Reading Between the Lines
Get maximum bang for your buck by playing the right number of lines
By Bill Burton
As the number of coins needed for maximum bets increased, it was only logical that the denomination would have to be lowered if the casinos expected to get much action from the average player.
When I first started visiting the casinos, playing a slot machine involved a fairly simple decision. The slot machines were reel-type machines, and you had the choice of playing quarter or dollar machines. Then, when you sat down at the machine, you could choose to play one to three coins per spin. It was easy to calculate which denomination to play and how many coins to play per spin, based on the amount of money you had to play with for your playing session.
Decisions became a little harder around the turn of the century with the introduction of the multi-line, multi-coin video slot machines. Aristocrat Leisure from Australia was one of the first companies to introduce these types of machines. More slot makers started offering multi line/coin machines. As the popularity of these machines grew, the slot makers tried to outdo each other with more elaborate designs. More pay lines were added, and more coins could be bet on each line.
As the number of coins needed for maximum bets increased, it was only logical that the denomination would have to be lowered if the casinos expected to get much action from the average player. Playing a machine with nine pay lines that accepted five coins per line would cost the quarter player $11.25 per spin.
This led to the mass introduction of the nickel slot machines. A 45-coin bet on nickel machine would cost a player $2.25 per spin. The casinos found out that many players were willing to increase their bets on the nickel machines, because in their minds, they were still playing nickels. A player used to playing two or three coins in a quarter slot machine would not hesitate to sit down and play one coin per line on a nine-line machine for forty-five cents. Many will increase the number of coins bet per line after a winning spin. These same players would not think of switching over to a dollar machine after a winning spin, but with the push of a button they can up their bet without a second thought.
The success of the nickel machines prompted the slot makers to add even more lines and increase the number of coins that could be wagered on each line. Some of these games again became too expensive for the average player to play maximum coins, even at the nickel level. The next logical step was to drop the denomination down again to the penny denomination.
Around 2004, penny slot machines started appearing on the casino floors. In the last few years, the majority of new slot machines added to casinos floors have been the penny denomination machines. The number of pay lines vary on the machines from nine to 200, or even more. You can wager one to 150 coins per line. There really is no standard number of lines on these new slot machines. Each game is different, even if they are made by the same manufacturer.
How Many Lines?
At some point you have to wonder how many lines are enough. With each additional line that you play, you increase your chances of lining up the right combination of symbols to give you a “winning spin,” but this does not necessarily mean that you will earn a monetary win.
One thing that makes the new machines so popular is the excitement of the high hit frequency. Because there are more lines on which the symbols can appear, there are more chances of hitting a winning combination. The hit frequency will be higher, although sometimes a “win” will be less than the coins you played for that spin. Many times, your initial wager is more than you will collect for a winning spin. If you are wagering 25 credits per spin but only get five or ten back for a winning spin, it won’t take long for the machine to eat up your credits.
Most of us realize that we’ll never get rich playing the nickel or penny slot machines, so our main objective is to get the most enjoyment out of playing the games and to make our playing time last as long as possible.
Unless you are playing a progressive machine, there is no reason to play the maximum coins on every available line. If you choose to play all of the lines without trying for the progressive jackpot, then you should play a single credit on each line. There really is no point in playing any number of credits between a single credit and the maximum (such as two or three credits per line).
Ideally, you should search for a machine that offers the maximum number of pay lines that you can afford to play. If you find a game you really want to play that has more pay lines than you’re comfortable with, you can simply reduce the number of lines that you wager on. Take a look at the pay table in the help screen and look for the minimum pay out for a winning spin. If the minimum is five credits, you can reduce the number of lines you play to five. This will guarantee that you will break even if you have a winning spin.
When you play the slots, you want to get the most entertainment as possible for your money. Playing the minimum, or reducing the number of lines, can help you achieve this.
Until next time, remember: Luck comes and goes, but knowledge stays forever.