Welcome to Tech4Truth, Episode Three, with me, Mark Vincent, the certified slot technician.
If you haven’t seen my previous episodes, I would suggest you go ahead and view them now since each
episode builds on what I’ve already explained.
In my last episode, we learned that every spin of a slot machine is random, but the casino can control
how much money a slot machine returns to the players over time by using the virtual reels and the paytable.
This is called the payback, and it’s expressed in the form of a percentage. For instance, a slot machine with
a payback of 92% should be expected to give back 92% of the money it takes in over the course of its lifetime.
That’s the theoretical payback, or just theo for short. Because all the spins are random, however, the machine
isn’t always running at it’s theo percentage. Sometimes it can be higher or lower, depeding of it it’s just
paid out a big jackpot or if it hasn’t hit in a long time, and this percentage is called the actual percentage
because it’s what the machine is actually running at. Over time, both the theo and actual percentages will be
very close to each other because of the way the virtual reels and paytables are set up. It’s just like flipping
a coin. The chances of getting heads or tails when you flip it are 50/50, but if you flip it ten times, will
you get 5 heads and 5 tails? Maybe, but maybe not. The theoretical payback in this case would be 50%, but if
you got heads 7 times and tails 3 times, the actual percentage would be 70%. You chance of getting heads or
tails on the next flip, however, will always be the theoretical chances, or 50%.
Slot machine paybacks aren’t that simple because there are multiple combinations and a huge return on investment
when you hit something… with a coin flip you might double your money, but on a slot machine you can turn one dollar
in to ten thousand dollars if you hit… which makes hitting something that much less likely to happen. Someone will,
though, and eventually all the money won and lost will end up being around the theoretical payback of the machine.
You may have heard the term hold, instead of payback. Hold is simply the opposite of payback. If a machine has a 92%
payback then it has a 8% hold. The higher the payback and lower the hold of the machine, the more likely you’ll win when you play.
Typically in US casinos, paybacks range from about 80% on the low end to 99% on the high end. Generally the higher the denomination,
or value of one credit, the higher the payback. This means that quarter slots usually have a higher payback than nickel slots, and
dollar slots have higher payback than quarters. This isn’t always the case, but in general it does hold true. In my experience this
upward climb of payback percentage tops out at around the $5 machines, meaning that the greatest jumps are between nickel and quarter,
quarter and dollar, and dollar and five dollar. After that, payback doesn’t go up much, if at all. This means that a $100 machine may
not have a much better payback than a $5 machine, while that $5 machine will have an incredibly higher payback percentage than a quarter
machine of the same type.
Here are some rough estimates of what percentages go along with denominations. Remember that these are generalized, and each casino
has its own strategy and rules about how to setup machines.
Keep in mind that all this stuff can be pretty complicated, and my book goes into quite a bit of detail and gives examples of
everything I’ve discussed here in order to make it easier to understand. So we know that a 90% payback means the machine
will pay back about 90% to players over the course of its life. Here’s what a 90% payback doesn’t mean:
It doesn't mean that 90% of the people who play will win. The 90% isn't talking about spins, it's talking about cold hard cash.
If 99 people each put a dollar in the machine, and the 100th person walks up, puts in a dollar, and wins $90, then machine has a
90% payback. 90% of all the money put in the machine, in this case $90, was paid back eventually.
It doesn't mean that you'll get back 90% of what you put in. If you put in $90, don't win anything, and the next person walks
up and puts in $10, and wins $90... then the machine has a 90% payback.
It doesn't mean that 90% of the people who play will win. The 90% isn't talking about spins, it's talking about cold hard cash.
If 99 people each put a dollar in the machine, and the 100th person walks up, puts in a dollar, and wins $90, then machine has a
90% payback. 90% of all the money put in the machine, in this case $90, was paid back eventually.
It doesn’t mean that the machine has to give back $90 once it takes in $100. The outcomes are random so the machine really can't
dictate when it's going to give the money back.
The real bottom line, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, is that a higher payback machine is better, and those are the machines
you want to play. While a penny or nickel machine is fun and can let you play for longer, you sacrifice payback when you play them,
so my advice is to always play the highest denomination you’re comfortable with.
In my next video I’ll talk to you about the different types of machines, and how to play each one so you can make sure you’re not
making betting mistakes that destroy your chances of winning more. I’ll see you then, and until next time, thanks for watching… Tech4Truth.