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Did a machine short-pay a player?

20 August 2007

Some slot machines claim that when you hit for a combination, you win, for example, "200 x bet". But it just doesn't seem true.

A guy was playing a penny Lucky Larry Lobster at max (150 credits). John, five lighthouse symbols appeared so 200 x \$1.50 means he should have won \$300, right?. He was awarded only \$70. Why? Should he have called an attendant?

Pete

Dear Pete,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

You wouldn't believe how many different variations there are of Lucky Larry's Lobstermania! I think I found one the could have been the model that fellow was playing, but I wasn't able to get a pay table for it.

In any case, winning combinations on multi-line/multi-coin machines pay in one of two ways. One way is the way you described, times your total bet. The amount you win is some multiplier times the total amount of money you bet on the spin. Times total bet is usually used for scatter pays and bonus rounds initiated by scattered symbols.

The other way is times your line bet. It makes sense that this method is used when you land a winning combination of symbols on a payline.

I suspect that the lighthouse symbols are paid based on the line bet, not the total bet. If it was a 15-line machine, the combination pays \$20. Maybe there were other winning combinations on the same spin?

You should always call an attendant if you think a machine has not paid you correctly. Malfunctions are very rare, but occasionally machines on the slot floor are not configured correctly. Still, it's much more likely that players who think machines have not paid them correctly have made a mistake in their calculations.

Playing in Atlantic City many years ago, a friend of mine hit for \$900 on a machine that had a number of wild, multiplying symbols. It took the four of us (my friend and I plus two slot attendants) 15 minutes to figure out what the base combination was that the wild symbols multiplied.

Now, here's a puzzle. Which way do traditional reel-spinning slots pay?

They actually pays both ways because your total bet is the same as your line bet. (Before anyone writes in, I know that this isn't true for the old-style multi-line machines on which you can bet only one coin per line. These machines are getting pretty few and far between on today's slot floors.)

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots