Slot Machines

Slot machines have changed a lot over the years. Slots used to be simple reel machines with a coin slot that gamblers put one or more coins into then pulled the handle. If reels aligned correctly, the winning coins or tokens were dispensed into the coin tray below.

The older machines were pretty easy to cheat and it didn’t take long for cheaters to figure out how to get the reels to line up for illegal payouts. Most of the thieves got caught but not before casinos lost millions.

Today’s video slot machines are much more sophisticated and cheat-proof. They also don’t have actual reels spinning inside; they are more on the order of computer video games.

Slot machines come in denominations from one cent to $500, $1000, and more. The larger denomination machines are usually only in the high limit areas where high rollers can gamble in comfort.

If you’re looking for the older three reel coin in slot machines you’ll need to visit older casinos since the newer casinos have replaced the reel/coin machines with coin-less slot machines that accept bills or cash-out vouchers only.

Some of the old favorite reel slot machines have been redone as video slots but not always with the same results for a winning spin.

The Wheel of Fortune slot machine, based on the TV game, is one of the most popular casino games. In reel/coin versions, maximum coins have to be bet in order to “spin the wheel” if the wheel symbol shows up on the pay line.

Today’s video slot versions include progressive jackpots which will only be paid if the maximum credits are bet.

So what denomination machine should you play? It depends on what you’ve budgeted for your visit.

Many people play the penny and nickel machines in the belief they won’t lose as much money. The reality is that if you play the maximum amount on a penny video slot machine you could be betting a lot more than if you were playing the maximum three quarter bet on a Triple 7’s machine.

Let’s consider a penny machine with 150 pay lines. In order to win regardless of which pay line the winning symbols line up on, you must play all 150 lines. That’s a minimum bet of $1.50 per game.

If you want to win the jackpot, which is based on the maximum bet, you may have to play 5, 10, or 20 credits per line. Now you’re gambling $7.50, $15.00, or $30 per spin! Even if the jackpot you hope to win is several thousand dollars, it won’t take long at maximum play for you to go broke.

The same goes for all machines that appear to be small bets. Two cents times 150 lines is $3. Bet the maximum of 10 credits per line and you’ve made a $30 bet. If the maximum is 20 credits per line you’ve bet $60 per spin!

Pay attention to the number of lines and the bet per line amount before you decide to play a machine. Some machines have several hundred different pay lines.

It doesn’t get any better when playing nickels, dimes, or quarters on slot machines with multiple pay lines. Unless you have unlimited wealth to gamble away, play the maximum lines but the minimum number of credits per line.

I watched a man play a video slot machine with 456 pay lines. He was playing 100 lines and five credits per line which made his bet $5 per game. He said his wife wished he would play just one credit on all 456 pay lines for a $4.56 bet. I nodded my head and said I had to agree with her since there were 356 pay lines he wouldn’t win on.

Most of the people who play just a few credits per line seem to win more than I do playing the maximum per line. I don’t know if machines pay out more for lower wagers (they’re not supposed to) or if playing smaller amounts means they can play longer because they’re losing less each play.

If you’re betting less than the maximum credits for the particular machine you’re playing, don’t expect to win the jackpot amounts shown on the machine. Somewhere, in small print, will be “for maximum credits bet” or similar wording.

If a jackpot combination comes up with less than a maximum bet the player will be paid a percentage of the jackpot shown. On a progressive jackpot the jackpot returns to the starting amount only when a maximum bet is paid.

There are machines I will never play just one or two credits in and those are the ones tied to mega or progressive payouts. These huge jackpots are the result of machines being linked together within the casino or linked with machines in other casinos. A portion of the money played in all linked machines goes toward building the progressive or mega jackpot.

Odds of actually hitting the jackpot are extremely small but it makes no sense to put in one quarter when three quarters have the potential of winning several million dollars.

I was in a Las Vegas casino several years ago when a man put a quarter into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine and hit the jackpot for $10,000. It wasn’t a bad win but if he had played two more quarters he and his friend (who was in town for a business conference) would have split the $8 million progressive jackpot.

When the two men first got to Las Vegas they agreed to split their gambling wins and losses. I have often wondered if they’re still friends.

Updated three reel slot machines, such as the Sizzling 7’s machine, are still very popular and certainly not as confusing as most of the newer video slot games.

However, even if the machines are simpler in display, you still have to pay attention to the payouts.

A basic three reel slot machine will typically accept one to five credits and have a payout for specific symbols that show up on the pay line.

The Wild Cherry slot machine will pay if the cherry symbol shows up anywhere on the display, either on, over, or under the pay line. Other machines pay differently for the amount of coins in, for example, specific payouts for two credits played, and different and higher payouts for the third credit played.

I rarely play regular slots preferring some of the penny and two cent video slots instead. But, occasionally, if a slot machine “calls to me” I will play a few dollars in it.

More than once I haven’t paid attention before hitting the spin button and have lost a good payout. For example, on Sizzling 7’s machines, three 7’s are a win only if two or three credits are bet.

Recently I played one credit and three 7’s lined up on the pay line. With a two credit bet I would have received 150 credits. With a three credit bet I would have received 300 credits. With my one credit bet I got nothing.

Take the time to look at the machine you’re putting money into before making the first play. Don’t play the wrong amount of credits and wonder why you haven’t won a jackpot when winning symbols line up.

From Casino Gambling Guide for Little Old Ladies. © Copyright Pat Gaudette.

Gambling should always be fun regardless of your age. When it isn’t fun, don’t!

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