One of the most frequent questions I get asked by slot machine players is, “Should I play max credits?”
Years ago, anybody that had any knowledge about slot machines knew that you always play the maximum number of credits or coins. It was similar to video poker where you should never play without betting max coins because if you do, you won’t qualify for the bonus when you hit the royal flush. If you can’t afford to play max coins then you need to drop down in the denomination you are playing. In other words, if you can’t afford to play 5 credits on the dollar machine ($5 per spin) drop down to the 50 cent machine so you can play 5 credits ($2.50 per spin). This advice held true for slots as well because almost all slots offered a jackpot bonus.
Let’s first take a look at why that advice was so important. If you didn’t play the maximum coins on those machines you did not qualify for the bonus the machine gave you for the jackpot. By not playing max coins you were not receiving the maximum payback percentage from that machine. As I’ve talked about in the past, every slot machine is set to payback a certain percentage of the money it takes in. This percentage is set over a long period of time so it doesn’t mean that if you put in $100 on a machine that has an 88% payback, you would win $88. That wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense and wouldn’t be much fun. It is set for the long-term, but the casino is guaranteed to make money over the long haul on that machine.
By not betting max coins, you are lowering the payback percentage even more. Some slots have a low set payback percentage so you certainly don’t want to do anything to make it even worse. The best example is the large progressive Megabucks slot machine that I’ve posted about before. You should be shot if you are playing that machine without playing max credits. That slot machine already has a low payback, usually between 85-88%, and by not qualifying for the jackpot that payback is lowered even more. Not only that, but if you ever did hit the jackpot not playing max credits, you would probably want to jump off a bridge. NEVER play these games without max credits bet.
A common mistake that many people succumb to is when they are down to their last credits. Say they are playing a $1 Megabucks machine that requires three credits to qualify for the jackpot. They might put in $100 and when they get down to only $2 left, instead of going through the hassle of cashing out $2 or having to put in another $1 they go ahead and spin the reels with only 2 credits bet. DON”T DO IT. I’m saving you a life of psychiatric counseling if you ever hit the jackpot in this situation.
With the introduction of video slots things have changed dramatically. This advice is no longer viable for many machines. In fact, you want to do the opposite for any machine that doesn’t have a bonus jackpot. As a player you are better off playing one credit on a dollar denomination machine than 4 credits on a 25 cent machine. The reason is the higher denomination machines are usually set at a higher payback percentage. In essence, the proper play on slot machines has reversed. However, there are some video slots that do offer large progressive jackpots or bonus jackpots so for those machines the old rule holds true. Always play maximum coins on those machines or play another machine.
The bottom line is as a gambler you need to understand what you are playing. I know it’s fun to put money in a machine you’ve never played before and just hope for beginners luck, but if you do that on the wrong machine and realize you could have won the million dollar jackpot, you will never forgive yourself.
When this does happen people try to comfort themselves with the notion that the machine only let them hit the jackpot because they weren’t betting max credits. They tell themselves it would not have hit if they were betting maximum credits. That’s completely false. The RNG has no idea how many credits you play, and the RNG sequence for the jackpot is the same no matter how many credits you play. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to anyone this has happened to, but as long as the machine uses a RNG it’s true.