A Penny (Machine) For Your Thoughts

Something to give consideration to is the fact that penny slots typically require a larger bet per spin to reach max bet than do traditional reel slots. Think about it, if you’re playing a quarter slot machine, you will typically be required to play either two or three coins per spin for max credit. So for each spin, you’re paying between .50 and .75 cents. Whereas, with penny slots, you might be playing the full 30 lines but you can bet between one credit per line, up to 5 or 10 credits per line. Wow, do that math! 30 lines multiplied by 10 credits per line is $3.00 per spin!

Now to make matters worse, penny slots are notorious for having low payback percentages—somewhere in the 94% range. Compare that to a typical quarter, three reel machine with has a 98% payback. Think that 4% edge doesn’t make much of a difference? If you played $100 through the machine, you can expect IN THE LONG TERM to get back either $94 or $98 from the slot (be it penny or quarter) machine. Well, on that point, how much would you rather receive back? But you also need to factor in the amount of time it takes to play through $100 at .50/.75 per spin versus $3.00 per spin. You’re going to play that $100 through a lot faster at $3.00 per spin as opposed to .50 cents per spin.

So, not only is the hold higher on the penny slots (6% hold) but to play max bet, you’re spending six times as much money on each spin ($3 v. 50 cents). To be clear, I’m not dogging penny slots. First, if you have the money to spend, I’m not going to judge or chastise you for how you gamble. But I do realize that to hit those huge jackpot amounts, you do have to be playing max bet. Second, if you’re going to play the penny slots, you should be doing so for the theme of the slot and the bonus rounds.

What do I mean by theme? I really enjoy the penny slots based on movies and television shows. I’m a sucker for anything with theme and bonus round. A few examples are the Wizard of Oz, LOTR, Star Trek/War, Batman themed machine and the Hee Haw, Match Game, Love Boat, Addams Family themed slots. I loved those movies/shows and so it’s fun to play them as a slot machine. They’re entertaining. But every once and a while, you hit a bonus where the slot machine becomes a game within a game. You can select this prize to move on, you can pick that option to earn more credits, and so forth. You only need to pick the right prize and you can have a really nice payday. I remember the first time I ever played the Wizard of Oz machine I won $100+ and wasn’t really sure how/why. Likewise, my wife won a couple of the SATC bonus rounds and she was hooked.

You do, however, need to appreciate that the penny slots are a poor payback machine and won that should occur only if the stars align. But if you don’t mind the heavy hold and can find a machine which entertains you, pay your little heart out!

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About tony

Tony is a solo practice attorney in Mid-Michigan with an emphasis on Estate Planning, Criminal Defense and Business Law. He also enjoys Davidoff cigars, Las Vegas and Bacardi rum.