Slot Machines & Standalone Progressives

I hope I’m using the term “wongable” correctly. It means there’s a point in gambling, usually referring to blackjack card counting, where it is a good idea to play a game with a higher EV according to certain rules or progressions in the game.

With slot machines, no matter what someone tells you, slot machines “hit-ability” cannot not be determined due to the Random Number Generator. But, in blackjack, deep penetration of the shoe causes the EV to rise in favor of the player, especially card counters.

With slots, we play without the sure knowledge of its pay out percentage.  It would be great if we could, especially with progressive slots.

A progressive jackpot game is one in which the size of the top jackpot grows with every spin of the reels. Before choosing a progressive slot machine, players need to be aware of the fact that playing such a machine is not the same as playing other slots. A certain portion of every bet is accumulated to form the progressive jackpot. In standalone progressives, the jackpot point is reset at a certain amount once the jackpot is hit.

There are 3 kinds of progressive slots:

IGT’s Hot Shot is an example of a “Local” Progressive

  • Standalone progressives – A standalone progressive jackpot only grows when you play that individual machine.
  • Local area progressives – A local area progressive is networked with a group of other slot machines within the same casino. Play on any of those machines causes the jackpot for all those games to grow. If the jackpot is hit on any of those machines, the jackpot on all the machines resets to its starting point.
  • Wide area progressives – Wide area progressives are the games that are networked across multiple casinos. These are the games where the jackpots get high enough to compete with lottery games. The biggest example of a wide area progressive is Megabucks. The jackpot for this game starts at $10 million and grows until it’s hit. The jackpot has grown to over $30 million on at least 2 different occasions.


A standalone progressive slot machine has a jackpot ticker on the game, but only bets placed on that specific machine feed the jackpot. This was, at one time, the only kind of progressive slot machine game available, but most progressives feature multiple machines that are linked together. Still, so many standalone machines were manufactured that these games are still easily found in casinos throughout the world.

Quick Hit Slot Machine

The very popular “Quick Hit” Slot Machines can be standalone or hitched together in a group as a local progressive.

These days, standalone progressives can be found produced by all of the major slot machine makers. With any progressive slot, it’s important to understand that a percentage of all the money played into the machine is considered in the payoff. This means that the actual payback percentage will be less on the other winning symbols and in some case the payback percentage on the Progressive machines will be less than other machines in the casino.  The higher the progressive amount (as in wide area progressives), the lower the payout percentage.

For this reason, while standalone slots won’t usually pay that “life-changing” jackpot, they can also keep you in the game longer than larger progressive slots. As already explained above, a certain portion of every bet is accumulated to form the progressive jackpot.


So many people, when playing progressive slots, don’t want to be aware of that machine.  There are many differences in progressives.  For example, some (most Wide area progressives) machines need to have the maximum bet played to qualify for winning the progressive jackpot. In standalone progressives, the jackpots are possible at any wager, but there are exceptions.  You must read the machine’s info to know if you are wasting your money. It’s like playing video poker on 4 coins instead of 5.  By doing so, you take away the chance of the inflated Royal Flush payout and diminish the % by 2%.   A player is permitted to make any other bet than the maximum one, but on slots that only payout the progressive with MAX BET, this will bring them only a small part of the progressive jackpot.


The popular IGT “must hit by” feature on “Pirate Ship”

These machines reset at certain amount every time it’s hit.  It then begins to slowly build to a set point, chosen by a second RNG (thanks to John Grochowski for that info).  It may go all the way to the “must hit by” point or hit anywhere in between.  On these machines, max bet is not needed, but a larger bet will make the amount grow quicker.

But how much quicker?  Here’s my suggestion – If it’s close, to the “must hit by” amount,  jump on it.  But when I say close, I mean VERY close.  Here’s an illustration of how slowly the jackpot on these machines grow.


Ainsworth Rumble Rumble Progressive Slot Machine

Ainsworth Rumble Rumble Progressive Slot Machine

One summer, my wife and I stayed and played at Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.  There was an Ainsworth “Rumble, Rumble” standalone progressive penny machine – lowest bet was 50 cents, highest $2.50.  It had to hit by $500 and when I sat down, it was at $491!  So I played, and I played – for two days it seemed I was the only one playing.  It reached $495, $497, still didn’t hit.  We figured out that every $5 in caused to Jackpot to move 1 PENNY!!!!  That’s right, ONE CENT!!!!  It hit after $498.  I had lots of good play at $1 & $2 a pull – I still lost money, but not much for two days of play.

