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By John Grochowski on Monday October 15, 2018
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I’ve often told slot machine players that when they play pick’em bonus rounds, their choices make a real difference.
If you choose an icon hiding a big prize, you’ll get the big prize. The machine doesn’t decide you should get a lower award and change the hidden value. As long as all potential prizes are displayed at the end of the round, you can be confident your win is not pre-determined.
Often, readers ask how that is possible. One recently asked, “There’s a programmed payback percentage, right? How can they do that if they don’t know how much the bonus is going to pay?”
Programmers can deal in expected averages to solve that problem. The amount of any one bonus is unknown, but the odds of the game will drive it toward a known average.
To make up a simple example, imagine a bonus round in which you’re presented with five choices. A, B, C, D and E. Each time the bonus is played, you could win 10, 20, 50, 75 or 500 credits. Which letter hides which prize amount is randomly generated each time the bonus is played, and which you win depends on your choice.
On any given play, you could win any of the bonuses. You could be disappointed with the 10-credit prize, thrilled with the 500-credit bonanza or get something in between.
Over thousands of plays and thousands of blind choices, each prize will be picked about the same number of times. In our hypothetical example, the average pay per bonus will be 115 credits, and that average result can be folded into calculations for the expected payback percentage.
Many pick’em rounds have more choices. The classic Jackpot Party has dozens of gift boxes gyrating as they hide credits or Poopers. Some have multiple levels in which a lucky pick takes you to another bonus. The math gets more complex, but the programmer still can count on the odds of the game leading to an average result on the bonuses, and that can be used in calculating the overall payback percentage.