Sep 10th 2007
Slot Machine Winning

Everyone knows that lower-denomination slot machine games pay back less than higher-denomination slot machines. The order of paybacks is something like this: dollar slot machine games have higher paybacks than quarter slot machines. Quarters have higher paybacks than nickel slot machines. Nickels have higher paybacks than penny slot machines.

You may be thinking that a high roller who takes a spin on the $25 or $100 slot machines is getting the highest payback of all, but the truth is that not every high-limit game is a high-payer, and not every low-denomination slot machine is a coin gobbler. And occasionally the math of the games, along with a statistical false impression or two, will give some odd-looking payback numbers.

I believe many of you have discovered many strange looking statistics, like, for example the one posted by, which get their info from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. I personally seen there listed $5 slots on the Boulder Strip at 95.4 percent while quarters return 96.31 percent. How can that be, you ask yourself now. How can quarter slot machines pay a better percentage than $5 slots?

I believe this is just a matter of how we interpret statistics. If we were dealing with reports from individual casinos, the cause could be sample size. Because five dollar slot machine games are played less than quarter slot machines, the payback percentages in a short time period can vary a lot. The effect of one big jackpot beyond average, or the shortfall of one jackpot, can move the percentages. Over a longer period with more play, the machines will come nearer their programmed percentages.

Now, I am not talking about this referring to only one casino, as I said before, I’m talking about the Las Vegas slot machines on the Boulder Strip. This is an area packed with a couple of dozen casinos on Boulder Highway in Las Vegas. All those casinos mainly appeal to local customers and their favorite games to play are quarter video poker machines.

Having video poker games so popular, you will see that in a Las Vegas local’s casino are more than half the electronic gaming machines are video poker machines, compared with around 15 % on the tourist-oriented Las Vegas Strip.

The ones preferring to play dollar slot machines have a lot of competition therefore pay tables on video poker games tend to be higher than those on the Strip tourists. And even there, on the tourist-oriented Las Vegas Strip, video poker generally has a higher payback percentage than slot machines. Also, when it comes to reporting payback percentages, video poker is not separated out from the reel-spinning and video slot machines, all being categorized under the same term of electronic gaming devices.

Even on the touristy Strip, video poker generally has a higher payback percentage than slot machines. And video poker is not separated out from the reel-spinning and video slots when it comes time to report payback percentages. They're all just lump together under the catch-all term "electronic gaming devices."

Now, let’s say that you pick to play Double Diamonds slots on the Boulder Strip. Here, the rule of thumb applies: higher-denomination games pay more than lower-denomination games. It may seem that quarter games pay more than $5 games on the Boulder Strip, but it is not so. Compare the pay tables for the best deal if you are a video poker player. In case you play on reel-spinners or video slot machines know that the idea of getting a higher payback on a lower denomination it is just an illusion. It is only a pay back statistic twisted by all that quarter video poker games.

Something to consider though is that although a higher-denomination slot machine usually pays a higher percentage, it also keeps more of your money, for example 4% of $5 means more money than 8% of a quarter slots machine. Also, a quarter slots machine that have a payback percentage of 92% will keep an average of 2 cents per credit wagered, and a $5 slot machine paying 96 % will keep an average of 20 cents per credit wagered.

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