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By John Grochowski on Monday August 16, 2010
A reader e-mailed me with her take on playing video slot machines.
“I like to cover all the lines, although I can’t afford to bet $3 or $5 at a time on a ‘penny’ slot machine. I can’t bet 25 coins a line, but sometimes I’ll bet five a line. On a penny machine with 20 lines, that means I’m betting a dollar a spin.
“If I can find the same game on nickels, though, I’ll move to the nickel game. Betting one coin on 20 lines on nickels is the same as five coins on 20 lines on pennies. Sometimes the same game that has 20 lines on pennies has only nine lines or 15 lines on nickels, and I adapt. But I figure that nickels pay more than pennies, and as long as I’m betting the same amount, I might as well take advantage of that.”
It is true that payback percentages usually increase with coin denomination. Quarter games return more of your money than nickels, and nickel games pay more than pennies. That isn’t the case on every game in every casino, but it’s a reasonable assumption for starters.
As long as you’re covering all the paylines and making sure you’re not decreasing your chances of going to a bonus event, there’s certainly no harm in betting the same amount on a higher denomination machine. Don’t increase your bets —- staying within your bankroll remains tip No. 1. But if you bet five coins per line on a penny video slot, you’re playing the percentages if you bet one coin per line on a nickel version of the same game instead.