Is winning less than the amount wagered really a win?

Over the past few years a technique used by slot machine manufactures to induce a positive response in players is manipulating win frequency. They are able to increase the frequency of wins by awarding a sum less than the amount bet. If you are a newer player this may not seem like a unique situation, but this is a fairly recent change to how slot machines pay out.

A win on a slot machine used to be just that, a win. That means players would receive more than their initial bet. At the very least they would receive an equal amount to their wager. Today things are different. Why is that?

Slot manufactures and programmers found that most players respond favorably to any type of win, regardless of the amount. The positive reinforcement of winning sounds and graphics makes a player believe they are doing well and eager to continue playing.

The long “dry spells” of past machines would turn some players off and they would become bored of playing. Slot makers found a solution to this problem, but what are the ramifications for players?

When a player is in the midst of the game it’s quite easy to get caught up believing that partial wins are actually wins. You hear slot players often comment, “Well at least I got to play for a while.” This fits perfectly into this mentality. Some players may realize they aren’t winning overall, but they feel it’s OK because at least they are winning some money.

There is a post that goes into greater detail on win frequency and volatility.

Penny Slots:

The advent of “penny” slots is another innovation that has manipulated the mindset of some players.  Penny slots have become the most popular slot machines and there are several reasons for this.

Manufacturers will tell you they are catering to a segment of the population that desires penny slots, and that is true there is a large group of people who want to play penny slots. What isn’t discussed are the benefits to their bottom line.

They realized that there were people that would not play slots because of the fear of losing money. Penny slots help to overcome this fear because, “It’s only a penny!” It’s almost as if they aren’t playing for any money at all.

There are a few problems with this line of thinking. First of all, penny slots are multi-line machines allowing players to bet hundreds of pennies at a time. We know that hundreds of pennies is equal to dollars. Even if a player begins by only betting one cent most soon become bored with this and slowly increase their bets. The manufactures and casinos know this. What began as a one penny bet soon turns into 10 cents then 50 cents and soon into dollars.

The other problem is the pay back on penny machines. They are usually some of the worst machines in the casino. The payback percentages are usually below 90% which means the casino is getting at least 10 cents of every dollar that is bet on these machines. That is a high percentage especially when you start to bet much more than one penny at a time.

The bottom line for slot players is to understand what is occurring. When you play a machine with a higher win frequency realize that most of the wins are not really wins at all. You are actually losing money even though you received a winning combination. Also, if you are playing penny slots realize that the pay back percentage is low. Therefore, if you are betting fifty pennies you are better off playing one credit on a fifty cent denomination machine because that machine will probably have a higher pay back percentage.

Slot machines are hard enough to win on, so don’t make it harder by not understanding how they operate. Learn the facts and it will go a long way in helping you have a more enjoyable experience because let’s face it everybody enjoys winning when it comes to slots.