It' s long been said that the players who get the best deal on the offline and online slots are those who bet bigger. Casinos generally put higher payback percentages on slot machines with higher coin denominations, and at least on three-reel games, payback percentages usually are highest with maximum bets.

One former casino company even had a cartoon character called "Max Coins" to remind players that bigger bets brought increased returns.

Players have tried to read extra meaning into that information for decades and have come up with many recurring questions about slots betting. They ask how casinos make sure bigger bets pay more, whether increasing or decreasing bets changes combinations they see on the reels, and more.

The big question, of course, is "Can bigger slots betting improve my chance of winning at slots?"

Let's look at some questions and answers, with one big caution: You can get a higher payback percentage and still lose more money. If you're betting 40 cents per spin with a 90-percent return, your average loss is 4 cents per spin. If you get 95 percent but bet $4 per spin, then your average loss is 20 cents per spin.

Make sure you keep your bets in a range you can afford. Don't bet outside your comfort zone for the sake of a higher payback percentage.

How do casinos make sure higher slots betting brings higher payback percentages?

Casinos usually put higher payback percentages on higher denomination games, so that games with base betting units of $1 pay more than 25-cent games, which pay more than 5-cent games, which pay more than 1-cent games.




That can be done by increasing the pay table on higher denomination machines, by mapping numbers from the random number generator onto more higher paying symbols, or by mapping the random numbers so that winning combinations appear more often on higher-denomination machines.

Some machines have disproportionately higher payoffs when you bet more.

Three-reel games with a jump in the top jackpot are good examples of this. When you look at the pay table, you might see the top jackpot at 500 coins if one coin is wagered, 1,000 if two coins are wagered, but leaps to 2,500 coins if three are wagered.

That disproportionate rise in the top jackpot leads to a higher overall payback percentage when more coins are wagered.

That includes machines with progressive slots jackpots if only players who bet at a qualifying level are eligible for the progressives.

Do I get a higher payback with higher slots betting while staying at the same machine?

Only if there is a disproportionate rise in the pay table, as described above. That's rare on multiline video slots or online slots.

If all payoffs are proportionate to wager size, the payback percentage almost always is the same regardless of whether you bet one coin per line, 20 coins per line, or any other available multiple.

There are exceptions. On some machines, betting more unlocks paying symbols. If, for example, bells are losing symbols if you bet one coin per line but are winners if you bet at least five coins per line, then the extra winners increase the payback percentage for those who make qualifying wagers.

If I bet $5 per spin and at a 1-cent game and $5 per spin at a 25-cent game of the same type, am I getting the same payback percentage?

In most cases, the higher payback will be on the 25-cent game, even if the bets are equal. 

Most players at the 1-cent game will be betting considerably less than $5 a spin. For example, if the game has 50 paylines, a player betting one coin per line bets only 50 cents per spin while raising bets to 10 coins per line brings the total to $5 per spin.

Without disproportionate payoffs, progressive jackpots or buy-a-pay features, betting 50 cents or $5 on the same $1 machine brings the same payback percentage. But since higher-denomination machines usually are set up with higher payback percentages, someone making similar-sized bets on a 25-cent machine usually gets a higher percentage back.

I have noticed lately when I bet the minimum I have won way more frequently than when I bet max on a machine. Is the RNG programmed to hit more on minimum bet and less on maximum bet?

That's an illusion of small sample size that would even out with extended play and observation. In this case, slots betting patterns make no difference. 

The random number generator that determines what you see on the reels doesn't know how much you've wagered. It just goes on generating random numbers.

Your wager size doesn't change the random numbers or the probability of winning combinations landing on the payline. Streaks happen, both good and bad, with big bets and small, but the probability of seeing winning combinations on any given machine is the same regardless of how much you bet.

Do the reels change in any way if bet more or fewer coins per line? Is there a change in the number of symbols on the reels or the number of high-paying symbols in the reels?

No, slots don't change the assignment of random numbers to make some symbols come up more often when you bet more, or some symbols to come up with.

There are ways to accomplish what this question suggests, but slots don't change the assignment of random numbers to make some symbols come up more often when you bet more, or some symbols to come up with.

There are ways to accomplish what the reader suggests, but they are not permitted by regulators in any American jurisdictions.

One way would be to use the same set of random numbers with large bets as with small, and change the way the numbers are mapped. For example, if you bet one coin per payline, random No. 1 could be assigned to a low-paying 10 symbol if you bet one coin per line but a high-paying jackpot symbol if you bet five per line.

Another way would be to change the set of numbers the RNG has to work with.

Imagine the RNG works with 1,000 numbers when you bet one coin.

Now imagine you bet five coins, that the RNG works with 800 numbers instead, and that the 200 numbers that have been eliminated all had been mapped onto low-paying symbols. The result would be more higher-paying combinations.

Either could be done, but both are illegal within any one game in U.S. gaming jurisdictions.

If you change games in a multi-game machine or change machines, it's a different matter. If you move from a 1-cent version of a game to a 5-cent version of the same game, they may work with different random number sets or have the numbers mapped differently.

But if you stay at the same game, betting more or less does not change the probability of landing winners on the reels.

Can increased slots betting help you win more?

That, of course is the heart of the matter. As detailed earlier, bigger bets can bring bigger payback percentages if the pay table is disproportionate, if you move to a higher-denomination machine, or if there are buy-a-pay symbols to unlock.

But bigger bets also bring the risk of bigger losses. It's up to you to decide if betting more is worth that risk, but smart players NEVER bet more than they can afford to lose.


*Credits for main photo in this article belongs to Eran Alergant

For nearly 25 years, John Grochowski has been one of the most prolific gaming writers in the United States. He’s been ranked ninth by GamblingSites among the top 11 gambling experts at Gambling Sites and his Video Poker Answer Book was ranked eighth among the best gambling books of all time.