Moral of the story – don’t expect it to hit, and if you are in it for the jackpot, make sure you have a large bankroll and you are already close to the Jackpot.  These Jackpots don’t grow quickly, but can hit on any wager.

As you walk around the casinos, see if you can spy these standalone progressive slots and compare the jackpots.  It not only is smart when playing these type of progressive machines, but it may dictate how smart of a wager you will bet.

That’s all for now.



Slot Machines – When to Play Max Bet

The First 3 reel slot machine

The First 3 reel slot machine

One of the most debated topics regarding slot machines, and video poker, concerns max bet, specifically when should I hit that bet max button. Max Bet or Maximum Bet is the highest amount of coins or credits you can play in a single spin.

Max Bet Slot ButtonsThe answer to the question depends on the machine being played. When it comes to slots, you have to know the machine that you are playing. It’s simple, really, if you know the pay out structure of the machine.  If Max Bet gives you a higher pay out other than just the 2x, 3x, 4x, etc. of the original bet, you bet Max Bet – and if that total bet is too high for your bankroll, move on to another similar machine with a payout that suits your it.

A word of caution – many of the same type of slot machine – can include payoffs of all the kinds listed below.  Your job is to check the machine for what kind it is.  I repeat – READ THE MACHINE.

Here’s the break down of different versions of slot machines that you should, OR should not be betting Max Bet, using different machines to illustrate.


Many slot machines, video and classic reels, pay out a straight multiplier.  In other words, playing $1 will pay the same on all other bets x (times) the number of coins. In other words, if you are playing a game where all of the jackpots are in proportion then it is totally up to you whether you bet max. NETG ADVICE: Playing Max Bet is not necessary.  Play the denomination comfy for you.


Notice the three Payouts.

Notice the three Payouts.

Classic slots are the original version and are still popular today.  Some examples include Double Diamonds, Red, White & Blue, and Blazing 7’s. You might have a game that pays 1,000 for one coin, 2,000 for two coins and 5,000 for the max of three coins. In this case you get an additional 3,000 coins for just one extra coin bet. NETG ADVICE: Play Max Bet or drop down in denomination to be able to play Max according to your bankroll. 

“BUY A PAY” Slot Machines

Three different pays for 1, 2, or 3 coins.

Three different pays for 1, 2, or 3 coins.

There is one type of classic slots that require max bet. These games are known as “buy a pay.” Quite simply they have two or three different pay tables. Each coin activates an additional pay table. Mostly Classic reals have this variation, like Red, White & Blue. If you play less than max bet you cannot win any of the top prizes even if you hit the right symbols. NETG ADVICE: Play Max Bet or drop down in denomination to be able to play Max according to your bankroll. 


Wheel of Fortune Slot
There is one type of slot machine that makes playing max bet an absolute must – games with a progressive jackpot. Almost all progressives require that you bet the maximum number of coins to qualify for the top jackpot. If you play less than max you cannot win the top jackpot. Probably, the most famous brand from IGT is “Wheel of Fortune.” NETG doesn’t recommend playing progressives unless you intend to play max. You are much better off going for a non progressive slot. This is because you can hit the top winning combo and in some cases get nothing because you are a few coins short, or just a fraction of the main progressive jackpot.  NETG ADVICE: Play Max Bet, period.    

Quick Hit Slot Machine

Quick Hit Slot Machine

Some progressive slots, like the many versions of “Quick Hit” slots, come in many size max bets, from $1.50 to $5.00 on a penny machine.  Again, read the machine – play to your bankroll.



Hot Shot Slots. 5 Progressive slots within the slot machine, but must play max bet to get access to progressive Jackpots.

On bonus game slots,  like “Hot Shot,” you will be required to play max to win the jackpot and in some cases, like say “Cashman,” you will not have to. NETG ADVICE: Before playing any bonus game slot be sure to read the pay table to find out if max bet is required.Mr. Cashman Slot Machine




Some slot machines increase either the type or number of important bonus or wild symbols.  For example, some of Ainsworth Gaming’s slots give a better chance for matching bonus symbols for the free game bonus.  The more coins played, the more matching bonus/progressive symbols appear.  NETG ADVICE: Playing Max Bet is not necessary.  Play the denomination comfy for you.

