Posted by Mission146
May 09, 2016

Slot Machines Are Ever More Complicated

Have you ever longed for the days when slot machines were exquisitely simple; You had a single payline, you had perhaps six to eight symbols, and if the symbols lined up on said single line, you won something?

Yeah, me either, those machines suck!  

From an AP standpoint, the older-style machines (provided they have a Progressive) are the better machines because they are easier to deconstruct to determine whether or not the machine is positive, and if not, at what point it will be.  From the standpoint of someone who wants to sit down and kill some time playing slots, those machines are mind-numbing and might keep the average person's attention for about three minutes.  

I recently had the opportunity to watch some people play slot machines while I was waiting for a drawing to take place in my local casino.  While some people in other markets may already have seen a good many of the features I am about to discuss, they are relatively new to me, so I find them worthy of mention and dissection in terms of how, may we say, 'Crafty,' I think that they are.

Buy a Bonus

I forget the title of the slot machine upon which I observed someone playing, however, I noticed that there is a feature called, 'Buy a Bonus,' on the main screen of the machine in question and decided to take a look at what it does (I didn't actually play it) as soon as a machine opened up.

Essentially, there were three levels at which a person could, 'Buy,' Bonus Games, and as a result, this so-called, 'Penny Machine,' essentially has a single bet of $100 which is the, 'Best Value,' when it comes to buying Bonus Games.  As I recall, $100 got the player 100 Bonus Spins while there were options to spend $50 and $25 in order to also get certain amounts of Bonus Spins.

I would like to think that players would be crafty enough not to buy into a mechanism such as this, but I am probably wrong.  Basically, all a player is doing is pre-buying Spins on either the same reel assignment or a different reel assignment if Bonus Games operate on a different reel assignment on the machine in question.  In short, there is no way to know if this decision actually has a lesser Expected Loss than just playing the machine straight up without having access to the PAR Sheets or doing what would be an incredibly difficult Empirical analysis and deconstruction on a machine that has no Progressives, so I would never waste my time doing that anyway.  

In any case, in my opinion, Bonus Games cease to even be Bonus Games when one is buying one's way into them and, as far as I am concerned, the person is just paying $100 upfront for 100 spins on what is essentially its own game.  Unless this decision has a positive Expected Return, and I'm sure it doesn't, then buying these Bonus Games seems to make little to no sense.

With that said, some players might like the idea of just relaxing and watching the machine do its thing only having to buy more Bonus Games every few minutes.  It kind of reminds me of a feature that many Online Casinos have with their Keno Games (including Wizard's practice game) in which multiple draws can be purchased upfront, and I am actually rather surprised that Land Casinos do not have the ability to have the same mechanism on their Keno games.  

Mystery Bonuses

Mystery Bonuses are nothing new, but most of the ones I have seen essentially announce at the beginning of the Spin that one has gone to the Mystery Bonus.  Exceptions to this mechanism in which players hit the Mystery Bonus at the end appear on machines such as Cashman Tonight.  

In any event, I was observing a few people playing an entertaining-looking game called, 'Yardbirds,' and it seems that players can randomly go to something where they, 'Pick an Egg,' in which two eggs award a certain amount of Credits while one gets a player into the egg-picking Bonus or Free Games, depending on whatever is behind the egg at the time.  

The cool thing about this feature is that you don't know whether or not you hit the Mystery Bonus until the end of the spin, so at any point, the spin could yield a winning result.  That's a cool feature because, on most games, even the simplest-minded player might notice that he did not hit Free Games on the second reel (for example) and no symbols on the first and second reel match and there are no Scatters thereby making a win impossible.  These Mystery Bonuses should serve to keep players engaged throughout the entire spin.

Bonus Balance

This might be a paraphrase of what its called, and it has been around for awhile, but I figured I would include it in this Article.  There are some machines upon which, rather than go to Free Games when they are hit, a player can accept a win within a certain Minimum-Maximum range of credits and the game, starting with the last digit, simply scrolls through the digits until the number of credits won is displayed.

The range of credits can vary pretty wildly, and while it did not seem intuitive to me, I remember DRich saying at one point that going to the Bonus Games is generally the better option in terms of Expected Return.  Personally, I would want people to choose the Instant option because that means they are playing faster, choosing the Free Games increases time on device and would seem to decrease the amount the device makes per hour of play, in my view.  

There are any number of slot features out there and new ones are coming out every month.  I'm not much of a slot player and, if not playing a +EV machine, will usually only watch people play slots to kill time, besides, I'm always happy for them when they win.  If you know of any cool new slot features, please comment!


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