John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A column on a woman’s attempt to beat slots by fooling the random number generator into thinking she was a big player drew several questions from readers.

Her theory was that making big bets early would establish her as a potential big player, and since casinos want to reward big players, she would get a better payback percentage. The fatal flaw for such systems is that the random number generator doesn’t know how much you’re betting. It just keeps generating numbers.

Four readers asked basically the same question as this one, received via Facebook: “Isn’t it true that a slot machine can have different payback percentages per number of credits bet?”

Payback percentages can vary according to bet size, although they usually don’t on video slots and usually do on three-reel slots. But that has nothing to do with the random number generator.

One way to give a higher payback percentage for bigger bets is to pay a disproportionately large jackpot. It’s a common format on three-reel slots such as Double Diamond, Five Times Pay, Red, White and Blue — in fact, it would be difficult to find a three-reel slot that doesn’t include a disproportionate jackpot jump.

Most slot payoffs are in proportion to wager size. On a three-reel game with one payline and a three-coin maximum bet, if a winning combination pays 10 coins with a one-coin wager, then it pays 20 if you bet two coins and 30 if you bet three coins.

The top jackpot payoffs usually are not proportionate. A jackpot might pay 1,000 for a one-coin bet and 2,000 for two, but leap to 5,000 for three. The payoffs will be different on different games, but the key is that jump with a max-coins wager. Because you get more when you bet more, the payback percentage rises when you bet the max.

Some early video slots were produced in a similar format, with max-coin bets required to be eligible for the top jackpot. That did not prove effective in attracting larger bets, partly because so many credits are involved in a max-bet on a multiline video slot.

Through all that, the RNG just keep generating numbers. It neither knows nor cares how much you’ve wagered. You keep seeing the same symbols in the same proportions.

A similar principal is at work with buy-a-pay games. Each coin wagered unlocks a set of potentially winning symbols. You could design a game where the first coin activated bar symbol, the second activated 7s and a third coin activated jackpot symbols.

Bally’s Blazing 7s is a classic example, where you had to bet the max in order to be eligible for the frequent-hit Blazing 7s jackpot — the game’s prime attraction.

On these games, you get a higher payback percentage with larger bets because there are more ways to win when you bet more. There’s no change in the numbers the RNG generates. You’re as likely to see three 7s on a payline when you bet one coin as when you bet the max. But when you bet one coin on our example of a buy-a-pay, those three 7s are not winners. You get a higher payback percentage because betting more turns losing combinations into winners.

As with the jackpot jump, this has been tried on video slots but has not caught on with video slot players.

In any event, the RNG has nothing to do with payoff differences for random bets. It just keeps generating numbers in the same manner regardless of whether your bets are big or small.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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