FINAL NOTE – whatever the slot machine, always play maximum lines, whether it be 1, 3, 5……or 50.  Different from Max Bet, it optimizes your play by covering all possibilities at whatever number of coins you decide to play.

I hope this has been helpful.  The bottom line is you can’t blindly play any old slot machine.  Some machines, such as “Gazellions” by Aristocrat, continues to add the number of possible free games until hit.  If the high number of games are on the top two of four screens, playing only $.50 to get the super bonus might be your best play.Slot

Bottom Line – Read the machine’s Pay Table and Bonus features, and know if not betting MAX is going to diminish your payouts by not being eligible for the jackpot, or bonus payouts.

Hope this was helpful.


Twin River Casino Trip Report – Follow Up & Fan Feed-Back

Twin River Casino

Twin River Casino

Earlier this week, as NEGT’s RI correspondent, Rhode Island Correspondent Miguel gave a trip report after an outing at Twin River and detailed 3 concerns for Twin River. The full post can be found here: “3 Concerns For Twin River Casino.” Here’s Miguel’s follow-up:

“One of the 3 items centered around a missed opportunity for Bin and Miguel to attend the Tequila and Rumdownload (1) festival due to a poor reservation process. In parallel to the post on NE Time Gambling, I also sent an email to Twin River’s “contact us” email to voice my displeasure with the experience. Within 36 hours (including Sunday), I received an email back from a manager in the Players Club.

She was quite apologetic regarding the mix up and clearly stated it shouldn’t have happened. While stating that “it shouldn’t happen again”, I was encouraged to ask for a supervisor or manager if I encountered a problem in the future, they would have the authority to make an exception. I was also offered two complimentary tickets to any of the upcoming concerts at Twin River’s Event Center.”

imagesSo in the end, yes it was frustrating. Yes, I missed out on an event that I was really looking forward t
o (Bin, too!). Yes, I still think Twin River needs to upgrade their system.

But after the issue, Twin River did what they could to follow up, acknowledge it, and make it better.
(See our recent post concerning Casino Loyalty.)

(Bin addition – Service is what makes us feel appreciated, and trying to make-up for mistakes made shows that they are grateful for our patronage, whether we are large or small players.  Great follow-up by Miguel and great response by Twin River. Now, back to Miguel….)

“I also wanted to take a moment and respond to Monika’s comments after the post.

First off – thank you for being a loyal follower of NE Time Gambling! Not knowing what the root of you unpleasant experiences were, I’d give Twin River a try again and see if any of the issues you’ve experienced have been addressed.

Twin River Casino. Larger than most people realize - two large casino floors

Twin River Casino. Larger than most people realize – two large casino floors

While we at NETG called out the need for TR to & upgrade, upgrade, and upgrade, these are just three things we’ve noticed and we have no indication that a change in software or customer loyalty procedures are actually on the road map for TR.  If we get word that improvements are coming, we’ll certainly pass that along ASAP.

As for the jackpot complaints – that’s the first I’ve ever heard of it. (Bin, too.)  I’ve never heard of nor seen anything like that while I’ve been on the property.  I’ve been lucky enough on occasion to win a few hand pay jackpots and have had nothing but pleasant experiences with the slot attendant. I would think that if that really was happening and patrons were legitimately winning jackpots and TR was not paying them – certainly someone would pull a local news channel into the story.  So I’d certainly hope that’s just a misunderstanding of specific circumstances.

The largest casino in the USA is Windstar

The largest casino in the USA is Windstar, in Oklahoma.

(An aside – William Thompson, who teaches public administration at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, is an expert in the gambling business. He said, “while slot machines can malfunction, causing jackpot not to be paid, the casinos owe it to their customers to pay them unless the player is cheating.” Basically, State regulatory commissions would definitely be watching for these things.  It does seem to happen on some tribal casinos, (Winstar, Malfunctioned’ win spurs Oklahoma casino questions  By BYRON HARRIS / WFAA ABC 8) since Tribal Council are usually the governing body on reservations as sovereign lands.  But state policies and gaming commissions should prevent unpaid jackpots)

Cashing out for now…Miguel”

Thanks, Miguel. AND Thanks again, Monika, for following us.  How about the rest of you – any questions or concerns you’ve had at New England Casinos?  Send us a comment, and our team can look into it.