PLEASE explain Vegas slots to me someone! (dumbass alert!)


Newbie member
Jun 1, 2021
Dear Anyone.

Have posted this on other forums but I think people are so used to KNOWING these answers, they think I'm spamming or something cos nobody ever tells me. I'm not spamming, this is a serious bunch of questions from someone who wants to know what he's watching on YouTube streams, and is thinking of going to Vegas...

Hokay. Pretend I've got a hypothetical 20-line bandit in front of me.

1.) If the denom's 1c, wouldn't that make max. bet 20c? If not, WHY not!?! (I've seen people playing 1c denom slots and I'm sure their credits are going down in big bunches, which either means LOADS of 1c winlines or something's happening I don't understand. Prob. the latter!)

2.) What's the difference between - again for argument's sake cos I don't know what I'm talking about - $10 a spin in nickels and $10 a spin in dimes? It's still $10 a spin! Is one more winlines than the other?

3.) If this fictional bandit's a Dragon Cash/Lightning Link type thingy, it's got all these balls on it with huge numbers like 2500 on. They fill up the screen and the player goes 'Ooh. Nice little hit, three hundred bucks.') I don't see how those huge numbers get converted into what seems so much smaller an amount.

4.) Please, what's 'X'? In math, X is the Unknown Amount you're Trying to Find, right? ('Find the value of X' in algebra questions.) So what's this Unknown Value in slot terms, I flat don't get it. People say 'I've won 200 X...' or whatever - but I don't see what the X is or how they know what the X is. If it's the Unknown Amount, how do they know what it is?

And finally - percentages. This one REALLY bugs me. If you've got a random slot, you can't have a percentage on it because it's random. Being random, it could happily pay out 300% one month and 1% the next month (which I suppose is what's meant by 'volatility', right?) If you've got a percentage you need to hit, and can set, that's compensated. If it wasn't compensated, it wouldn't always hit its target by virtue of its randomness. So how come Vegas slots are called random, yet have percentages? And where do progressives come into these percentages? I mean in theory I could have a machine that only ever paid out in pennies, had a progressive of a million bucks and say when the million bucks dropped, that would make up the percentage on all the penny payouts! Is that why the progressives are there, so the slots don't have to pay out in the short term?

BTW - and this IS just me nit-picking - computers can't generate random numbers. At some point they'll always repeat themselves, that's how they work, and you can Google that. So WTF are these supposed 'random number generators?' They're an oxymoron, surely!?!

This being a great place for betting, I'm betting nobody answers this bunch of questions here either. But you'd sure be making a possible Vegas traveller happy if you did!

Yours puzzledly

Hi ulrichburke,

1) whilst the line bet on these are 1c it is possible to bet many times your stake for each line. Hence the max bet is often many multiples above the line x stake (ie 20c for 20 lines). Penny slots in Vegas have become a bit of a farce to be honest as these were always the slots for the smaller bankroll player but now have max bets often $5 and above. That tied to the fact you often cannot win the progressives if you don’t max bet makes them not so great. Which leads me onto….

2) generally each denomination of coin has a different theoretical payback. The bigger your unit stake the better your odds for winning. If you bet penny slots even at say $10, you are almost certainly getting worse odds than if you bet $10 on a dollar slot. Either way you are going to lose in the long run, just quicker on the penny slots at the same amount. The idea of penny slots is that you can still bet 20c to $1 amounts which you can’t really do on bigger unit bets. Odds will be worse but you’ll still lose your money slower.

3) numbers relate to the number of coins (unit bets), so 2500 on a 1c game is simply 2500 pennies or $25. Similarly if that came up on a quarter machine you’d have won 2500 quarters or $625.

4) ah, percentage, or RTP (return to player) or TRTP (theoretical return to player). Despite slots being random they are built to a certain pay structure. Say, for example, you flip a coin. You know realistically that the odds of heads or tails is 50/50. Now the way the casino would determine how much TRTP you’d get is simply to decide how much you’d win on a correct guess. If you get double your money for a correct guess it would effectively be a break even game. Over the long term you’d expect to see equal number of wins, $2 return for $1 bet for example, and loses, lose your $1.

Basically the casino effectively gives you less than that back for its edge. Same applies to slots. The pay table is geared to generate a house edge, which on penny slots is often at least 10%, certainly for most of the strip in Vegas. So for all the possible combinations of wins on a slot the total money back would be 10% less than what was put in. As there are often millions of combinations these maths models are generally based over millions of spins so you will see potentially wild swings from month to month, and year to year depending on the volatility of the game you are playing.

Finally, as for the Random number generator, yes, no computer is truly random (is anything truly random?, theory for another day!). There have been cases in the past where players have been able to detect a pattern and have won significant amount of money as a result. These days the slots will generally get “seeds” from sources outside the slot itself in order to refresh its random numbers so whilst there will still be potential patterns this, along with the sheer volume of numbers generated every second, means that the slots are as good as random. You are equally likely, or more realistically unlikely, to win a jackpot as the person who sat down before you irrespective of what they did or didn’t win.
Dear The Reel Story and Siohmy.

Thank you both very much indeed for your great answers, which have really sorted my head out about what's going on with those things!

Regarding volatility/percentages, there's an almost unbelievable clip on an NG Slots video on YouTube of some guy - not NG, he just happened to be passing - winning I think it was EIGHTY EIGHT THOUSAND BUCKS!!!! On one of the machines, how the heck were they gonna handpay THAT out (semi-rhetorical question!) THINK it was Buffalo Gold or similar, he definitely had a full screen of horned beasties and trees with multipliers going on, anyway. Thing that shocked me though was I'd've been in fits and having heart attacks all over the casino, this guy was just looking at the numbers clocking up and nodding thoughtfully with 'Bout time I gotta BIT back you bar steward!!' written all over him - how much must he have been putting IN those things!?!

On a much, much, much smaller level - I'm in the U.K. - there's little casinos all over the place here. Max. jackpot £500 on anything, but there's loads with £100 jackpots and £25-35 jackpots, which I stick to as I like having a wallet with something in it! Had the run of my recent existence there last night, on the above jackpots - went up to one and pulled five £25 jackpots out, went up to the next and got another 3, left winning £300 for about £10! OK, I know that's small fry stuff but it still felt good! There's people in there though who put HUNDREDS in machines with only a £25 or £100 jackpot. What's the point? You're never gonna win that back with those jackpots, why not just try a tenner, make it last, leave when it's gone?

As far as these YouTube streamers go, I respect Brian Christopher the most - OK he does silly stakes sometimes but on the whole he knows when to run from a slot which the NGs and Bombas of this world don't seem to (OK - and the ulrichburkes, like the one writing this, sometimes - ahem! -)

Just to finish off this bit of woffle, till they noticed and changed the program there was a LOVELY poker game you could win loads on. You got a hi-lo gamble when you got a win, touched a card to see if it was higher or lower than the last. A LOT of them had marked backs! Tiny differences in the patterns and you could learn them. If the marked cards were coming up you could get £70 every time you got any kind of win! Was happily making loads till they changed the program!

Oh well. Thanks for your lovely answers, both of you. I actually understand what I'm watching now!

Yours respectfully


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