   4,571,017   963,244   710,709   258   9,933   253,069   17,393   5,492   24,844   (20)   113 
 03/08/22   79,165,308   4,553,624   957,752   685,865   278   9,820   310,308   24,471   9,870   2,099   (101)   116 
 03/01/22   78,855,000   4,529,153   947,882   683,766   379   9,704   465,845   33,261   14,988   6,421   (189)   196 
 02/22/22   78,389,155   4,495,892   932,894   677,345   568   9,508   551,462   46,726   12,797   4,023   (297)   173 
 02/15/22   77,837,693   4,449,166   920,097   673,322   865   9,335   1,005,691   67,963   17,059   5,280   (375)   149 
 02/08/22   76,782,002   4,381,203   903,038   668,042   1,240   9,186   1,769,556   92,750   18,185   11,144   (387)   235 
 02/01/22   75,012,446   4,288,453   884,853   656,898   1,627   8,951   3,193,570   121,420   17,885   26,555   (344)   191 
 01/25/22   71,818,876   4,167,033   866,968   630,343   1,971   8,760   5,102,999   143,329   16,393   57,574   99   133 
 01/18/22   66,715,937   4,023,704   850,575   572,769   1,872   8,627   4,983,654   147,105   13,301   25,927   (1,787)   99 
 01/11/22   61,732,283   3,876,599   837,274   546,842   3,659   8,528   5,421,565   139,572   12,168   32,486   2,594   100 
 01/05/22   56,310,718   3,737,027   825,106   514,344   1,065   8,428   3,501,427   104,272   8,867   20,966   276   61 
 12/28/21   52,809,291   3,362,755   816,239   493,378   789   8,367   1,693,987   63,185   11,127   7,977   89   56 
 12/21   51,115,304   3,569,570   805,112   485,401   700   8,311   1,063,296   55,734   9,102   5,639   9   110 
 12/14   50,052,008   3,513,836   796,010   479,762   691   8,201   853,262   57,885   8,946   5,008   17   91 
 12/07   49,198,746   3,455,951   787,064   474,754   674   8,110   821,215   66,191   8,575   5,011   23   125 
 11/30   48,377,531   3,389,760   778,489   469,743   651   7,985   563,746   28,426   6,309   3,343   (50)   55 
 11/23   47,813,785   3,361,334   772,180   466,400   701   7,930   667,924   41,145   10,754   4,784   (24)   86 
 11/16   47,145,861   3,320,189   761,426   461,616   725   7,844   604,748   63,164   7,862   4,577   22   85 
 11/09   46,541,113   3,257,025   753,564   457,039   703   7,759   516,764   33,219   8,290   5,539   34   103 
 11/02   46,024,349   3,223,806   745,274   451,500   669   7,656   555,915   38,028   9,226   4,327   45   109 
 10/26   45,468,434   3,185,778   736,048   447,173   624   7,547   488,829   42,265   9,842   4,753   (87)   96 
 10/19   44,979,605   3,143,513   726,206   442,420   711   7,451   578,396   11,963   4,381   136 
 10/12   44,401,209   714,243   438,039   7,315   795,586   14,067   15,710   149 
 10/05   43,605,623   700,176   422,329   7,166   554,194   10,642   3,852   121 
 09/28   43,051,429   689,534   418,477   7,045   817,218   14,463   6,160   165 
 09/21   42,234,211   675,071   412,317   6,880   971,637   14,691   7,466   152 
 09/14   41,262,574   660,380   404,851   6,728   1,176,763   12,919   10,256   145 
 09/07   40,085,811   647,461   394,595   6,583   975,725   10,076   5,237   104 
 08/31   39,110,086   637,385   389,358   6,479   1,113,414   9,385   7,592   173 
 08/24   37,996,672   628,000   381,649   6,306   1,045,491   7,507   8,117   116 
 08/17   36,951,181   620,493   373,649   6,190   959,978   4,715   7,065   150 
 08/10   35,991,203   615,778   366,584   6,040   819,524   3,987   7,652   122 
 08/03   35,171,679   611,791   358,932   5,918   622,832   2,279   7,489   81 
 07/27   34,548,847   609,012   351,443   5,837   652,251   2,394   8,347   79 
 07/20   33,896,296   606,618   341,096   5,758   169,933   1,478   3,351   28 
 07/13   33,726,363   605,140   339,745   5,730   181,047   1,959   4,982   33 
 07/06   33,545,316   603,181   334,763   5,697   75,104   1,373   2,234   27 
 06/29   33,470,212   601,808   332,529   5,670   87,507   2,057   3,020   24 
 06/22   33,382,705   599,751   329,509   5,646   75,420   2,157   1,930   22 
 06/15   33,303,285   597,594   327,579   5,624   95,797   2,293   1,560   17 
 06/08   33,207,488   595,301   326,019   5,607   114,250   3,762   2,271   21 
 06/01   33,039,238   591,539   323,748   5,586   123,333   3,709   991   27 
 05/25   32,969,905   587,830   322,757   5,559   174,125   4,234   1,676   26 
 05/18   32,795,780   583,596   321,081   5,533   223,966   4,230   2,301   27 
 05/11   32,571,814   579,366   318,780   5,506   303,856   4,687   2,541   33 
 05/04   32,267,958   574,679   316,239   5,473   343,348   4,908   2,559   40 
 04/27   31,924,610   569,771   313,680   5,433   383,163   4,958   2,747   65 
 04/20   31,541,447   564,813   310,933   5,368   464,556   5,072   2,590   36 
 04/13   31,076,891   559,741   308,343   5,332   480,061   5,321   2,986   57 
 04/06   30,596,830   554,420   305,357   5,275   448,935   7,124   3,084   38 
 03/30   30,147,895   547,296   302,273   5,237   439,510   6,793   939   63 
 03/23   29,708,385   540,503   301,334   5,174   388,928   7,446   1,863   53 
 03/16   29,319,457   533,057   299,471   5,121   381,695   8,362   3,078   81 
 03/09   28,937,762   524,695   296,393   5,040   480,902   11,573   2,413   83 
 03/02   28,456,860   513,122   293,980   4,957   463,356   14,129   2,835   75 
 02/23   27,993,504   498,993   291,145   4,882   451,083   13,923   2,406   162 
 02/16   27,542,421   485,070   288,739   4,720   602,906   21,411   4,149   198 
 02/09   26,939,515   463,659   284,590   4,522   779,305   21,828   5,444   244 
 02/02   26,160,210   441,831   279,146   4,278   1,007,777   22,004   7,249   249 
 01/26   25,152,433   419,827   271,897   4,029   1,312,565   23,385   10,324   250 
 01/19   23,839,868   396,442   261,573   3,779   1,317,119   21,318   11,324   279 
 01/12   22,522,749   375,124   250,249   3,500   1,790,345   22,660   17,217   294 


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 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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