Slot machines are the most widely played games in American casinos. And naturally enough, the largest share of my emails from readers are about the slots.
New players and new readers come aboard all the time, so there are common themes to reader questions. One major one has to do with whether bigger bets affect your chances of winning, for better or worse.
Two related questions arrived one day apart:
"I have noticed lately when I bet the minimum I have won way more frequently than when I bet max on machine. For example, my favorite slot machine is Buffalo Gold and usually 75 to 80 percent of the time I bet the minimum bet and do very well, but I have noticed lately when I bet more than the minimum my win percentage decreases significantly.
Is the RNG programmed to hit more on minimum bet and less on maximum bet."
And the second:
"If I select five paylines, for instance, do the reels change in any way as I change the bet multiplier from 1 to 3 to 5 to 10, etc. I mean, is the game being changed at all, maybe by changing the number of stops on the reels or the number of any given symbols in the reels, or will the results of the next spin be exactly the same regardless of a change in the bet multiplier?"
Question No. 1 is one I've answered frequently over the years. The random number generator that determines what you see on the reels doesn't know how much you've wagered. It just goes on generating random numbers.
Your wager size doesn't change the random numbers or the probability of winning combinations landing on the payline. Streaks happen, both good and bad with big bets and small, but the probability of seeing winning combinations on any given machine is the same regardless of how much you bet.
Question No. 2 puts a little different spin on the question, but slots don't change the assignment of random numbers to make some symbols come up more often when you bet more, or some symbols to come up with.
There are ways to accomplish what the reader suggests, but they are not permitted by regulators. One would be to use the same set of random numbers with large bets as with small, and change the way the numbers are mapped. For example, if you bet one coin per payline, random No. 1 could be assigned to a low-paying 10 if you bet one coin per line but a high-paying jackpot symbol if you bet five per line.
Another way would be to change the set of numbers the RNG has to work with. Imagine the RNG works with 1,000 numbers when you bet one coin.
Now imagine you bet five coins, that the RNG works with 800 numbers instead, and that the 200 numbers that have been eliminated all had been mapped onto low-paying symbols. The result would be more higher-paying combinations.
Either could be done, but both are illegal within any one game in U.S. gaming jurisdictions.
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If you change games in a multi-game machine or change machines, it's a different matter. Games with higher coin denominations tend to have higher payback percentages than those at lower denominations. If you move from a penny version of a game to a nickel version of the same game, they may work with different random number sets or have the numbers mapped differently.
But if you stay at the same game, betting more or less does not change the probability of landing winners on the reels.
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